To succeed at running Amazon’s sprawling customer service operations, Dave Clark jokes that everything he needed to learn came from 250 seventh-graders. He believes teaching kids to play in junior high band, his job before business school, gave him the skills to cope with the uncertainty of large-scale logistics.
Clark is an Amazon executive with long tenure, having joined the company in 1999 as an operations manager. He rose as the company grew, delighting in the fact that “as you get bigger, you get to play with a lot bigger toys.”
That scale can be daunting, as it includes around 150 fulfillment centers worldwide, more than 125,000 full-time employees in the United States, ground-breaking robotics development and a fleet of 32 cargo jets, with eight more expected to be put into service in 2018.
The online retailer is adding a $1.5 billion cargo air hub in northern Kentucky to Clark’s burgeoning portfolio. Driving such bold plans while keeping customers satisfied with quality, speed and lower cost is challenging.
“The magic happens when you can do all of those things at the same time,” Clark explains. He credits the deep team of “crazy smart” leaders and technologists he has cultivated to lead those elements of the company to the next level.
“I have one of the most fun jobs,” he muses, and delights in how scaling to such complexity brings together great talent and organizational skills. “It’s like running your own little city.”