For almost as long as Amazon has existed, Jeff Bezos has had a “shadow” — an up-and-coming executive who gets the much-envied chance to go with the CEO to daily meetings, talk over problems, and generally have as much access to Bezos as they can handle.
Today, we learned that Bezos has appointed 15-year Amazon veteran Maria Renz to the “shadow” position (the official title is “technical advisor to the CEO”), making her the first woman shadow in the company’s history, as reported by Re/code.
At Amazon, Renz has been involved in many aspects of Amazon’s retail business, including Health & Grocery, Shoes & Jewellery, and deal-a-day site Woot.com. For the past two years, she had been serving as CEO of Quidsi, an Amazon acquisition and the parent company of Diapers.com.
Amazon’s past shadows have gone on to lead big projects. Andy Jassy, head of the now-$US6 billion Amazon Web Services business, used to be a shadow. So was Greg Hart, who headed up development of the Amazon Echo speech recognition appliance. Amit Agarwal, the head of Amazon’s growing Indian business, was one, too.
Shadows usually last about two years in the role. Renz is replacing former Kindle VP Jay Marine, who stuck around for about that long. Now that he’s left Bezos’ side, Marine will be heading up Amazon Instant Video in Europe.
Of Amazon’s eight executive roles, including Bezos, the only woman is Worldwide Controller Shelley Reynolds. Renz’s appointment to this much-desired, super-intensive mentoring role at least shows signs of progress at the very top of Amazon.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.