By the time Nadia Shouraboura left Amazon in 2012 after more than 8 years at the company, she had risen through the ranks into one of the most important positions: VP of technology, in charge of all its supply chain and fulfillment platforms globally.
She was also a member of CEO Jeff Bezos’ elite “S-Team” of direct reports.
Once of her most memorable and impactful moments happened right after she was first hired, though.
Not long after Shouraboura joined the company in 2004, she made a huge mistake. When a shipment of new products came in, she instructed them to be put up on the highest shelves of the warehouse. When a bunch of orders for that product came in, there wasn’t enough staff to get the product down fast enough (remember, this was pre Amazon’s warehouse-robot days).
“I was trying to figure out how I would save the situation,” she told Business Insider. “So I came up with a model to figure out how to minimise the amount of money spent to fix the issue, so they wouldn’t fire me.”
Her model helped her figure out how late how many of the products would have to be, to theoretically cause the least damage.
“I brought the model to Jeff Bezos and the S Team, and they basically told me that I was being an idiot,” she says. “They said we just needed to ship everything as fast as we could, without regards to cost. We needed to make sure the experience was right, and then worry about the money afterwards.”
Amazon brought on outside help and paid expedited shipping for all the orders, so that everyone would get their package on time.
“It cost a lot — was a big number,” Shouraboura says with a slight laugh. “That’s customer obsession for you. That situation taught me a lot very quickly. They still adhere to that philosophy today.”
“Customer obsession” is one of the company’s main tenets. Amazon obviously didn’t fire Shouraboura after her mishap, and she says she internalized that idea throughout her next 8 years at the company. Eventually, she left to found her own retail startup, called Hointer. Hointer is anti-Amazon in that it focuses solely on ways to improve brick-and-mortar retail. However, one thing is the same: The main focus of her company is to make the shopping experience more convenient for customers.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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