Amazon is giving more responsibilities than ever to its logistics boss Dave Clark, putting the teams that cover everything from marketing and the Prime membership program to physical stores and the incipient drone delivery service under his purview.
That makes the 47-year old Clark one of the most powerful executives at Amazon.
Based on Amazon’s internal organizational chart, seen by Business insider, Clark’s responsibilities now include: Compliance and product safety; marketing; physical stores (including Whole Foods); shipping and delivery; warehouse management and worker safety; robotics (including Kiva and drones); Prime membership; supply chain management; sustainability; and fresh food delivery.
Clark’s expanded role is a big show of support by Bezos and Amazon’s leadership team, reflecting his rising stock within the upper ranks. He is now in charge of some of Amazon’s most ambitious projects, including the one-day shipping initiative and Prime Air drone delivery program. At the same time, he has to manage Amazon’s spending in major investment areas, like physical stores and warehouses, while addressing concerns around worker safety and product compliance.
The added responsibilities follow the departure of Steve Kessel, the former SVP of physical stores who announced his resignation late last year. Most of Kessel’s direct reports, like VP of physical stores Dilip Kumar and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, have moved over to Clark’s group as a result. The teams run by Neil Lindsay, VP of Prime and marketing, and Gur Kimchi, VP of Prime Air, have been reassigned to Clark’s team earlier last year. Kimchi reports up to Brad Porter, VP of Robotics Strategy. Kara Hurst, Amazon’s head of worldwide sustainability, is also organizationally under Clark.
“Dave is a 20-plus year Amazonian who wakes up every day considering how we can best serve customers,” Amazon’s spokesperson told Business Insider. “He has a keen instinct on what items to dive in on any given day, while also balancing thinking big about the future.”
Here are Clark’s 15 direct reports:
- Alicia Boler Davis, VP of global customer fulfillment
- Arun Rajan, VP of technology, physical stores
- Brad Porter, VP/distinguished engineer of Robotics Strategy & AI
- Carletta Ooton, VP of Safety, Sustainability, Security & Compliance
- David Bozeman, VP of Amazon Transportation Services
- Devesh Mishra, VP of Supply Chain Optimization Technology
- Dilip Kumar, VP of Physical Stores
- Heather MacDougall, VP of Workplace Health & Safety
- Janette Coleman, Executive Assistant
- John Felton, VP of Global Delivery Services
- John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market
- Maria Renz, VP of Ops Customer Experience, Delivery Experience
- Neil Lindsay, VP of Worldwide Prime and Marketing
- Rebecca Gansert, VP of Global Specialty Fulfillment, Worldwide Prime Now Operations
- Stephanie Landry, VP of F3 (Fresh, Food, Fast)
From warehouse manager to SVP
Since joining Amazon in 1999, Clark has quickly jumped through the ranks, going from a warehouse manager in Campbellsville, KY in 2001 to the VP of North American operations in 2010. He was promoted to SVP of worldwide operations in 2013, and was soon recruited to Bezos’s secretive group of top advisors called the “S-team.”
The Georgia-native grew up in an entrepreneurial household. He learned how to drive a forklift when he was 12-years old to help his parent’s business, and in high school, worked at a Publix supermarket. A music major at Auburn University, Clark got through school in part by working as the equipment and logistics person for the music department. He was so excited about his first job at Amazon that he flew to Seattle the day after graduating from University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s MBA program.
Clark is known for his tough management style and meticulous demands, according to a recent report by Bloomberg. His reputation of quickly firing underperforming warehouse workers has earned him the nickname “The Sniper,” the report said. During last year’s holiday season, for example, his team temporarily cut ties with FedEx, citing low performance. Amazon’s spokesperson told Business Insider that the company is not aware of The Sniper nickname.
Clark’s biggest task this year is the rollout of Amazon’s one-day delivery program. The company invested roughly $3 billion last year in shortening its standard delivery time from two days to one day, causing investor concerns around the hefty spending. Amazon appeased some of those concerns last week, when it reported strong fourth-quarter sales growth and lower-than-expected spending on one-day shipping.
Inventory is seen inside the Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey, U.S., November 26, 2018.
More important to Amazon may be Clark’s role building up its in-house delivery network. Amazon now handles more than half of all package deliveries, and is rumored to have ambitions to eventually compete with the services by FedEx and UPS. At Amazon’s internal all-hands meeting in December, Clark said he’s most excited about the changes new technologies like automation could bring in the transportation space.
“I think by the time you look out three to five years, the way our transportation infrastructure operates is going to be pretty radically different than the way traditional transportation infrastructure works,” Clark said, according to a recording of the event obtained by Business Insider.
Clark’s long list of responsibilities makes his team one of the largest at Amazon — and a difficult one to manage.
Teams under Clark have been subject to a number of controversies in recent years. Worker safety at Amazon’s warehouses and delivery services are perennial issues that surface almost every year. Some of the pilots that ship Amazon packages have also recently staged public protests over low wages and poor working conditions. Amazon’s loose standards over product safety and compliance, meanwhile, have drawn increased press and regulatory scrutiny in the past year. And last month, a group of employees criticized the company’s record on climate change and sustainability efforts.
The growing number of robots in Amazon warehouses — now exceeding 200,000 worldwide — has caused some employees to worry about losing their jobs to automation. Clark addressed those concerns at a 2017 internal all-hands meeting, saying Amazon would need to continue hiring a lot of people “in the foreseeable future” across its fulfillment centers, customer service, and transportation network, in order to keep up growth.
“We’re going to continue to drive efficiencies as we have since the very first day we started operations,” Clark said, according to a recording of the event obtained by Business Insider. “But there’s going to continue to be room for awesome employees doing great things for customers for many, many years to come.”
While Clark has a good sense of humor and is considered a personable leader, he rarely goes off-script during all-hands meetings, sticking to party line answers when responding to sensitive employee questions. In many cases, he simply repeats Bezos’s famous business mantras, like customer obsession.
Perhaps that’s one reason why he’s earned the trust of the company. Those executives who are so absorbed in Bezos’s business philosophy and are able to recite them at will are internally called “Jeff Bots” for their loyalty and devotion to the company, according to Brad Stone’s book, “The Everything Store.”
That characteristic was reflected in Clark’s comment during the 2018 all-hands meeting, when an employee asked what warehouse workers should tell themselves every day before going to work.
“The mother of all leadership principles is customer obsession,” Clark said, according to a recording of the meeting Business Insider has heard. “So every time we get up, we come in, knowing that we are the frontlines for the customers and their experience with Amazon — and keep bringing it.”