Jeff Bezos' right hand woman has a powerful 'Lean In' story

5 stunning stats on Amazon
5 stunning stats on Amazon

Maria Renz is Jeff Bezos' right hand at Amazon. That's something, considering that she once recommended that Amazon eliminate her position.

In a powerful "Lean In" story that Renz published on leanin.org, Renz recounted how she bravely told Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos that what was best for the company trumped her own personal interests. She was nervous that she would lose her job, but she was instead rewarded with several promotions at the company, most recently serving as Jeff Bezos' technical adviser.

Last month, Renz was promoted to the coveted role of Jeff Bezos' "shadow," which was first reported in Re/code. The shadow sits in all meetings with Bezos and helps him make important strategic decisions.

In the post on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In website two years ago, Renz told how when she served as Amazon's director of marketing in 2001, the company was deciding between spending money on a TV ad campaign or a free shipping option called "Super Saver Shipping."

Particularly for the woman in charge of the company's advertising business, this was a big, impactful decision to be made.

"If we decided to not spend money on ads, the company no longer needed a Director of Marketing Communications," Renz wrote. "I clearly recall sitting in my office wondering whether I was struggling with the recommendation because it was the wrong marketing choice, or because it had a direct impact on my career path."

maria renz amazon
Maria Renz

Renz said her "Lean In moment" came when she recommended to Bezos that the company spend money on the free shipping program instead of on TV ads. That essentially made her job obsolete.

"By putting our customers first, I was confident that my recommendation was the right choice," Renz said. "I had great passion for the brand and the company and worried I had brought that relationship to its end."

Soon after that meeting, Renz got some good news: Bezos and her manager told her that they appreciated her courage, and they offered her a job heading up the company's new health, beauty and grocery business.

Renz was promoted to vice president of shoes and jewelry in 2007. She took over Amazon's physical media and Canadian businesses in 2012 and became CEO of Amazon's Quidsi subsidiary in 2013 -- the parent company of Diapers.com that Amazon bought in 2011.

As for Super Saver Shipping, the program still exists today. In 2013, the company raised the minimum purchase to qualify for free shipping to $35 from the previous $25.

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