While today Ryan is a key business leader at Amazon, few may know that growing up he had very different ambitions. As he reveals, “when I was a kid I thought I would wind up in some kind of role that involved design. I imagined myself with a pencil in hand and my imagination running wild. It turns out that I enjoyed working with people more than CAD programs, so here we are today.”
1. You have built a diverse career across three continents. Could you tell us a bit about your career evolution?
I was actually quite young when I started working - at 12, I already did landscaping for neighbors and then I worked a little in fast food during high school. After university, I became a manager in a grocery store and finally, in 2008, I decided to move to China to work for a company that helped adults learn English and where I led a team focused on product/service development.
After completing my MBA, I joined Amazon in 2013 as a Product Manager for pricing. I had tremendous freedom in this function and I knew early on that I would be with Amazon for years. In 2014, I became the Head of the Amazon Marketplace Fashion business in the UK. The next four years were a blur, as we grew the business and I scaled programs such as Launchpad, which helps startups succeed on Amazon. In late 2018, I learned that the position of Head of Marketplace for Spain was open and I jumped at the opportunity.
2. What keeps you excited about coming to work every day?
On the one hand, I love that my role enables me to set direction at country level, develop leaders on my team, and interact with customers (Selling Partners) all in a single day. This variety in what I do and the visible impact on the Selling Partners and customer experiences keeps me energized.
3. Why is Marketplace an exciting business to be in right now?
Marketplace is in the business of empowerment – we develop the tools and services that help Selling Partners reach millions of Customers across the EU and across the globe. It is great to see that our investments are helping Customers find more selection at lower prices with fast delivery. However, we still have many improvements to design to make selling on Amazon even easier. In Marketplace, it is exciting to work with some of the brightest people on solving difficult problems at scale, and seeing their ideas translated into action. I could not be happier with my decision to take on my current role a year ago, as the team is incredibly hardworking and smart.
4. How do you lead, inspire, and develop your teams?
I am strong believer that people achieve their best when they truly own something and have the resources and support to deliver. I try to bring in diverse viewpoints, encourage my team to learn and be curious and think beyond the scope of their roles, and give them the space to experiment. Putting my team in a position to take the lead helps them develop faster than if I were to drive all the decisions.
5. On a more personal note, you have just welcomed your first child to the world. How do you balance a demanding job with your family commitments?
I have been fortunate that my family enjoys traveling and they have been very excited to visit the baby; we had many relatives from the US visiting us in Madrid. This has made life easier as they give us a lot of support. I typically leave the office after my last meeting in the day and head home to spend quality time with my family. I log on later in the day when necessary to close out open points.
6. Finally, what are the most important things you are looking forward to at both a personal and a professional level in the future?
I cannot wait to see how my son’s personality develops, and share my passions such as cooking, traveling, and snow sports with him. Professionally, I plan to stay in my role for a while, as I love my team, living in Madrid, and improving my Spanish (I have a long road before achieving fluency).