You forgot the butter. Or bought the wrong sugar. Or opened your avocados to reveal they’re more brown than green. For millions of Americans, the fix to such supermarket stumbles is Amazon, the e-comm giant that can deliver groceries from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Markets to your door within two hours in more than 2,000 cities and towns across the country. Those delivery capabilities have proved vital during this era of social distancing, when a mere trip to the grocer may be a cause for concern. (Amazon responded to this urgency by hiring 80,000 extra workers and increasing its delivery and pickup capacity, putting a priority on pantry and household items.) And we all have Stephenie Landry to thank.
In 2003, the New York native started out at Amazon as an intern. “Fifteen years ago, no one was an expert in e-commerce,” says Landry. “The industry was still developing, and so were we as leaders.” Fast-forward to 2020 and Landry is now the worldwide vice president of Amazon Fresh and Amazon Prime Now. In between, she touched nearly every sector of the business, from logistics to customer service and, most significant, product development. Along with being a founding member of Fresh, Landry brought Prime Now from concept to market in a mind-boggling 111 days. “The code name for the project was Houdini—our goal was to create an experience that made customers wonder, ‘How did they do that so fast?!’” says Landry. In trying to create a “shopping experience that was delightful and gave back precious time to customers,” Landry and her team fundamentally changed the way people buy groceries.
It would be an impressive career for anyone, but even more so for a queer woman in the testosterone-fueled tech industry. “Technology, retail, and food industries are all microcosms of the larger world—women absolutely experience barriers because of sexism and discrimination. But I avoid thinking about how being a woman is a handicap and instead focus on what I bring to the table,” says Landry. “I act as an example of representation—as a woman, a lesbian, a Latina—in senior leadership for employees who may not see themselves reflected in the demographics.” (While pay equity isn’t as big a problem at Amazon as it is in the wider world—women earn 99.5 cents for every dollar that men earn in the same jobs—gender balance in leadership roles is, with women occupying only 26 percent of management positions, according to the company’s workforce data as of December 2018.) “Every major function of the Prime Now launch team in 2014—operations, technology, product—was led by women,” says Landry. “I didn’t do that on purpose. It stemmed from having a network of people who I respect and want to work with. It turns out that a good deal of those people were smart women.”
This article originally appeared in our Summer 2020 issue. Get the magazine here.