Amazon's Consumer Business Chief to Retire Early Next Year
Jeff Wilke, the chief executive of Amazon.com's consumer business, said on Friday he planned to retire early next year after more than two decades with the company. The news was announced via an internal memo posted to the company’s corporate blog. WIlke was one of two chiefs of specific businesses at Amazon who report directly to Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder and chief executive. (The other is Andy Jassy, who leads Amazon’s cloud computing division.) Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations, who has run Amazon's operations, including its logistics and supply chain, will take over Wilke’s role.
Total Retail's Take: It's not clear why Wilke is retiring, especially since retail insiders thought he might be in line to run Amazon if Bezos ever left. Wilke's internal memo didn't offer much insight either. "I don't have a new job, and am as happy with and proud of Amazon as ever. I treasure the deep relationships we forged as we grew this company. So why leave? It’s just time," he wrote. Wilke also said it's time for Dave Clark to step in and lead the organization.
So, who is Dave Clark, the man credited with building Amazon's massive warehouse and delivery network, and who may take over for Bezos one day? According to Fortune, he grew up in Georgia and Florida and worked in his parents' carpet store as well as at a Publix Supermarket and a Service Merchandise store during high school. After graduating from Auburn University he spent time as a high school music teacher, but shortly after business school left for Seattle and started in Amazon's "Pathways" leadership development program. Clark quickly moved up the ranks of Amazon's logistics operation, from operations manager of a fulfillment center in Kentucky in 2001 to general manager of all Northeast warehouses in 2003. By 2010, he was vice president of North American operations, and in 2013 was promoted to his current job, senior vice president of worldwide operations. It will be interesting to see how a logistics and operations professional will run the second-largest job in retail. We will be watching closely.