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It’s always fun to keep an eye on on’s internal personnel moves, because they speak to the general culture of the pacesetting firm in American retail and commerce. And something telling happened recently. A contact pointed out to me that last week Amazon shuffled its management teams across its warehouse divisions, revealing that it had promoted the company’s head of loss prevention in the Americas and a former analyst at a private prison company - Dayna Howard- to the head of training for warehouse workers.
Following Howard’s path is interesting for what it says about Amazon. She started her career at the private prison giant known as Corrections Corporation of America, which has since been renamed CoreCivic because it had such a toxic brand. (Some fun controversies involved letting private gangs run an Indiana prison to save costs, and stock manipulation.) At CCA, according to her LinkedIn page, Howard “re-vamped inmate admission process and revised all processing documentation. Resulted in a 20% reduction in inmate processing time and a reduced error rate.” Howard was apparently good at designing systems to herd prisoners. So naturally, she went to Amazon.
At Amazon, she came to head their global security group, and then their loss prevention team, which is to say, she ran their efforts to stop employees and contractors from stealing. All of this is reasonable if distasteful; theft in retail is a problem and having internal security is a clear need for a firm like Amazon. But what is surprising is that Howard was then promoted to run their learning and development team, which is Amazon’s internal training program for all warehouse workers. There’s nothing illegal about any of this, but Howard’s career path does give us some perspective on how Amazon execs understand those who did not attend college and what they are good for.