Inside the 'Chop': Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy uses a Seattle conference room to cut down big ideas — and unprepared employees

  • Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy makes his biggest decisions in what insiders call the “Chop.”
  • It’s the name of a conference room, but more broadly describes any important meeting with Jassy.
  • Current and former AWS employees described the Chop to Insider for an in-depth profile on Jassy.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

There’s a conference room outside Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy’s Seattle office where he makes the decisions that guide Amazon’s $40 billion-a-year cloud business.

It’s called the “Chop,” short for the 1839 novel “Charterhouse of Parma,” an acronym Jassy also used as the name for his college dormroom. As more than a dozen current and former AWS employees told Insider for an in-depth profile on Jassy, the Chop is where ideas, and sometimes employees, go to get chopped down to size.

The Chop was initially a single conference room with a poster of the Dave Matthews Band, Jassy’s favorite. When AWS opened its new Re:Invent headquarters building, named for its annual conference, the company turned “Chop” into two side-by-side conference rooms so Jassy can schedule back-to-back meetings without delay. (The second conference room is called the Rothschild, named after Jassy’s favorite high school teacher).

“Chop” is now broadly used to describe any important meeting someone at AWS might have with Jassy, wherever it might take place.

Going to a Chop meeting can be an intimidating task. While Jassy is considered by many to be the nicest of Amazon’s senior executives, he’s no pushover and has little patience for people who aren’t prepared.

“He doesn’t suffer foolishness,” Scott Chancellor, a former AWS director who’s now the chief product and technology officer at IT management software company Apptio, told Insider. “If you’re not prepared for a meeting with him in the CHOP, and especially if you try to mask that lack of preparedness with smooth talking, he’ll know and he will make it clear.”

“People who don’t do their best in those meetings won’t get a second shot, at least not for a long time,” Chancellor said.

So teams often take weeks preparing for the Chop, going through dozens of different versions of their presentations, which use Amazon’s famous six-pagers that describe detailed plans for a new product or initiative. All documents requiring his attention are printed out — he rarely reviews them digitally, unless he’s traveling — and often gathered in a manila folder. 

When it’s time to present, as many as 50 people from teams including legal, product, and finance gather in the Chop and sit in complete silence, sometimes for as long as 30 minutes, as everyone in the room goes through the document. When Jassy reviews the proposal — usually with a pencil and not a pen — he prefers to speak after everyone else shares their thoughts, as most senior executives at Amazon do. 

Being prepared for a Chop meeting is more important than pitching the right idea, insiders say. “He will rip something apart, but if you can justify your decision even if he disagrees with you, he will respect you,” one former senior employee said. “It’s better to have a document that drives the right discussion than gets to an answer,” another said.

Read the full feature on AWS CEO Andy Jassy and what it’s like to work with Amazon’s cloud boss.

Are you an Amazon Web Services employee? Contact reporter Ashley Stewart via encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-425-344-8242) or email ([email protected]).

Do you work at Amazon? Contact reporter Eugene Kim via encrypted messaging apps Signal/Telegram (+1-415-926 -2066) or email ([email protected]).

Source: Read Full Article