Global HR leader at Amazon and Microsoft, now living in Tauranga


John Olsen spent 7 years at Amazon in a number of roles including being the Global HR leader for Amazon’s fulfilment, delivery operations, and customer service. He also led HR at Amazon for high growth products such Alexa and Kindle. Prior to Amazon John spent 7 years working as a Global HR Leader at Microsoft in roles ranging from Windows Phone to Skype.

We asked John the number one takeaway he learned from working for some of the largest companies in the world. He responded with “when it comes to exceeding customer expectations, details matter. No matter how big you get or how many resources you have, you always need to understand your customer, know the details of how you operate, and make sure you are continually improving how you deliver.”

Two years ago, John moved from the USA to NZ. His wife is originally from Wellington, but the couple and their family decided to settle in Tauranga. John quotes “while we always thought of moving to NZ when we retired, we fell in love with the Bay of Plenty during one of our vacations. We loved where we were living at the time but decided to take a gamble, accelerate our plans, and make the move. We haven’t looked back since”. John loves the sense of community in NZ and Tauranga, he feels fortunate to work in a place where it is easy to reach out and ask for help or insight on a problem. “Everyone I have met has been gracious with their time, their insights, and their expertise either in helping us as a family or professionally as I have learned more about working in NZ”.

John still works with large corporations around the world, and he also helps steer NZ businesses and our local Tauranga firms to success by driving change into their organisations. He focuses his efforts around strategy, leadership, organisational design, and talent. John also serves on boards for organisations like Mentemia (a technology start-up founded here in NZ by Sir John Kirwan and Adam Clark focused on mental health) and the Icehouse’s Bay of Plenty Advisory Board. On top of this, John serves as a coach and sounding board for senior leaders as they look to grow their own leadership skills or think differently about their organisations.

On Monday 27 July, John will present an online Masterclass as part of the Groundswell Festival of Innovation organised by Tauranga’s economic development agency Priority One. This class is in partnership with RHUBARB, a community of organisations who are leading the Bay of Plenty to the forefront of innovation, technology, and talent development. John’s Masterclass will teach viewers practical ideas that will help make businesses more successful by attracting and motivating a team that can be their competitive advantage.

For more information and to book tickets for this online Masterclass visit www.groundswellfestival.nz


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