Meeting the Moment
Hundreds of thousands of people bring their passion and determination to Amazon every day. In the weeks and months ahead, you’ll meet some of them through these personal stories.
Henry O. Transportation innovator. Climate change fighter.
“You ever try to work in a hundred-degree heat?”
Henry is a senior manager leading a sustainability team within Amazon Transportation Services.
“Imagine having that all year long.”
Henry grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, where he experienced the effects of climate change firsthand.
“There were days where it could get extremely hot. You have times when places get flooded and the times where you see the effects of erosion.”
“I’ve seen people who can’t fish in certain areas anymore because of environmental damage, and crops not growing as well because of environmental damage,” Henry said. “When I was asked to help build a sustainability team at Amazon it was pretty exciting to have a chance to actually take a shot at solving this.”
“It’s inspiring and invigorating to actually be in the room debating and trying to solve a very difficult problem that nobody else has solved,” he said. “Amazon trucks have to cover very long distances, and that in itself is a very difficult sustainability problem to solve. When you have a truck covering over 300 miles or you have flights going hundreds of miles it’s a bit more challenging.”
“What my team does is to come up with smart solutions to help decarbonize,” said Henry. “The best part is in many cases we are discovering solutions that not only lower carbon but they also align with lowering cost and providing a solid customer experience.”
Henry is also working in sustainability to help create a better future for his son.
“Every parent wants to be a hero to their kid and I want my son to say I was working on something important and to feel proud of me,” he said. “I’m looking at this with the lens of what are we going to do for our kids in the future.”
“We are day one of a very long journey,” Henry said. “What we are doing at Amazon is laying the foundations that will probably bear fruit in ten, twenty, thirty years.”
“Somebody has to start and it’s been an honor and a privilege to do that here at Amazon.”
Christine P. Protects the health of hundreds. Nursing student.
“I have to take care of my co-workers.”
Christine is a seasonal sortation associate at Amazon. When the pandemic hit and temperature checks became part of workplace safety, she volunteered right away to take on new the responsibility.
“This is very important for me, the fact that I am looking after people's health,” she said. “I love what I've been doing, it’s because I have a medical background.”
Christine’s pursuing a career in healthcare, continuing her family’s legacy of caring for others.
“My entire family is in the medical field,” she said. “It's just in our blood helping people.”
“My aunt owns a care home business, I take care of the elderly,” said Christine. “I'm still pursuing my nursing degree, doing online schooling at the moment.”
“Part of my family is in my heart when working with other people,” she said. “I hope someday I can be a licensed, registered nurse and work in one of those top-notch hospitals—this has always been my dream.”
Christine’s passion for the health and wellbeing of others hasn’t gone unnoticed by her kids.
“I’m a single mom for 20 years. I have a son who's 10 years old, my daughter is 20 years old,” she said. “Right now, I let my son stay with his father.”
“I FaceTime him every day, nonstop,” said Christine. “I share what I've been doing for work. I told him I'm checking people's temp on thermometers and how they're feeling, and he says ‘Wow, one day I'm going to be like you too. I'm going to be a doctor.’"
In spite of the challenges, Christine says her “positive attitude” and seeing others persevere gives her hope.
“The more you keep going, the more you get inspired seeing everyone trying hard to cope with this pandemic,” she said. “It's tough for everyone, not just me as a human being. Everyone out there in this world is affected.”
“I wish I could hug everybody,” said Christine. “If I could have my own place to take care of everyone who is sick out there, I would do it. In a heartbeat.”
Janelle H. Keeps thousands safe. Mother of two.
“When the pandemic started, my role within this facility completely changed. My department was turned upside down.”
For Janelle, an Amazon area manager and mother of two, upside down and completely different didn’t just describe her role at work, her home life was also in flux.
“My husband was one of the ones that unfortunately lost his job during the shutdown. He wasn't put on hold; he was actually laid off.”
Janelle’s family depended on her more than ever, and suddenly, so did her extended family of co-workers across the US; her team pivoted quickly to become a critical link in the PPE supply chain.
“We started shipping out the COVID-19 allocations. Hand sanitizers, masks, latex gloves, cleaning supplies—all the stuff needed to keep Amazon associates safe,” she said. “As far as the gloves and face masks that we’ve shipped to the other Amazons in the United States, I would say it’s in the tens of millions, if not 20 million.”
Keeping associates across the country supplied with the PPE they need to stay safe is no small task, but Janelle sees it as more than a challenge.
“It's exciting,” she said. “If we’re shipping out 1,000 cases, we have to make sure that every FC that needs them, gets them the next day. There are certain times the delivery trucks leave, so it’s exciting to get it done on time.”
It hasn’t been easy, but that’s what makes Janelle so passionate about her work.
“It's an amazing feeling,” she said. “It feels incredible that we’re not only doing something to help our building during the pandemic, but all other associates, that we're able to make sure they go home to their families safe as well.”
Oscar F. Delivers with care. First-time dad.
“It's funny to say I'm essential. At the end of the day, I just want to help out anyone that needs it.”
Oscar is an Amazon delivery associate, and since the pandemic hit, his deliveries are more important than ever.
“I have a lot of energy, so I love doing this.”
Which is good. Because he’s also a new dad.
“In the middle of this pandemic, having a kid, it was something different. I thought, my first day was just going to be normal and I was going to have my parents in the waiting room, tell them that now they have a grandson. But instead, it was just me and my girlfriend,” said Oscar. “It felt pretty lonely. But at the same time, we kept it really personal. It was just us two. So, I'm grateful for that.”
“My favorite thing about being a new dad is, I think, the challenges,” he said. “I really enjoy coming home, getting clean, and the first thing I do is I just hold him, I could hold him all day.”
Oscar’s balancing a lot; it’s not only life at home with a newborn that’s different.
“When I came back from my break, Amazon completely changed. The process of recovering the van was different. The process of coming into the station and loading also was different,” said Oscar. “They went over a hundred percent, they went beyond. Every single day I see sanitation stations, I see everyone with a mask. Everyone is covered up, everywhere you see a sticker saying ‘six feet apart.’”
“If anything, they take it overboard on the safety and that's what I love,” said Oscar. “Safety is really important to me as a father, mainly because I'm not just coming home to the baby, I'm coming home to a family. So that means my girlfriend and my baby. I really want him to grow healthy, strong. And I can't imagine going back to the hospital right now.”
Looking out for families and others in his community is also important to Oscar.
“Everyone needs help. And man, it's a good thing to be out here and helping,” he said. “I know I am helping people and that makes me really happy.”
Hector R. Zero emissions chaser. Ultra-marathoner.
“The longest run I've done is 100 miles in under 20 hours on a treadmill in my garage. I did the challenge not knowing if I could do it, or if the treadmill would hold up.”
Hector, an Amazon delivery operations manager, doesn’t just like to run. He lives for it.
“You have to dig in deep in a lot of places mentally and physically to push through to get to that 100-mile mark,” said Hector. “Once you start seeing that you can do these phenomenal things and what you’re capable of, you take that to being a father, to being a husband, to being an Amazonian.”
“If I'm not running on a treadmill, I'm on a mountain doing my best to get up and down it as fast as possible,” he said. “I love seeing the trees, the flowers, the wildlife—I soak it all up. It does something great for my brain.”
“I have two daughters. I want them to grow up and be able to have the same experiences and see the same beauty in nature. I want to do everything I can on my part to make sure they have the same opportunities,” he said. “Some of my best experiences in life have been in nature. I absolutely think it needs to be protected.”
Hector uses his determination and love for the outdoors to drive environmental change at Amazon.
“Something I have in common with Amazon’s culture is always pushing and striving to be better than the day before,” he said. “I’m always pushing myself through trail running the same way Amazon is always pushing for the highest delivery performance.”
“We were one of the first stations that that got the opportunity to pilot a fleet of electric vehicles. I was excited to have the team participate so we could continue to iterate and call out what we need to make this something that will scale across the country,” said Hector. “We have hundreds of vehicles on the road every day just out of this building. I feel really proud that we were able to meet the challenge.”
“The electric vans in our fleet have a decal that says ‘Shipment Zero,’ and what that means is that we’re striving to be able to deliver a package end-to-end with zero emissions,” he said. “It’s a big, lofty goal, but I have no doubt that we will achieve it.”
Joe B. Carbon footprint reducer. Avid birder.
“I’ve always wanted to have an impact. I’ve always wanted to leave the Earth a better place. And I think climate change is the fight of our generation.”
Joe’s a sustainability science researcher at Amazon, working to reduce Amazon’s carbon footprint to net zero by 2040.
“Right now, we’re up against time. That’s our biggest enemy.”
Joe is no stranger to solving the seemingly impossible. When he started at Amazon three and a half years ago, he took on an important task that Amazon had yet to tackle. “I had a very clear mission: we need to know our carbon footprint. We need to understand our carbon, not just from our facilities, or the tailpipes of our vehicles and our logistics fleet, but everything. I was super excited about that challenge.”
A love of both nature and complex problems is what led Joe to a career in sustainability. “When I went to college, I studied physics. Probably a lot of that was, you know, just wanting to do something hard,” he said. “I came out of that focusing more on how physics and physical science applies to the environment and the earth as a system.”
“The reason I was excited about getting a job with Amazon was that they're investing in and thinking deeply about the science of sustainability. It’s an opportunity to have a big impact,” said Joe. “I want my son to know I tried my hardest to make things better for his generation and for all the people who are alive 50 years from now.”
“We're going to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible through technologies, business changes, and innovations. We're going to offset emissions with real, quantifiable offsets, like taking carbon out of the atmosphere by planting trees,” he said. “We're going to be dependent on technologies that might not exist yet, or that are still in the development stage.”
“One way or another, we're going to reduce our carbon footprint to net zero,” said Joe. “Amazon’s not used to thinking that something can’t be done.”
How Amazon is keeping its employees safe
Amazon will invest $4 billion through June on COVID-related initiatives to keep employees safe and deliver products safely to customers. That includes everything from providing more than 100 million face masks and 34 million pairs of gloves to Amazon employees worldwide, to adding thousands of handwashing stations and more than 93 million sanitizing wipes, daily temperature checks, and more.