How Alicia Boler Davis helped guide Amazon through the pandemic

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Quibi nears its end, Kristen Welker is set to moderate tonight’s presidential debate, and we learn more about one of newbies on this year’s Fortune MPW list. Have a terrific Thursday.

-Engineering Amazon’s future. One of the most interesting aspects of putting together our annual Most Powerful Women lists is learning more about the newbies—i.e. the executives making their debut on the ranking.

This year, that cohort includes Alicia Boler Davis, a 25-year GM vet and engineer who joined Amazon as VP of global customer fulfillment last spring and lands at No. 12 on our list. In his new profile, Fortune’s Aaron Pressman establishes her purview—hundreds of Amazon warehouses worldwide, as well as customer service—as the heartbeat of the retail giant, making Boler Davis Amazon’s “pacemaker.”

A complex job even at the simplest of times, Boler Davis’s role became all the more difficult when the pandemic hit. Orders surged, supply chains strained, and the workers who staff the company’s network of warehouses were suddenly at risk of exposure to COVID-19. In his piece, Aaron dives into how Boler Davis tackled these challenges—meeting some with flying colors and others with mixed results.

Ultimately, her efforts have made her a rising star at Amazon, landing her a spot on the S-team, the select inner circle that advises CEO and founder Jeff Bezos. (She’s the first Black person and fourth woman ever named to the group.) And Aaron reports that some analysts are speculating that she may rise further next year, in a reshuffling after the planned retirement of Jeff Wilke, CEO of consumer at Amazon and Bezos’s longtime No. 2.

To learn more about Boler Davis—and what might come next for her, read the full profile here.

Kristen Bellstrom

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

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