Dina Vaccari, a former Amazon employee quoted in a recent New York Times article that called Amazon’s workplace “bruising,” now says her story was used to represent a view of the company that doesn’t align with her own.
“Allow me to be clear: the hours I put in at Amazon were MY CHOICE,” wrote Vaccari in a blog post responding to the Times story. “I was enrolled in The University of Washington’s Foster Technology MBA program while I was in charge of building 3 new Amazon retail categories and going though an emotional breakup when I didn’t sleep for those 4 days. No one ever forced me to do this – I chose it and it sucked at the time but in no way was I asked or forced by management to do this.”
Here’s how the Times put Vaccari’s tale:
“One time I didn’t sleep for four days straight,” said Dina Vaccari, who joined in 2008 to sell Amazon gift cards to other companies and once used her own money, without asking for approval, to pay a freelancer in India to enter data so she could get more done.
As for using her own funds, Vaccari says it was a calculated choice she made based on advice in Tim Ferris’ book Four Hour Work Week. She says she was proud of her decision to outsource, considering it helped boost her performance exponentially.
Still, Vaccari admits that Amazon’s management can be hit or miss. She wrote about a manager who “gets an F in terms of employing the Amazon Leadership Principles” who valued working harder over working smarter, for instance.
Vaccari further argues that Amazon’s workplace as portrayed in the Times is too simplistic:
The Amazon culture is much more complex than boiling it down to a hyper competitive environment where the brightest minds willingly spend 18 hours a day building Jeff’s evil robot empire. Amazon is a company where culture equates to Amazon employees that live and breathe the Leadership Principles, and by doing so, Amazon has been able to harness the collective brainpower of very smart people and revolutionize technology and business in a plethora of ways.