Vice President of Talent & Development
Amazon Web Services
Michael Arena Ph.D. is the Vice President of Talent & Development at Amazon Web Services, where he is responsible for the global talent practices, leadership development and learning, organizational effectiveness, new employee success strategies, executive recruiting and the organizational research activities to enable the growth and innovation for AWS. He was nominated to the Thinkers50 Radar class of 2020 for his work leveraging network roles in creating adaptive organizations: brokers, connectors, energizers, and challengers.
Prior to joining Amazon, Arena was the Chief Talent Officer for General Motors Corporation where he was responsible for enterprise talent management, cultural transformation, leadership development, talent acquisition and people analytics. While at GM he launched GM2020, a grass roots initiative designed to enable employees to positively disrupt the way they work, which was highlighted in Fast Company and Fortune Magazine. This initiative and others are highlighted in his best-selling book, Adaptive Space: How GM and Other Companies are Positively Disrupting Themselves and Transforming into Agile Organizations.
His research on adaptation and networks won the 2017 Walker Prize from People + Strategy and has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Harvard Business Review, and Sloan Management Review. Prior to GM, Arena spent two years as a visiting scientist with MIT’s Media Lab researching human networks. He also served as Senior Vice President of Leadership Development at Bank of America, where he co-designed and launched the Center for Future Banking, to positively disrupt consumer banking.
Dr. Arena is a faculty member in Penn’s Masters in Organizational Dynamics program and acts as a design thinking coach within the Stanford School.