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W&D Webcast: Amazon’s Jay Carney Talks Leadership in Crisis Management

“It’s a fallacy to assume that Amazon is as big as some people think it is,” Amazon’s Jay Carney told Walker & Dunlop CEO Willy Walker in the latest in the series of leadership webcasts Walker has hosted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carney made that point by way of explaining that although the company’s supplier network enabled it to scale up and meet demand for personal protective equipment, at first Amazon had to scramble for PPE like everyone else when the pandemic erupted. Between PPE and other essential goods that Amazon delivery trucks bring door to door, the company has become an essential resource for many.

“It’s a responsibility we take very seriously,” said Carney. It’s also a dual responsibility, as Walker pointed out: while many companies—including Walker & Dunlop—responded to COVID-19 by working remotely, Amazon’s warehouse workers and delivery drivers have to show up at the job site and therefore need to be protected.

The Amazon SVP of global corporate affairs covered the White House during 9/11 for Time Magazine, and later worked in the White House as President Barack Obama’s press secretary before joining Jeff Bezos’ elite S-team in 2014. Although he noted that the jobs of corporate CEO and President of the United States are vastly different from one another, Carney cited similarities between Bezos and Obama.

A fundamental trait of both men, he said, is a focus on the long view in worlds that typically don’t reward that approach. Obama didn’t look to score short-term political victories as President, and Bezos has been a proponent of making investments that may take years to pay off.

Another commonality has been the need to manage crises, which calls for “broad policy decisions and quick thinking,” Carney said. In Bezos’ case, the decision-making process during the pandemic has meant a greater focus on the day-to-day than the forward-thinking CEO has taken in some time.

On-demand replays of the conversation between Walker and Carney are available here.

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).

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