Jeffrey B. Kratz General Manager Latin America, Canada & Caribbean Regions World-Wide Public Sector Amazon Web Services
As General Manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS), Jeffrey Kratz is the executive responsible for Latin America, Canada, and Caribbean government, education & non-profit business. His experience in building & managing complex international teams has accelerated the regional customer cloud adoption, specifically in Internet-of-Things, big data, cybersecurity & disaster response scenarios. With over 25 years of global technology leadership experience, he spearheaded the creation of the business plan that enabled the AWS Public Sector organization to expand into these regions.
Jeffrey is often quoted in the international press and speaks at public sector & economic industry events regarding global technology trends, and country growth strategies.
He previously held a variety of executive positions with Microsoft for 20 years, finishing his time with the company as the General Manager, Global Channel Sales, WW Public Sector. Throughout his career, Jeffrey has been a catalyst to empower customers with advanced technologies to spark growth. He began his career starting up with others Data Trek, Inc., a software firm specializing in automation and information retrieval systems for corporate and public libraries.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science & Mathematics from Principia College, & completed graduate work at the Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business & Management.
Besides his innovation-driven start-up mentality, Jeffrey is a former elected official in Seattle, & is currently an FAA commercial pilot. He is also a member of the United States Soccer Federation, Aircraft Owner’s & Pilot’s Association, & the Seaplane Pilot’s Association. When he is not flying exploring the Pacific Northwest backcountry, Jeffrey can be found kayaking through the Puget Sound and other local waters.
The promising future of tech means our workplaces – and society at large – should be accessible, flexible and inclusive. But we are still on a journey to realize this future. Part of being an IT leader today is taking seriously your responsibility to encourage innovation in your corporate culture; an earnest, generous sort of innovation that advances equal access and equal opportunity, both in the workplace and in wider society.
This means encouraging employees to actively seek out opportunities to use technology to innovate with purpose; that is, fostering a culture that prioritizes the use of tech for good, and one that considers business imperatives and priorities alongside ideas with the potential to build a better world.
Why? Because technology has the power to impart real change in the way people conduct themselves and interact with one another. Every organization has the chance to contribute to this movement as we uncover the new and creative ways that we can use technology for good. As leaders, we need to build teams that consider how voice, artificial intelligence, and machine learning responsibly open doors and help us realize a more equitable society—and then enable our teams to make it happen.
Take Pollexy, an AI project that uses Alexa voice commands to help children with autism transition into adulthood and independence – born from an idea an AWS Cloud Architect had to improve his son’s quality of life. Or the use of machine learning to create an app that screens early for autism—a new application of technology enabling Duke University researchers to speed up diagnoses, help children gain an average of 17 IQ points thanks to early detection and intervention, and positively impact a child’s long-term learning.
Both solutions represent a scenario where a team member identified the opportunity to use technology differently, leading to an outcome that significantly improves the quality of life for children with autism. The desire to create something that would make a difference was a powerful component of workplace culture that helped drive these projects forward, resulting in solutions that advance equal access and equal opportunity.
As a leader, if you’re ready to foster a culture of innovation with purpose, here are a few suggestions for encouraging this within your organization:
Don’t create a solution then look for the problem it addresses—start with a real issue being faced by real people. Robot Care Systems, a robotics development company based in the Netherlands, is a great example of this approach to purposeful innovation: they look for uses for robotics that fill a need, like using robotics to help seniors, people with Parkinson’s disease and those with disabilities move about more independently. Their leadership actively encourages employees to think out of the box and look for problems technology can solve, rather than innovating for innovation’s sake.
Collaborate across sectors.
Bringing together unique skill sets, solutions, and areas of expertise can unlock new ways to problem-solve. Groups like the We Power Tech community connects allies and leaders who are building skills, getting engaged with the community, and inspiring the next generation.
Prioritize innovation over idea acceptance.
Require innovation and invention from your teams – and always find ways to simplify so they can focus on this task. When you encourage your teams to be externally aware and look for new ideas from everywhere, you create a culture where advancing social responsibility and business outcomes are considered equally important – and where no one is limited by the words “not invented here.”
Act like a startup, no matter the size of your organization. When we act like a startup, others get inspired by an infectious entrepreneurial spirit and a bias for speedy action. They get creative, insist on the highest standards, and are always looking for new ways to exceed customer expectations. The status quo is never enough – there’s always a new way to improve service delivery or outcomes.