Setting The Trend For Design Leaders

Avery Oldt is the Head of Design & Research at Amazon Fashion. We chatted with him to understand the unique ways he leads and how he champions the work of his team. Let's learn his story...

We were able to join Avery as he met his Seattle team for the first time face to face since starting his role at Amazon. It was dark and pouring outside as we walked to meet his team, but the gloomy weather had no dreary impact on the vibrant conversation that evening. Pizzas landed on tables and were quickly consumed. An energetic Pomeranian hopped around dodging feet; hoping for a taste of leftover crusts, and we watched as Avery pulled each of his team members aside for a personal greeting. We couldn’t help but notice how each person left his presence looking happier than when he walked in.

Servant Leadership...

Avery thoughtfully provides his team of designers a safe space to be themselves and grow creatively into their potential. We asked him how he’d already established such a connection with his team just five months into his role and he shared three leadership pillars that shape how he leads; believing that everyone deserves to be happy and fulfilled at work, that it’s his role is to help his team do their best work, and that relationships built on trust, equity, and inclusivity will consistently produce the best design work.

“Everyone deserves to be happy and fulfilled at work.”

Avery doesn’t believe you can just throw money at your organization and expect outstanding results. He believes that you must dedicate quality time and effort on a consistent basis to ensure they feel valued and respected. It’s important to Avery that his team can depend on him to take care of them during work hours.

Avery in real life...

Avery in a Van in the Woods

1 / 3

A writer at heart...

We asked Avery about the unique things he’s uncovered working at Amazon so far. He mentioned loving the Amazon writing culture and how it sets up the design community for success. At Amazon, we bring an idea to life through a detailed writing process that describes who the idea will impact, what customer research we have, and why the idea deserves time and space. Avery explains that “it’s creating a space for design in a way that hasn’t been recognized before”. This thoughtfulness in planning out project launches helps phase out underdeveloped ideas.

Avery loves to write; both at work and in his free time. He’s amassed several thousand followers on LinkedIn who subscribe to his creative posts. He writes for people who are going through tough situations and feel like they are alone or unappreciated. Avery admits that he has gone through similar struggles over the course of his career and uses his platform to be vulnerable and draw connections between him and his followers in the hopes of motivating them to overcome their own obstacles.

The way Avery upholds his leadership pillars is inspiring to us, but so are the unique ways he is creative outside of work. In his free time, Avery is working on a few product design side hustles in stealth mode (stay tuned to his LinkedIn for updates!) or seeking another Volkswagen Westfalia van to either refurbish or add to his personal collection. His family drives them to beautiful nature and hiking spots that take them through San Francisco cityscapes and end at the mountains by the sea.

Advice for Future Designers - “Show them the value!”

As we were opening our umbrellas to say goodbye to Avery and his team, we asked him what advice he has for someone trying to stand out in their career as a new creative. He shared:

“You may feel like you need to convince everyone that you have value. Stop trying to do that. Just show them the value!”

You might have to work through boring work that doesn’t allow you to share your most creative thoughts. He says that if you stand strong, give more than you’re asked, and show the value you can add, that you’ll stand out. Go define your own worth, and in time, you'll find the right place for you and your skills.