Growing up in the Midwest, Victoria Le had little idea that she would wind up in Utah working for one of the largest companies in the world.
Initially working in big-box retail early in her career interacting face to face with customers, she was quite happy and thought she would continue in similar roles. But her fortunes took an unexpected turn.
“It’s really what I loved and never thought that I would leave, and then I started (at Amazon) as an entry-level manager, basically an area manager, at a small site outside of St. Louis almost five years ago,” she said. “I hit my five-year anniversary with Amazon on July 4.”
Le has been able to benefit from the opportunities that came her way at Amazon, and she plans to share her experiences with other women looking to advance their careers.
A quick rise and move to the West
A single mom at the time, she began rising quickly, becoming an operations manager. When the company expanded its footprint in Utah, she was offered an opportunity to move to the Beehive State and decided to head West.
“I met my now-husband at (the St. Louis) site, and so we knew that we wanted to live out West. We knew that we wanted to be around the mountains, and so we came and launched this building,” Le said. “We didn’t know anybody out here, had never really been to Utah before and we’ve absolutely fallen in love with the area, with the people, with the building, with everything about it.”
Since arriving, she’s been promoted twice and is now an assistant general manager. As an Asian American woman, she believes her ascension in the company can be an example for others to emulate. And considering where she has come from in her life, leaving a tumultuous first marriage with a young son, she is grateful for the opportunities she’s been afforded over her relatively short tenure at the company.
“This environment, which is incredibly challenging, what we do is hard work and going through that, then coming out on the other end and being incredibly successful here has just been something that I’m incredibly proud of,” she said. “I share it with anyone and everyone that will listen, especially young female leaders. There’s no other way to put it, we are the minority for sure.”
“Young female leaders — they’re growing and they’re finding their voice and they’re finding their style — there’s absolutely a place for everyone here,” she said.
Working to empower others
Since joining Amazon, Le has participated in the ”Girl Power” group — an affinity organization that helps members find kinship within the workplace.
“We meet once a month, we share stories and we share ideas,” she said. “Once COVID calms down, we’ll go back and do off-sites, where we go out of the building and we go play games, do ax throwing or other team-building events so that they know there are people here to support them, that can listen and can relate to. Because it is hard, it is different, but it’s absolutely possible (to be part of a team). It’s my favorite thing to do with the group of leaders we have here.”
Le said one of her goals is to help support other young leaders — female or male — coming up in the company so they can build their confidence and skills.
“You’re not held to a specific set of standards, you can do and be and inspire and change,“ she said. ”Our company promotes that. We want that individuality and that growth to push the needle forward. That’s the change that I really strive to inspire and I strive to teach and help them understand.”
Amazon has recently come under some criticism regarding the treatment of some of its warehouse employees. While she hasn’t witnessed any mistreatment personally, Le said leadership works to figure out solutions for those who might need help.
“We pride ourselves on being able to find something for everyone. It’s an old cliche motto of ‘the right seat on the bus,’ but it’s truly what we do,” she explained. “If somebody is struggling or somebody is having trouble, which happens, of course, it’s going to happen. We have so many options within the building of finding the right job for everyone and I have yet to find a situation that we haven’t been able to help or move or find something that’s right for everyone.”
Amazon currently employs more than 8,000 workers in Utah at seven sites statewide, with growth expected to continue in the future, including two additional delivery stations slated to launch this year. A third delivery station is also planned for next year.
Le is excited about the prospects for her personal future and that of the company that has given her so much professional opportunity thus far in her young career. She looks forward to building on the foundation she has already built and believes that can be even better in the years to come.
“The other buildings that are coming up are much more manual, so if you have a leader that is incredibly creative or inventive or they can look at something and say, ‘I could see this process,’ there may be a better fit for one of those buildings,” she said. “It’s really cool to work with the other assistant general manager and general manager of those sites to find the perfect set of leadership styles per building. That’s been a lot of fun over the last couple of years to watch as all these different buildings pop up.”