In a Prime Position Man Sitting in Hanson Hall

In a Prime Position

Monday, October 16, 2017


Hometown: Coon Rapids, Minnesota

Program: Part-Time MBA

Current position: Vice President of Finance – Digital, Advertising, and Corporate Development, Amazon

Previous career experience: Honeywell, ADC Telecommunications, Ecolab, Toshiba

Advice for students interested in tech: “Much of tech is unwritten, and there’s no playbook that you can necessarily go by. So the ability to deal with ambiguity becomes not something you can do but something you want to do, just because everything, by its very definition, is innovative.”

Sure, he would come up to Seattle and talk. It was Amazon, after all. But Dan Jedda, ’99 MBA, was not interested in leaving Orange County and his current employer.

The Minnesota-born-and-raised financial wonk had taken his time adjusting to life in California after relocating from his beloved home state for a job with Toshiba less than two years earlier. So as he headed up the Pacific coast for an interview with Amazon, he harbored no expectations that it would lead to another move.

One eight-hour session later, he was ready to pack his bags.

“It was such an impressive day trip for me, to be talking to some of the smartest people and having them ask me some extremely difficult and deep analytical questions,” recalls the Carlson Part-Time MBA Program alumnus. “It was a really, really fun interview. I did not expect it at all.”

Four months later, Jedda started at Amazon, where he’s spent the past 12 years. As the company’s vice president of finance for digital, advertising and corporate development, he oversees the financial operations for areas that include Amazon’s digital music and video offerings and its entertainment production studios, as well as advertising and mergers and acquisitions.

“Being part of this e-commerce and digital revolution, with Amazon being at the forefront in my opinion, has been an unbelievable ride,” he says. “You’re lucky if you ever get a chance in your lifetime to be part of such a unique story. And I feel truly honored and privileged to be able to be part of that story.”

Maturing in business

Jedda was working as a treasury manager at Honeywell when he decided he wanted an MBA but also liked his job too much to leave to attend school full time. “Carlson was just a logical choice,” he says.

He says his MBA education helped him “mature as a business professional in understanding less about theory and more about application.” Lessons from courses on company valuations, marketing, and bond yield resonated with his professional experiences, while his fellow part-time students brought perspectives from a range of industries and functional areas. He still remembers a classmate who worked in yield management at Northwest Airlines explaining how seat prices were adjusted.

“It was great to see all of this experience, this so-called real-world experience, in the classroom,” he says.

He’s still in touch with a handful of former classmates and even recruited one to join him at Amazon. And Jedda has played a leading role in building the pipeline from the Carlson School to Amazon in recent years. 

“I never thought I would leave Minnesota, but I come back here, it’s still home. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m so emphatic on getting Carlson more involved with Amazon. I think it’s a great program, I think Minnesota’s a great state, and you don’t have to forget your roots when you pick up and leave.” says Jedda, who still rabidly follows the Gophers, Vikings, Twins, and Wild. “You can still call Minnesota home.

"You're lucky if you ever get a chance in your lifetime to be part of such a unique story. And I feel truly honored and privileged to be able to be part of that story." 

Dan Jedda, ’99 MBA

The digital revolution continues

No day at Amazon is the same, he says. When he first arrived in Seattle in 2005, Amazon Prime was just in its infancy as a free two-day shipping service. The company had yet to launch streaming music or video, never mind its television and movie studios.

“If you would have ever asked me, ‘Would Amazon ever get into making TV shows and movies?,’ I would have said, ‘No way,’” he says. “And here we are, making TV shows and movies. And there’s countless examples of that.

“It is such a privilege to work with such smart and innovative people. You’re surrounded by them. You’re never the smartest person in the room.”