AWS VP spins employee question about engineer turnover as a good thing: ‘It’s making us better.’

  • Some AWS employees are concerned about senior engineer attrition.
  • AWS VP Prasad Kalyanaraman told employees last month that attrition helps the company focus.
  • According to Kalyanaraman, AI products can also help employees be more productive.

Some Amazon Web Services employees are concerned about a large number of senior engineer departures.

However, at least one AWS executive spun it as a positive.

According to a transcript of the meeting obtained by Business Insider, VP of infrastructure services Prasad Kalyanaraman answered an employee question about turnover among senior engineers at AWS’s internal staff meeting last month.

According to Kalyanaraman, having fewer people and resources can be advantageous because it forces you to be more selective in your focus areas.

“It actually lets us build better products, in my opinion, because you’re actually being pointed about what features are needed,” Kalyanaraman went on to say. “I think it’s making us better.”

According to Kalyanaraman, AWS’s headcount has grown significantly in recent years, and now is a good time to “demonstrate our frugality principle,” one of Amazon’s 16 leadership principles.

“Frugality breeds innovation for us,” he went on to say. “You have to ruthlessly prioritize things.”

During last month’s meeting, the topic of employee turnover and burnout came up several times. It is one of the many issues that AWS employees are currently facing, along with slower growth and a more bureaucratic culture, as previously reported by BI.

Amazon’s spokesperson, Rob Munoz, told BI that employee attrition at AWS has decreased in recent years.

“Yet again, Business Insider cherry picks quotes to create a false narrative.” As we previously stated, attrition among AWS employees has decreased in recent years, and to suggest otherwise is incorrect. “Frugality breeds innovation because it requires prioritization, which helps us build better products for our customers,” Munoz said in a statement.

During the same meeting, AWS SVP Peter DeSantis stated that addressing employee burnout requires being more vocal about it.

“The thing that leads to burnout is not having a plan and not being able to change the things that are causing our stress,” DeSantis said in a statement. “And so if that’s not working, then as a group escalate and figure out how you fix it.”

Over the last year, Amazon experienced its largest layoffs in company history, shedding over 27,000 jobs in total. AWS was also impacted by the budget cuts. AWS has also lost some of its most prominent executives in the last two years, including former SVP Charlie Bell, marketing chief Rachel Thornton, and data center VP Chris Vonderhaar.

At the meeting, AWS VP Kalyanaraman stated that employees should consider using generative AI technologies at work because it can help them become more productive. Amazon released Amazon Q, an AI chatbot for businesses, this week, and previously released CodeWhisperer, a coding assistant for developers.

“It’s actually important to really use it in our day-to-day lives,” he told me. “And I think it’ll actually improve our productivity pretty significantly.”

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