One might wonder if there’s any risk big enough to really frighten Maureen Lonergan.
How about ducking out of the workforce to take two “gap years” in her career — including moving to Mozambique to teach preschool? Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro? Or maybe launching Amazon Web Services’ global Training and Certification organization, and then growing that group from two people to hundreds of employees globally?
Lonergan admits that these moves have been intimidating at times, but that’s OK. “I like the challenge. It doesn’t necessary not scare me to death,” she said, but that’s outweighed by an opposing force — her “desire to contribute.”
Lonergan joined AWS seven years ago as director of Training and Certification. The program has provided cloud skills training in more than 50 countries. The group recently released to the public, for free, the same Machine Learning curriculum that Amazon uses to train its own developers and data scientists. The team also works on AWS Academy, which offers a cloud computing curricula to more than 730 higher-education institutions in three dozen countries.
Now Lonergan is working on AWS re:Start. The pilot program targets disadvantaged youth, military veterans and people returning to the workforce, providing free training on AWS for entry level jobs. AWS re:Start is running in France and the U.K. with plans to expand it more broadly in the future.
Prior to AWS, Lonergan led training programs at California-based software companies including VMware, Symantec and Ariba.
Lonergan said Amazon is an amazing place to work, and she loves the opportunity to train people for technology roles.
“I am the luckiest person in the world. I get to provide services to people that provide them with careers,” she said. But perhaps ironically, that’s also a potential cause of anxiety. “The thing that stresses me out is that I’m not doing it fast enough or good enough.”
We caught up with Lonergan for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.
Current location: Seattle
Computer types: Windows (work) and Mac (personal)
Mobile devices: iPhone (day-to-day life management), and Kindle (to escape into a good novel while traveling)
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Delta to travel the world. VRBO to book vacation homes (preferably near the beach). In my home, I use Alexa devices, including Nest and Ring, and my family and I love watching our library of movies on Apple TV. Flipboard helps me keep up with the news every morning.
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? In-person meetings are my preference, and I’ve set up my office as a meeting space. If I can’t meet in person, I always use my webcam for face time with my global team. Coaching and personal connections matter a lot to me, so I also travel roughly 50 percent of the time so I can meet with folks in person and see them in action.
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? Balance is critical. Spending time with family and friends, prioritizing what’s most important at home and at work, and letting go of the rest sets you up for success. I wake up early to get a head start on my day and energize with a workout, and I prefer to be out of the office by 6 p.m. to unwind for the evening.
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? I prefer to pick up the phone to stay connected with colleagues, friends and family.
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? I’m down to 32. I spent time last night clearing out my inbox.
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 45, but this is a lighter week due to travel.
How do you run meetings? I’ve recently restructured my management meetings. Rather than run through a series of topics each week, one meeting is devoted to a single area of focus. At Amazon, we like to start with a document read. The meeting begins with everyone reading a prepared document on the given topic, and then once the room has read and digested, there’s an open discussion and sharing of feedback.
Everyday work uniform? Jeans and a black top (with the occasional grey, green or blue in the mix), or black dress and tights for formal meetings or presentations.
How do you make time for family? I have a big Irish family, and family is my top priority. I’m lucky to say that many of many family have also relocated to Seattle, so I spend time with them regularly.
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? A workout at Orangetheory Fitness in the morning sets me up for a less stressful day.
What are you listening to? I’m in the middle of “The Dropout,” a podcast about Elizabeth Holmes and the rise and fall of Theranos.
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? I use Flipboard every day to keep up with the news. My favorites include Forbes, Inc, Business Insider, Food and Wine, and Travel.
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? I recently finished a business read called “Get a Grip” by Gino Wickman and Mike Paton, and I’m encouraging my team to read it as well. I’m also reading “The Huntress” by Kate Quinn for my book club.
Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? I’m an early riser with a 4:30 a.m. wake up and 9 p.m. bedtime. I prioritize sticking to my schedule.
Where do you get your best ideas? I love to swim in the morning. During the summer, I get my best ideas swimming on Lake Washington at sunrise.
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? Oprah. She built her brand from the ground up and I admire her as a businesswoman with a strong sense of self.