2018 Business Leader of the Year Award Dinner



The 49th Annual Business Leader of the Year Award Gala was held on October 4, 2018.  The largest annual fundraiser event for the Harvard Business School Association of Northern California (HBSANC) was once again a big success, with an almost full capacity ballroom at the Ritz Carlton SF celebrating the 2018 BLD honoree! 


This year HBSANC honored Andy Jassy, Founder & CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS) who brought in an impressive crowd of family, friends, partners and colleagues.  Among some of the sponsors and guests were:  sponsors included Stripe, AWS, SmugMug, Telstra Ventures, VMware, Summit Partners, Twilio, Deloitte, Kleiner Perkins, Goldman Sachs, and many more; guests incuded Andy’s parents (Everett & Margie Jassy) and wife (Elana Jassy) Scott Wagner (CEO GoDaddy), Harrison Miller (CEO Summit Partners), Noah Eisner (Co-founder of Coupa), Don MacAksill (CEO & Co-founder SmugMug), Ariel Kelman (AWS VP WW Marketing), Mike Clayville (AWS Head of Sales), Pitch Johnson & Bill Draper (Past BLD Honorees) John Seely Brown (Director of Xerox PARC), at least 4 tables from Class of 1997, members of HBS and many others! 


Andy’s accomplishments, innovative thinking and passion in creating the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform with AWS exemplify his leadership abilities and dedication to success.  In just a little over a decade he’s grown AWS services to a run rate of >$24B in annualized revenues and more than 10,000 employees across the world.  Andy is indeed deserving of this year’s recognition and honor as the 2018 Business Leader of the Year! A big congratulations to Andy during the presentation of the award by the Co-Chairs of the event, Tom Sly, Ben Dubin and Dan Ahn was made more memorable with a surprise when Ben comically introduced a congratulatory video from Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon), Andy’s boss, mentor and friend.  In the video Jeff lists some of the past esteemed and distinguished leaders chosen for this award and said, “It wasn’t a surprise to learn that Andy had made the cut too.  Andy’s brilliant, organized, hardworking, visionary and Andy’s quirky!”  Jeff then goes on to support all of Andy’s accolades with witty and thoughtful examples and stories.


After the surprise video from Jeff B, the program moved to a fireside chat with special guest, Dan Croteau, CEO of Surgical Supplies who is also a close personal friend and ex HBS roommate of Andy.  He provided a snapshot of the Andy outside of AWS and Amazon.  In speaking about Andy as a friend Dan said, “He’s a better friend than he is a business person…For people who know him outside of business, he goes out of his way to make a special connection with a lot of people, whether you need advice, an ear or just a good friend”.  In addition to learning more about Andy and his journey at Amazon/AWS and his insights, lessons learned, growth, etc. there, the audience had a unique opportunity to  experience a more personal side  Andy.  When asked about who inspires him and who he looks up to, he first and foremost listed his family.  “For sure starting with my Dad…he really prioritized work and family and those were the 2 things he was really committed to and he was so good at both of them.  He was unbelievably smart, analytical, high integrity and humble…I just wanted to be like my Dad!”  The next person on the list, his Mom, “My Mom was tireless and the only reason I got to do the things I did was because of my Mom….She’s also wicked smart….she taught me how to advocate for myself”.  In reference to his wife, Elana, “Elana, my wife!!....luckiest thing that ever happened to me…she made me better in every way.”


We also learned during the questions part of the chat, that Andy cares deeply about education in the U.S.  “Education is an area I’m really passionate about and am involved in outside of work and continue to try to learn more in that space.  I think we really have a significant education crises in the country and for some reason people don’t recognize it.”  He continues by stating, “We are now 35th out of 50 in developed countries in education and if we don’t think that’s gonna impact the competitiveness of our country for our kids and grandkids, we’re fooling ourselves.”


Not only was the celebration for Andy an entertaining and successful event, the evening was an opportunity for folks to connect to business leaders across industries, network with colleagues and new acquaintances, catch up with old friends and classmates and just have a good time!

Proceeds from this event support the Harvard Business School Association of Northern California. The HBSANC is a non-profit organization, whose mission is to CONNECT and INSPIRE the over 7,000 HBS alumni in the Bay Area and enable them to make a positive IMPACT on their community.

The HBSANC fields a broad range of events and programs for alumni, including the award-winning Community Partners program (servicing Bay Area nonprofits) the  and fast-growing StartUp Partners program (servicing the Bay Area’s Entrepreneurial environment, including nonprofit startups).  Additionally alumni can take advantage of the other amazing programs in HBSANC, e.g. the 1 Harvard New Venture Competition (recognizing exceptional Start ups in the community), Alumni Forums (offering professional and personal growth), Alumni Angels (offering mentoring, angel investing) and other engaging programs.  

HBSANC members can watch the full-length the videos from case study and fireside chat.  Click here to access event photos.



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