Two of Amazon’s largest non-US markets, Canada and Mexico, have been led since 2016 by a Quebecer, Alexandre Gagnon. A sign that the e-business giant founded by Jeff Bezos intends to be more present in the coming years, interviews the vice president.
“Quebec is very important to Amazon, and certainly very important to me,” says Gagnon. There is no announcement that I can share, but it’s something we’re still evaluating. ”
Community in Seattle
How does a native of Quebec, “and big fan of the Nordiques”, he says, found himself at the head of Amazon Canada and Amazon Mexico? “It’s been an adventure. I have always had a passion for truly innovative organizations that want to do things differently. ”
After working in non-profit organizations in Quebec, British Columbia and Mexico, he married an American from Seattle. When Amazon, which built its headquarters there, opened its Canadian subsidiary in 2002 and was looking for bilingual employees, it was available, “in the right place at the right time,” he says.
He became Director of Operations for Canada and Mexico, and in 2016, Vice President for both markets.
Three times the Quebec budget
Since 2011, Gagnon says, Amazon has invested about $3 billion and now has more than 10,000 employees in Canada. In Quebec, its only physical presence is a data center linked to its AWS cloud service.
For one year, it has also been learned, about twenty representatives of Amazon have registered in the Registry of Lobbyists of Quebec to try to obtain data hosting contracts from government departments and agencies.
The presence in Quebec of a giant American who reported sales of 310 billion in 2018 – almost three times the annual budget of the Quebec government – worried, Mr. Gagnon is aware. When Amazon is presented as a threat to Quebec retailers, however, it is wrong.
” According to the Quebec Retail Council, retailers’ sales rose by 3.3% in 2018, and are not decreasing. – Alexandre Gagnon
“I believe that everywhere in the world there is a transition to online shopping. Of course, such a big change requires a lot of adaptation. ”
Amazon, he assures, is also the partner of thousands of Quebec and Canadian SMEs who benefit from its transactional platform. It is estimated that in Canada, 50% of sales to Amazon actually come from third parties, companies like DavidsTea, GoWood and Le Château that display hundreds of products.
“We can benefit from this transformation, says the vice president. What I find fascinating is that a big company like Amazon can facilitate this transition for its partners. ”
Beyond the astronomical sales figures and a formidable transactional platform, Amazon has a guideline that has hammered its founder for more than two decades: innovation. “What Mr. Bezos shares and that drives people at Amazon is the notion of constantly innovating and having everything in the customer experience,” says Alexandre Gagnon. It’s fascinating to work in a box where all people are aligned and want to improve just to do a better job for the consumer. It’s simple, it’s easy, this philosophy. ”