Michael Arena, Ph.D.


Michael Arena, Ph.D.
VP Talent & Development
Amazon Web Services

Michael Arena is the vice president of talent and development at Amazon Web Services (AWS), where he is responsible for global talent practices, leadership development and learning, organizational effectiveness, new employee success strategies and the organizational research activities to enable the growth and innovation of AWS. 

Prior to joining AWS, Arena was chief talent officer for General Motors Corporation (GM), where he was responsible for enterprise talent management, cultural transformation, leadership development, talent acquisition and people analytics. While at GM he launched GM2020, a grassroots initiative designed to enable employees to positively disrupt the way they work, which was highlighted in Fast Company and Fortune. This initiative and others are highlighted in his best-selling book, Adaptive Space: How GM and Other Companies Are Positively Disrupting Themselves and Transforming into Agile Organizations

His research on adaptation and networks won the 2017 Walker Prize from SHRM's Executive Network, HR People + Strategy and has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Inc., Forbes, Entrepreneur, Harvard Business Review and Sloan Management Review. Prior to GM, Arena spent two years as a visiting scientist with MIT's Media Lab studying network theory. He also served as senior vice president of leadership development at Bank of America, where he co-designed and launched the Center for Future Banking, an initiative created to positively disrupt consumer banking. 

Arena is a faculty member in Penn's Master's in Organizational Dynamics program and acts as a design thinking coach within the Stanford School. He earned his Ph.D. in organizational dynamics from the Union Institute and University. 

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