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Andy Jassy On How Deloitte, Slalom, Rackspace Became AWS Superstars

The CEOs of those large AWS channel partners all understand the most important attribute of a senior leader: the ability to make hard decisions as to where to prioritize their businesses.

Four or five years ago, Deloitte wasn't a major player in the Amazon cloud ecosystem, AWS CEO Andy Jassy told partners Wednesday.

Then Janet Foutty was selected to run Deloitte Consulting in 2015 and the relationship with the global systems integrator changed fast thanks to leadership from a visionary CEO, Jassy said in a discussion with AWS channel chief Doug Yeum, his former chief of staff, at the re:Invent Global Partner Summit.

"She just totally changed the way they go to the cloud," Jassy said. "It was a very conscious, top-down decision."

[Related: Andy Jassy: 8 AWS Technology Investment Bets For 2020]

Foutty got her team aligned to make a big push, set very aggressive goals, and drove them through, Jassy said.

"Deloitte has an amazing senior leadership team and they are one of our very top SI partners today, but that happened because a senior leader picked an aggressive top-down goal."

Jassy said he can tell almost the same story about Brad Jackson of Slalom.

The CEO of the Seattle-based consulting giant "saw earlier than a lot of other folks what was happening," Jassy told AWS partners.

Jackson "decided not to hedge his bets," Jassy said. "He got really committed to cloud and really committed to helping his clients move into the next generation, very deep with AWS, again one of our very top partners."

And Kevin Jones, who took the top job at Rackspace in April, looks to be following the same model as well, Jassy said.

Foutty, Jackson and Jones all exhibit one of the most important, and often underrated, traits of a CEO: the ability to set priorities.

If you want to be the best in the world at something, "you can't do everything," Jassy told AWS partners.

"So when people present you a choice, your choice is do you want to do these eight things and you say yes, or do you want to do these three or four things equally, you say yes, you're not really making a choice. That prioritization decision you're making is not to prioritize," Jassy said.

It's better to decide on specific business objectives and get leadership teams aligned to that vision, he added.

Much like customers are transforming their businesses by moving to the cloud, partners need to think about transforming themselves. As the CEOs of Deloitte, Slalom and Rackspace exemplify, those initiatives aren't technical, but come down to leadership, Jassy said.

There's an "incredible opportunity unlike any other we've had in our lifetime and we will in our lifetimes to transform companies," Jassy said. "Transform yourselves. It starts with trying to make some hard decisions you have to make on what you're going to prioritize, and where you're going to take your businesses."

Those companies that "try to be everything to everybody, try to be good at everything," Jassy said, "end up usually being mediocre at everything."

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