Michael Arena, Ph.D., is the Co-founder of Syndezo. Previously he was Vice President of Talent & Development at Amazon Web Services (AWS), where he was responsible for the global talent practices, leadership development and learning, organizational effectiveness, new employee success strategies, and the organizational research activities to enable the growth and innovation for AWS. Michael was nominated to the Thinkers50 Radar class of 2020 for his work leveraging network roles in creating adaptive organizations: brokers, connectors, energizers, and challengers.
Prior to joining Amazon, Michael was the Chief Talent Officer for General Motors Corporation where he was responsible for enterprise talent management, cultural transformation, leadership development, talent acquisition, and people analytics. While at GM he launched GM2020, a grass roots initiative designed to enable employees to positively disrupt the way they work, which was highlighted in
Fast Company and
Fortune magazine. 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 People + Strategy and has been cited in the
Wall Street Journal,
Harvard Business Review, and
Sloan Management Review. Prior to GM, Michael spent two years as a visiting scientist with MIT’s Media Lab researching human networks. 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, to positively disrupt consumer banking.
Michael is a faculty member in Penn’s Masters in Organizational Dynamics program and acts as a design thinking coach within the Stanford School.