From Anadarko to Amazon
Oklahoma native shapes public policy at one of the largest internet companies in the world
Huseman (left) with Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos. Photo by Evan Vucci, Associated Press, courtesy of Brian Huseman.
Brian Huseman’s day begins with the same question every morning. “What’s the news?”
It comes as no surprise Amazon’s vice president of public policy converses with his Alexa Flash News Briefing before leading the Americas public policy team at the internet retail giant. The specifics of each day in Washington, D.C., are in constant flux, but Huseman knows he will be at the forefront of technology and innovation.
Hard work and dedication have driven him to the top of the hill, but the foundation to his success began in rural Oklahoma.
Huseman grew up in Anadarko, Oklahoma, home to Western Farmers Electric Cooperative. The executive fondly remembers the organization as the place his mother devoted her career.
“WFEC played a big part in my life growing up,” Huseman says. “It was a terrific place for her to work, and it provided our small town with great programs for families.”
Ingrained with his mother’s strong work ethic, Huseman started working at the town’s Walmart on his 16th birthday, the first day he could legally get a paid job. There he learned many things, but his biggest takeaways were the importance of customer service and hard work.
Kris Williams, Ozarks Electric Cooperative manager of energy services, shares Huseman’s hometown. Through school activities and weekend jobs, Williams says he always admired Huseman for his great sense of humor and innate ability at learning.
“I cannot think of anyone more deserving than Brian,” Williams says. “I believe that he will always remember his roots in a small town like we lived in. Amazon is very fortunate to have such a remarkable individual within their executive level.”
Huseman has returned to Oklahoma recently during planning phases to open Amazon’s first facilities in the state. The capital investment will contribute to growth in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa through an influx of full-time jobs.
“Hiring in Oklahoma is exciting for me,” Huseman says. “I can’t wait to come back for the ribbon cutting.”
Jason Boesch, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives chief financial officer, attended Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, with Huseman. The pair were fraternity roommates in the early ‘90s. Boesch thinks it’s a great thing to have people like Huseman in positions of influence outside of Oklahoma.
“Brian takes his Oklahoma values and common sense with him,” Boesch says. “His accomplishments and likability are also important because it shows everyone outside Oklahoma what kind of good people we have in the state.”
Huseman’s excitement and passion for the customers he serves is apparent in all facets of his decision-making. Although Amazon is one of the largest internet companies by revenue in the world, focus on the individual customer remains at the core.
“I love our founder Jeff Bezos’ take on our approach,” Huseman says. “Bezos said, ‘There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great.’”
This mantra has been behind many of the disruptive innovations customers have grown accustomed to in our modern economy. Free two-day shipping, one-click purchases and Kindle are a mere sampling of examples.
As part of Huseman’s job, he has had the opportunity to talk to many students in D.C. just starting out on their career paths in policy and legal fields. He shares with them his belief that the most important thing is to always be willing and prepared to try new things.
“Finding your path by being willing to have an open mind and embrace the unfamiliar—rather than staying on one specific trajectory—is always worth it, and you just might end up in a much more exciting place than you thought you would.”
Perhaps this advice will guide the next generation of Oklahoma innovators.