September 2023

Exit Interview

By Kristi Coulter
Exit Interview is a cleareyed look at women in corporate America, particularly tech, noting how far from parity they remain in those worlds.
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Kristi Coulter (Nothing Good Can Come From This) details her 12 grueling years as an Amazon executive in Exit Interview, her funny, candid memoir. In 2006, Coulter felt stalled in her work and life. She had earned an MFA in writing at the University of Michigan, but now worked in management, marketing DVDs in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “I’m thirty-five and can’t remember the last time I changed or learned in any big way. I’m bored with my job and my town, but also—especially—with myself.” When she spotted an opportunity at the then still-newish Amazon, she went for it, getting hired to manage the team that merchandised books and media. Soon, she and her husband, John, had begun a new West Coast life.

Coulter takes us along on her wild Amazon ride, from her first days at a company where desks were made of plywood scraps, where there were pointedly no perks like free food or on-site child care and where the crises came fast and frequently, to the moment years later when she knew she’d had enough. Early on, she notices that there was “something lumpy about Amazon’s demographics. When I’m in a room with people beneath me in seniority . . . a solid third of them are women. But when I’m with my peers or senior leaders, men usually outnumber women at least three to one.” Working seven days a week, Coulter found that the feeling of failure rarely left her, and she needed three or more glasses of wine every night to calm down from the day’s stresses. Coulter adds depth to the narrative by braiding the story of her Amazon years with her slow journey to sobriety, which changed her sense of herself and her life. Nevertheless, over the next 10 years, she rose through multiple departments, including Amazon Publishing and Amazon Go.

Coulter is a delightful, funny guide, giving us an insider’s view of Amazon’s quirks and toxicities, and she’s alert to the personalities and characters around her (including glimpses of Jeff Bezos and his management style). Occasionally, the memoir uses alternative forms, like the chapter “Events in the History of Female Employment” that mixes memoir and women’s history to funny and infuriating effect.

An engaging, well-paced, and thoughtful memoir, Exit Interview takes a cleareyed look at women in corporate America, particularly tech, noting how far from parity they remain in those worlds.

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Exit Interview

Exit Interview

By Kristi Coulter
ISBN 9780374600907

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