Reign FC Legend: Amy Bohutinsky
The Legends Campaign, a partnership between Seattle Reign FC and Avanade, honors women for their extraordinary contributions in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Prior to our June 3 match against Orlando Pride, Seattle Reign FC will recognize Amy Bohutinsky as a Seattle Reign FC Legend.
Amy Bohutinsky is the Chief Operating Officer of Zillow Group. After starting her career in broadcast journalism, Bohutinsky joined Zillow in 2005 before the company launched its website. Ten years later, she was promoted to COO.
As COO, Amy oversees Zillow Group’s people organization (HR, recruiting and learning & development), as well as marketing, communications, consumer care, and facilities. Bohutinsky also headed The Home Project, Zillow’s first social impact program. The Home Project addresses the homelessness epidemic in the Seattle area. Zillow recently announced its intent to pledge up to $5 million over the upcoming years to help provide permanent housing to homeless people.
Q: Did you play sports growing up, or come from a sports background before joining Zillow?
A: I was captain of my high school tennis team, and I also played tennis in college. That was my big sport growing up and something I spent a lot of time on. When I reflect on myself and the way I work, I think the competitiveness of the sport is something that I definitely still have today. I liked that it provided a balance between a team sport and an individual sport. Tennis is largely an individual sport but in high school and college you’re part of a greater team.
Q: Can you explain your journey in the workforce that lead you to your current position?
A: One of the things that’s made my career so fulfilling is the crooked career path. My first job out of college was in broadcast journalism as a TV news reporter in a couple of small and mid-sized cities. Growing up, that was something I always wanted to do. I majored in journalism in college, and then I got out there and I started doing it, and I didn’t like it. It wasn’t what I imagined. Those first couple of years out of college, it was a really difficult thing to confront. This dream that I had for years and years, I very quickly realized wasn’t for me. I didn’t know what I was going to do next. I had to take a big leap and try something entirely new. Three years after I graduated college I moved to San Francisco when the internet industry was just starting out. From there I grew a lot.
That was one of the first big moments of taking a leap of faith and not knowing what was next. Taking that risk into the unknown opened an entirely new area of myself and helped me learn an enormous amount. Ever since then, I’ve been really interested in and excited about the idea of a crooked career path and the importance of trying something new.
Q: If you had to choose one aspect of your job, what would you say is the most rewarding part?
A: I moved to Seattle from San Francisco to join the founding team of Zillow in 2005, before we launched Zillow.com. My job in the early days was to create and build the Zillow brand and turn it into a household name. It felt like a daunting goal at the time, but it also felt very exciting. Looking back over a decade later, we accomplished our goal and more.
I’m proud of the work my team has done over the past decade. I’m also proud of the people we have here and the careers we’ve been able to build. There are people here who were hired as interns nine or ten years ago that are now in significant leadership positions. Watching them grow and take their own career path — and coaching them through this — is hugely rewarding. It’s one thing to see it in yourself but it’s an entirely other thing to see it in other people. I love that I’ve been in a position to impact people’s lives by opening opportunities for them.
Q: Why do you think so many people in leadership positions come from unconventional, non-linear career paths?
A: I think one of the traits that is part of being a great leader is being able to understand the big picture. To be able to do that takes a couple of things. It takes curiosity and asking a lot of questions, and wanting to learn about a lot of different areas and not just one narrow slice of it. I think a lot of great leaders have the experience of doing a little bit in a lot of different areas, and are also curious and have a learning mindset.
Q: What are you most proud of?
A: I’m most proud of the influence I’ve had — either through the products we’ve built or the teams we’ve built — on other people’s lives. Specifically, in creating Zillow 13 years ago, we allowed people access to information around their biggest, most expensive, most emotional purchase of their lifetime. I’m proud of the impact I’ve been able to have on my kids, when they see their mom having a successful career in a leadership role. I have a boy and a girl, and what that tells them about what women can do, I love that I’m able to have that impact from a young age.
Q: What advice would you give to women entering the workforce?
A: Don’t be so caught up in an outcome. Instead, focus your energy on what you want to learn along the way. I was so focused on this outcome of what I thought I wanted to be that it was really hard to take a left turn from that. But looking back, I’m so glad I did. I opened myself up to all these opportunities I never thought were possible. Focus on what you want to learn and how you want to feel along the way. That can lead to pretty amazing things.