When you think of operations roles at work places, you assume them to be manned by men. However, the story at Amazon India is rather different. Close to 2,500 women are excelling at Operations roles across Amazon India’s Fulfilment Centres, Sorting Centres and Delivery Stations. Operation managers, program managers, delivery station managers, team leaders, problem solvers, process associates, delivery associates, packers and pickers—name the role, and women are excelling in them all.
Breaking gender roles at work
Take the case of Merin Galmia D'Silva, Amazon India’s first forklift operator. She joined Amazon with an MBA and a Diploma in Logistics under her belt and a dream to work in the logistics space. When the HR team went looking for young recruits with a 4-wheeler license, Merin was the only girl who had one. Recalls Merin, "I did put my hand up but the job wasn't easy. I had to go through rigorous training, where I was first taught how to drive and operate a forklift, followed by related safety procedures. I received world class training and I am happy I got it here at Amazon.” She had to overcome many fears along the way too, but with the support of Amazon and her family, she broke all stereotypes. “I’m proud of myself,” declares Merin.
“When they (men and women) work together, they basically help to create solutions.”
For Priti Shobhnath Gupta and Jyothi Kolukilapalli, both operations associates at Amazon Fulfilment Centres, they look at this job with a sense of self-fulfilment. They echo the thoughts of many such associates when they say, "We are doing a job that we ourselves have chosen and are happy with the choice we have made."
As the number of women in the key operations role increase in number, Steve Walter, Director, HR, Amazon Operations Asia, pins it all down to "culture.” He explains, “Over the last few years, one of our key focus areas has been to build a diverse workforce and create an inclusive work environment. One where everyone can bring the wholeness of who they are into their work everyday, engage in meaningful work, and utilize and be recognized for their unique talent and abilities. A key component of that strategy is to recruit, engage and develop talented women.”
Diversity and inclusion at Amazon India
Many women working across operations roles in Amazon India echo a feeling of empowerment right from day one. “At Amazon Operations, we value diversity and inclusion. We believe this is an integral part of our culture, we seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm held beliefs,” says Akhil Saxena, VP India Operations. Adds Ritu Agarwal, a Fulfilment Centre operations manager, "You own it, you plan it and deliver it with your bias for action.”
“I believe, it’s never the gender, but the mindset that makes or breaks you”
Georgena Bournita, the first female station manager in southern India, began her journey at Amazon as a training manager. “My efforts were recognized and I was given an opportunity to perform as a station manager. I believe, it’s never the gender, but the mindset that makes or breaks you,” says Georgena.
To senior supply chain leader, Bhuvaneswari Mathuraiveeran, Amazon means endless opportunities. “One of the projects I worked on included launching a new fulfilment centre, where I worked with colleagues from various functions like engineering, projects, HR and many others. We worked to launch the site, nurture the site and scale the site,” she says.
Storming a male bastion
Amazon India’s only-women delivery centers in Chandigrah and Chennai stand out as shining examples of transforming lives and nurturing achievers. They are creating unique employment opportunities and enabling women to become achievers in their own right. Read their full story here
With women now storming this male bastion, an affinity group has been created within India Operations, which helps facilitate networking, socialization, skill development and create a sense of belonging among women in Operations. “We believe that men and women have their own individual insights,” says Akhil Saxena, “Understanding of customers, their own ways of thinking and they bring in very unique ideas. When they work together, they basically help to create solutions, which are useful to solve complex problems for our customers, and they invent on behalf of our customers.”