Flagging off the Indian edition of the Amazon Career Day 2021 on September 16, 2021, Amit Agarwal, Global Senior VP and Country Head looked back on his own experience of joining Amazon 23 years ago as a software development engineer. Recalling his interview experience, Amit said, “I still remember my interview at a Fulfilment Centre in Seattle. I could watch associates skating around and picking orders while I was discussing picking algorithms with the team. I knew right then that this was a place focused on exciting real world problems using technology to invent at scale.”
Amit shared his memories of working on some of the initial experiments when Amazon first started inviting other sellers to sell alongside Amazon in order to dramatically increase the selection for customers. “We started with auctions and failed. We tried building Z shops on Amazon and failed yet again. It was only in our third try that we invented marketplace as we know if today. Through our journey, we remained adamant on our vision to offer universal selection but were flexible on the details,” said Amit.
Drawing on this experience, Amit spoke about the underlying lesson that if you want to truly invent, you need to be comfortable with being misunderstood, be willing to fail and think long-term. “I also had the opportunity to be part of the team that started AWS adding developers as one more customer set. And later on, I served as Jeff Bezos’ technical advisor. These experiences further reinforced for me our relentless obsession with customers, inventing on their behalf, and thinking long-term,” he added.
“Just like me, several Amazonians have tapped into their potential and created their unique journeys.”
Amit also spoke about how Amazon’s DNA and culture are a big part of why the company has attracted some of best builders. It also explains why millions of small businesses and customers across the country are increasingly relying on Amazon for their day to day lives and livelihoods. “Just like me, several Amazonians have tapped into their potential and created their unique journeys. But the common denominator has been the ability to safely and purposefully wander and explore, feel, invent and meaningfully impact customer lives at a massive scale,” Amit said.
Careers at Amazon India
The Amazon Development Centre stated in Bangalore in 2003. 18 years down, Amazon in India employs over one lakh professionals across diverse areas - including engineering, applied sciences, business management, supply chain operations, finance, HR, analytics, content creation, marketing, real estate, corporate security, video, music, and many more. India is also the second largest technology hub for Amazon globally with talented software developers, project managers, machine learning scientists and research scientists as part of the team. The Amazon India team is powering innovations not only for India but also for customers globally.
They are building services that practically touch every aspect of the customer journey with Amazon. For instance, the team in Bangalore has built a cloud-based warehouse management system to help sellers streamline their operations and send orders fast to customers. While this was launched in India first, it is now being used by selling partners worldwide to serve millions of customers. Another team developed a vision based information extraction capability that is used to automate identity verification, helping streamline the new seller onboarding experience worldwide. One of the AI teams is using computer vision and deep learning technologies to grade produce for customers.
“What really drives us is our unique workplace culture driven by our leadership principles that truly reflect in our work every day.”
AWS teams are working on the AWS quantum computing application labs in partnership with the ministry of electronics and information technology. “This happens to be the world’s first quantum computing lab on AWS to support our National government’s mission to drive innovation, said Amit. “Indian customers not only trust Amazon for their shopping needs but also engaged with us every day from paying bills using Amazon Pay, listening to music on Amazon Prime music and getting entertained on Prime Video.”
Amit also spoke about how Amazon is using technology to power India’s societal infrastructure. A case in point is Alexa, which is powering schools in a remote area in central India by enabling students to engage with Alexa in Hindi and encouraging them and improving their grasp of math, science, English, and general knowledge.
“Across all of these, what really drives us is our unique workplace culture driven by our leadership principles that truly reflect in our work every day. Not surprisingly, the list starts with customer obsession as out first principle. Another one reminds us that seeking diverse perspectives is key to being right a lot. We believe that building a culture that is welcoming and inclusive is integral to diversity,” said Amit.
Amazon India has numerous initiatives to attract the best builders out there, be it hiring women who have taken a break through the rekindle hiring program, being inclusive of the LGBTQ community, attracting military veterans or focusing its efforts on hiring PWD candidates.
“We are committed to creating a safer, more productive, high performing, more diverse and inclusive work environment.”
Amit also spoke about a recent addition to Amazon’s Leadership principles, which states that the company strives to be the Earth’s best employer. “It something that we have believed in but are now reiterating and have codified as a principle to guide us forward,” said Amit. “We are committed to creating a safer, more productive, high performing, more diverse and inclusive work environment where builders can thrive and ensure personal success.”
Amit also spoke about another leadership principle that reminds employees that success and scale bring broad responsibility. “We go about each day with a responsibility to make better, do better and be better for our customers, employees, partners and the world at large creating more than we have consumed and leaving things better than we found them,” said Amit. “We have a peculiar Day One mentality that encourages us to approach everything we do with the same customer obsession and entrepreneurial energy as the day that Amazon was founded.”
“ India is at the threshold of a digital transformation, one that will have a profound impact on driving inclusion and equity in our society and gear India towards building a trillion dollar economy.”
The Amazon India Opportunity
“As I look ahead, I truly believe that India is at the threshold of a digital transformation, one that will have a profound impact on driving inclusion and equity in our society and gear India towards building a trillion dollar economy,” said Amit. “This will require significant investments in technology and infrastructure. Amazon’s global scale and local momentum over the last few years uniquely positions us in a role as a catalyst in fuelling India’s transformation.”
Last year, Jeff Bezos made a prediction that the next century will be India’s century. To back it up, Amazon has made a pledge to digitize 10 million small businesses, enable 10 billion in exports, and create two million jobs.
“I wake up every day feeling grateful about the opportunity to work alongside some of the smartest people to solve some really hard problems and innovate at scale,” said Amit. “With Amazon India, I feel we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to tap into India’s potential to transform lives and livelihoods and leave behind a lasting legacy.”
Addressing participants of the Career Day 2021, Amit said, “ I invite you to join us in creating this legacy and building a purposeful career. Indeed, it’s still Day One.”