When someone asks me to describe Amazon’s culture, I immediately point them to our Leadership Principles. These 16 principles recognize that every Amazon employee is a leader, and we look to every employee to use the principles to invent and deliver on behalf of customers. Anyone who knows me knows that I carry a laminated version of the Leadership Principles everywhere I go, and I look to them when we’re thinking about new, big ideas for customers or solving challenges.
One of our Leadership Principles is to Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer, and it reminds us about our role in supporting and developing our colleagues. It includes some very specific guidance—“Leaders ask themselves: Are my fellow employees growing? Are they empowered? Are they ready for what’s next? Leaders have a vision for and commitment to their employees’ personal success, whether that be at Amazon or elsewhere.” And, while the People eXperience and Technology organization does a lot of work to support and develop employees, we are at our best in developing employees at the scale of Amazon if every employee has opportunities to accelerate their development.
What I love about this is that it reminds us that every Amazon employee can play a role in developing their co-workers. One of the ways we support our colleagues is through mentorship, which has taken many forms at Amazon over the years, whether through informal networks established by employees, programs that took root in smaller orgs, or the more formal Amazon Mentoring Program (AMP), which we established in 2016. AMP is available to every Amazon employee globally and connects prospective mentees to mentors, provides structure to their relationships, creates opportunities for skill building, and helps people grow their networks inside Amazon.
AMP has grown from 18,800 participants in 2016 to more than 159,000 in 2022.
I’ve been fortunate to have many mentors who helped guide and shape my career, and I still seek out mentors today. When I first joined Amazon, it took me some time to understand how to apply our Leadership Principles. While they all made sense individually, it was really hard to figure out how to do them all at once, like how to Think Big but also have Bias for Action. My first mentor at Amazon was Jim Sterner, Amazon’s VP of People eXperience and Technology for our Global Media and Entertainment business. While Jim actually worked for me, he had many years of experience at Amazon, and he quickly became a trusted partner and safe place for me to ask my “dumb questions.” And even though I’ve now been at Amazon for 10 years, I still seek Jim out when I’m wrestling with a really hard problem.
I wanted to share the stories—in their own words—of a few Amazon employees who, like me, have benefited from mentoring. My hope is that these stories will inspire more people to seek out a mentor to help them reach their goals, or to mentor someone themselves.
Tengfei Yin, software developer engineer, London
“AMP is an amazing mechanism for connecting employees and fostering their growth. My mentee and I connected on AMP in February 2022, and had around 10 discussions covering various topics—including product design, project management, task prioritization, and data-driven decision making. By openly sharing our views on the topics, I realized this was a truly mutually beneficial process for all participants. My mentee saw many angles that I had missed, and became a real inspiration for me. Today, I heard that, after one year, my mentee received good Forte feedback from both peers and managers, which was delightful news and made my day. I can confirm my mentee has grown significantly. That old Amazon employee who was a bit stressed and struggling to juggle multiple balls is long gone. Instead, a calm and confident Amazon employee with clear thinking and growing ambitions (Think Big) is ready for upcoming challenges. Thank you, AMP! Your role is vital in making all these wonderfully positive changes happen.”
Abraham Rodriguez, quality assurance engineer, Mexico City
“AMP helps mentees by providing communication with peers who are willing to provide their experience and expertise to solve issues, or discuss topics from a different perspective. By being part of the program as a mentee, I have been able to discuss struggles I’ve had at Amazon. By having conversations with my mentor, I was able to identify gaps in my performance that were previously unknown to me, and to discuss changes to activities I had on my plate to provide more value. The suggestions my mentor gave were helpful, and the way I looked at things shifted, so I could have a fresh view of projects and activities whenever needed. Now, I can ask myself ‘What would my mentor do or say?’ I am glad to say communication worked both ways. We shared experiences, and it was truly great to see some of my points of view were valid. The plan is to continue this contact and growth by enabling conversation in upcoming projects and experiences.”
Anurag Das, system development engineer, Bangalore, India
“Ever since I moved from Amazon Selling Partner support to Amazon Web Services (AWS) accounts and billing support in 2019, my goal was to become a cloud engineer and get into the hard-core tech platform of AWS. And this would not have been possible without the immense support and help from my mentor, Prasad Rao. Regularly scheduled discussions with Prasad helped me hone my technical skills and also get a better understanding of Amazon’s Leadership Principles. His guidance and shared experiences have been invaluable in making a journey a success at Amazon. In addition to this, I also got promoted from L3 to L4 in the hard-core tech part of AWS, which was icing on the cake.”
Carlos Carreras, mentor & VP of Latinos at Amazon, New York
“The Latinos at Amazon affinity group introduced LIFT (Latinos Inspiring, Fulfilling, and Thriving) mentoring circles at the start of 2023, in partnership with AMP. Spearheaded by Rebecca Gonzales and Leticia Ambriz, LIFT supports our mission to foster mechanisms that help members grow long-lasting careers at Amazon, turning our company into the best place to work for Latino talent at every level. To date, we have launched 13 mentoring circles with 178 participants across Amazon organizations. I have the privilege of leading one of our LIFT circles, engaging with mentees across various orgs, including AWS and Ads. Our circle includes builders with tenures ranging from six months to four years, and industry experience ranging from early career to decades of knowledge. The best part of the process is that, by coming together, we learn from each other. The conversations are candid, insightful, and provide multifaceted perspectives on a variety of topics, including our Leadership Principles. I’m a huge fan of mentoring and particularly mentoring circles; it’s been a fantastic experience to see mentees progress professionally.”
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