Chandra Balani image
Chandra Prakash Balani
Head, Global Enterprise, India , AWS

I started work for AWS in 2013. I didn’t know much about AWS before I joined, but I remember I watched our CEO Andy Jassy’s keynote video from re:Invent 2012 before I went in for my interview. That video inspired me so much that I decided I definitely wanted to work here. It will be fair to say I chose AWS as much as AWS chose me. At the time, I loved what I was doing in my previous job, however the more I learnt about Amazon, the more I wanted to be on the inside.

I joined AISPL when the company was just launched – it was the first year of our operations in India. I worked with AWS customers in Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, Ahmedabad. We expanded to Bangladesh and Nepal through our partner network. What I remember most from the first few years is that, it was a small team that could fit in one small conference, now my own team is much bigger than the entire India team. I started as the first person in Hyderabad doing everything from field sales, inside sales, partner management, marketing, AWS marketplace, lead management and training for which we now have multiple team members as the business scaled and accelerated.

Today, I head our Global Enterprise team in India, and I get to work with our biggest global customers who are innovating and building to accelerate their digital transformation.

“Working at Amazon means each day still feels like Day 1.”

Looking back, I realize that what has made these eight years amazing is a combination of factors. But most of all is the fact that working at Amazon means each day still feels like Day 1. I often get asked what this means. It means many things, for me it is the passion and positivity that I feel each day. It’s like the first day at a new job each day. It’s like the first day of school. It’s the first day of a new life. Imagine then that you feel this every day. How and why does this happen? Let me try and explain the reasons why I think it does for me.

  1. All employees are treated as leaders and owners, there is no micromanagement and rules. Instead we have leadership principles as guidelines for us to facilitate decision making. It makes you feel empowered to do the right thing for the customers and business just like how you would do as an owner of your business. 
  2. I love the clarity we have at Amazon which comes with the mission statement to be Earth’s most customer centric company. In the last 8 years I have helped so many customers succeed that I have made friends for life by earning their trust.
  3. Amazon has a unique culture of innovation, the company encourages and empowers all employees to innovate on behalf of our customers. There is a saying internally, the only mistake you can make at Amazon is not to make a mistake. You are encouraged to experiment, take risks, think big and innovate. For example, when I saw global customers setting up large tech teams in India, while our existing model was based on supporting the enterprises at their global headquarters, I proposed a dedicated Global Enterprise team in India. This was approved very quickly and in a matter of weeks not only did I get a new role defined by me, but also the resources to get this team up and running quickly. Today, our team has expanded many times over and continues to delight our global customers in India.
  4. I get to hire and work with the best. At Amazon we keep raising the bar with every new person we hire. Our mental model is to figure if the new person we hire would be better than at least 50% of the existing team which ensures that the overall Amazon bar keeps going higher. That means by being one of the first to be hired in this team in India makes me not that smart anymore. That also challenges me to keep aiming higher and raising the bar as I work with my highly talented colleagues. As a tenured Amazonian I get a chance to mentor a lot of new employees not only in my direct team but also extended teams. I have signed up to mentor new managers at Amazon helping them lead with Amazon culture and be successful which is quite satisfying.
  5. I feel honestly incredibly lucky to have seen the AWS business grow globally and in India at an astonishing pace. As the business has grown, so have I. We are encouraged to take on expanded roles, and set up to succeed. In the last eight years, I started as an individual contributor, then became a team leader, a regional manager to now leading our Global Enterprise business in India.
  6. We are intentional at Amazon in building a team that has varying backgrounds, ideas, and points of view to invent on behalf of our customers. We are committed to diversity, inclusion & equity and always look for ways to scale our impact as we grow. We believe that building a culture that is welcoming and inclusive is integral to people doing their best work and is essential to what we can achieve as a company. We actively recruit people from diverse backgrounds to build a supportive and inclusive workplace. We take steps to ensure employees have a sense of belonging and are valued, trusted, connected and informed.
  7. At Amazon most people are driven and are passionate about what they do and bring their best selves to work. However, you can only perform well in your professional life, if you are doing well in your personal life. We encourage and endorse work-life harmony. Even before COVID-19, we supported work from home, flexible office hours and more. We truly believe everyone is a leader and must manage themselves & their day and do not endorse a culture of micro management.
  8. Our vision at AWS in India is to help builders and businesses build a better India. I take tremendous pride that we have been helping India businesses in their digital transformation, helping them become agile and innovate faster. And with the pandemic the speed at which Enterprises, SMBs, Startups, ISVs, Educational institutions and Governments are migrating to AWS cloud has only accelerated bringing closer to our mission to build a better India. I know my job matters and keeps me energized to wake up every morning and look forward to my work. And we are only getting started and we will have miles to go as we build a better India together, it’s still Day 1.