When the going gets tough, the tough get going. So the saying goes, popular with military units across the world. It is not only during active duty that our men and women in uniform face challenges, however. Their transition from disciplined, military roles to civilian corporate careers is equally tough going. Amazon, in particular, regularly brings on board veterans for their natural leadership skills and affinity for getting the job done. Ahead of Independence Day, Amazon India pays tribute to all its defence veterans for their service to the nation as well as for the services they deliver every day to Amazon customers…
Transition: Testing times
Crossing the bridge from a military to a civilian life is never easy and brings its own challenges. While for some like Shivani Bhatia, Senior Program Manager, Delivery Station Regional Management, Amazon India, the transition was a cake walk, others usually face challenges. As Manoj Rajendran, Senior Corporate Counsel (Labor and Employment), Amazon India, shares, “The transition, of course, was not always smooth. I had my team to support me. Having a good mentor and an understanding manager made all the difference. His advice to win over the confidence of the stakeholders and to transform into an enabler made my transition quicker and more efficient.”
“From building submarines to managing last mile operations, it was a cultural shift for me. My trainers and peers helped me to understand the new processes and tools.”
Vijay Subramanian, Senior Manager, Program Management, Amazon Logistics – Global Strategy, shares a similar experience, “From building submarines to managing last mile operations, it was a cultural shift for me. My trainers and peers helped me to understand the new processes and tools. Constant engagement and encouragement and an inclusive environment made a lot of difference. Moreover, three role shifts in a span of five years has helped me keep myself agile and responsive to a rapidly changing environment.”
Security not the only career option
You may be surprised to learn that corporate security is not the only sector manned by veterans today. In fact, many among Amazon India’s army of ex-defence personnel have spread out their career network across sectors as varied as legal and finance. Take the case of Manoj Rajendran, for instance. “I joined the Indian Air Force after completing my law degree and passed out of the Air Force Academy as a Pilot Officer in the Indian Air Force. I later joined the Judge Advocate Generals Branch (JAG) and continued there till my retirement. When I began my corporate career, I joined the legal department of Amazon India.”
Suman Yadav Sr. Manager HR for Amazon India remembers joining the Indian Army as a young Lieutenant in the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers branch more than two decades back and served across the country for 6 years. She hung her boots after her twins were born and took a career break for 5 years. In her first corporate job as HR Generalist, her manager took a bet and hired her laterally with no corporate experience after her career break of 5 years. “In return I was willing to work hard and not let her down,” shares Suman
“The army is a way of life. It teaches you to lead a result oriented team and focus on leadership at all levels.”
Discipline & military training
Defence personnel have certain priceless traits ingrained in them from their years of military training and disciplined lifestyles. Says Shivani, “Integrity, discipline, self-motivation, flexibility, adaptability and goal attainment becomes your second nature in the armed forces. You are always on time and have inherent team management skills—that’s what we bring to the table.” According to Vinod Mathews, Director, Real Estate & Facilites, veterans have the ability to consider alternative solutions under pressure. “You may not solve it completely, but you will definitely make it better,” he shares.
“Being forthright in my opinions, taking ownership and having the ability to withstand pressure in tough situations are work ethos ingrained in me from the Indian Air Force,” adds Rajendran.
Rediscovered their “mission” at Amazon
Amazon employs former defence service personnel across all its business verticals. Honesty, integrity, discipline and dedication to duty are some of the qualities that military veterans bring to the corporate world. These are qualities that Amazon admires and nurtures among its pool of veterans.
For veterans too, working at Amazon and identifying with its focused work ethics helps them rediscover their “mission”. One of the biggest culture shocks for former military personnel is often the feeling of the “loss of a mission” when they switch to a civilian life. Their mission-driven, results-oriented approach make them a great fit for roles across Amazon’s corporate offices and operations network.
“Veterans have the ability to consider alternative solutions under pressure. You may not solve it completely, but you will definitely make it better.”
“The army is a way of life. It teaches you to lead a result oriented team and focus on leadership at all levels. All this and more make the transition to a corporate career at Amazon so much easier,” says Shivani. She adds that at Amazon she is focused on a different kind of mission, “Delivering smiles to customers; but the determination to win is the same as in the armed forces!”
For Vinod Mathews, the regularity of follow-ups, audits and training is something that resonates with his military training. Shares Vijay, “I am very proud because I am part of the team that is transforming how India buys and sells, especially as I have the opportunity to touch the lives of small entrepreneurs.”
Many of them echo the thought that 'Just as in the army they kept the country first and obsessed over it, at Amazon our veterans keep the customer first and obsess over them!'