We invited the duo to share their experience of being an Amazonian for a day. Here’s what they had to say.
Amazon is a place for builders. We welcome people to join us in this journey as we innovate on behalf of customers. We launched #ADayAtAmazon as an initiative to nurture future leaders and give them access to Amazon’s unique work culture. Two students—Riya Mehta from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB) and Gokul VS from Mumbai’s SP Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJMR)—recently had the opportunity to shadow Akhil Saxena, VP, Customer Fulfilment, APAC, MENA, LATAM and WW Customer Service, Amazon, for a day. The two students were the winners of nationwide competition that garnered participation from over 1,300 students across 14 premier business schools.
Their journey began with a visit to Amazon’s fulfilment center in Bangalore, following which they were joined by Akhil in our corporate office. The day-long engagement also included meetings with several members of the Operations leadership team across India and global. Riya and Gokul participated in business meetings, experienced decision making, and learned about Amazon’s peculiar ways.
Delivering at scale—a ring side view
By Riya Mehta
I knew I would be submitting my entry for #ADayAtAmazon as soon as I read the description of the competition on Unstop. But when my LinkedIN feed started getting flooded with hundreds of entries, my chances of being selected were slim. I was taken by surprise when I got a call from Amazon about my selection; I was over the moon. The opportunity was huge, and I wanted to make the most of it.
The team at Amazon thought it would be a great idea for Gokul and I to see the operations end of things first hand, hence we visited a fulfilment centre in Bangalore first. The size of the building, its operations behind the scenes, and the obsession with safety were awe-inspiring. We were taken on a tour and shown the process right from when the seller inventory arrives via the inbound dock door to picking customer orders, to packaging, and the very interesting stage of Slam. The automation and technology used in all these processes were beyond our imagination.
Post that, we had the opportunity to shadow Akhil Saxena for the day in the Bangalore office. We were surprised to learn that Akhil had prepared for our meeting by going through our profiles and taken the time to understand our interests. We attended back-to-back meetings and met several leaders. In our first meeting, we sat through a review of the Prime Day 2022 sale, one of the largest annual shopping events at Amazon. It was interesting to understand how the team established learnings to build improvements for next year’s event. In another meeting, we discussed Amazon’s vison for using electric vehicles in its transportation and delivery services. Getting to see top leaders brainstorm ideas to solve real world problems was the best part of my day. All leaders had data on their fingertips, were quick to come up with ideas, and were open to accepting if they didn’t know something.
Our lunch with Akhil was another highlight. We got to see him in his natural element, telling us stories of his childhood when his father served in the Indian Army. More meetings followed post lunch, but the common theme of continuous improvement and Amazon’s customer-centric approach guided all meetings. True to Amazon’s peculiar working style, we were given documents to read before meetings, and were brought into discussions and encouraged to share our opinions. I felt included, heard, and valued.
The day ended with an informal session where we had the opportunity to ask Akhil some interesting questions that other students had submitted on Amazon’s Instagram page, followed by dinner.
Thank you, Amazon, for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
'Take Gorilla steps'
By Gokul VS
I’ve always enjoyed creating content on social media. When the #ADayAtAmazon competition was announced, I was excited to be a part of it because of my love for storytelling and the Amazon brand.
I was thrilled to be selected, but I didn’t fully understand the size of the opportunity or the magnitude of exposure that was in store for me. The realization hit me during our visit to the fulfilment centre in Bangalore, and I wanted to make the most of this opportunity. The sheer scale and operational efficiency of the FC amazed me. Next, we shadowed Akhil for the day with a coffee in tow.
We were amazed to see Amazon’s fun workplace and experienced first-hand the humility with which the leaders here lead. We attended key meetings like a review of Amazon Prime Day 2022 that happened this past July, enhancing the customer delivery experience, sustainability initiatives like the upcoming electric vehicle fleet, and technology being used in supply chain with some amazing Amazon leaders such as Arindam Ganguly, Dr. Karuna Shankar Pandey, Venkatesh Tiwari, Liju Thomas, and Abhinav Singh.
We also had a chance to interact with regional leaders such as Steve Walter and Mindy Espidio-Garcia to understand cross-cultural working and collaboration. These meetings were not just packed with insights and professional learnings, but also served up witty and candid reactions on our personal lives.
“If you’re going to do something, don’t take baby steps. Take gorilla steps and leave your mark where ever you go,’ Akhil told us. I also understood that while financial statements and strategy drive a company, it is the people who really make all the difference. My day at Amazon was an experience to learn more, think more, and grow more.