amazon.com: work experience #1
i was contacted by the sales and operations planning (s&op) team at amazon.com at the beginning of 2002. after speaking with them by phone, i decided that it sounded interesting, but not my main interest. then, the pick 2-pizza team spoke with me about being a software engineer on their team. it sounded interesting, but i didn't want to develop software anymore -- at least not full-time. i though for sure that amazon.com would say "forget that guy" by now, but they didn't. i was invited to interview with the folks at the fulfillment center. i met with the gm and several of the folks there. i was stoked. operations is really where my interest was and this felt like a great fit.
my interviews were interesting and pretty easy. i don't remember them completely, though. they were quantitative, though, and also behavioral. i was given a case study by an interviewer -- a real estate case, where i was asked to compute a regression by hand and explain what the r^2 meant in the solution. besides that, the questions were behavioral and based on the amazon.com core values:
* Customer Obsession: We start with the customer and work backwards.
* Innovation: If you don't listen to your customers you will fail. But if you only listen to your customers you will also fail.
* Bias for Action: We live in a time of unheralded revolution and insurmountable opportunity--provided we make every minute count.
* Ownership: Ownership matters when you're building a great company. Owners think long-term, plead passionately for their projects and ideas, and are empowered to respectfully challenge decisions.
* High Hiring Bar: When making a hiring decision we ask ourselves: "Will I admire this person? Will I learn from this person? Is this person a superstar?"
* Frugality: We spend money on things that really matter and believe that frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention! at amazon, as i came to later understand, they really, really, believe and live the core values. it's really cool. since i've left amazon, i find myself drawing upon my experience there and my own value system now includes the amazon core values. this was and remains a really impressive part of amazon.com to me.
no lunch. interviews were over two days. i met some really cool people; serious movers and shakers at amazon.com.
several weeks later. . .
i received an offer. i was stoked. the salary was decent. restricted stock units (rsu) were generous. and, there was a signing bonus. remember, that amazon.com really emphasizes the core values in everything -- so, the rsu is the manifestation of ownership. their compensation & bonus plan is skewed to the ownership side. i accepted.
work in the fulfillment center is all about velocity and quality. from click-to-ship, velocity of product is key so that the customer receives his or her order in the shortest amount of time possible while maintaining high quality. there is a lot of inventory at the fulfillment centers. while at amazon, i was able to visit 4 fulfillment centers and the seattle headquarters. the operations group all report up to jeff wilke, who earned his ms and mba from the mit leaders for manufacturing program (mit-lfm). he's a big proponent of lean, six sigma, and also operations research methods, including simulation, queueing theory, and others. he hires really sharp phd-type people and engineers, software engineers, and others to run operations.
i left amazon.com for a smaller company. turnover is pretty high at amazon.com because headhunters constantly seek the amazon background and a lot of companies are interested in an amazon.com pedigree. i had a great experience there.
male, 2002 - 2005