Chart Your Path: how to own your career at Amazon
Employees at Amazon have a unique opportunity to build their career path by owning their development, their career and their future. Having ideas and initiative will define the possibilities they explore, the opportunities they take advantage of and the impact they have.
As a customer-centric and innovation-focused business, we have always believed that supporting and celebrating development of our diverse workforce is key to our success. That’s why we were delighted to be recognised as Women in Tech’s Female Tech Employer of the Year 2019. Amazon also ranked first in the LinkedIn Top Companies in the UK list, recognising Amazon as the top company “where UK professionals want to work now”. And we have just been ranked number one in Glassdoor’s list of The UK’s Most In-Demand Companies, taking the top spot from Google.
We all know that setting and pursuing professional goals can be easier said than done – no matter how many years of experience you have under your belt. That’s why we ensure that help, advice and guidance are always on hand through mentoring, employee affinity groups and both formal and informal learning opportunities.
To find out more about how current and prospective employees can own their career development, Fiona McDonnell, Director, Consumer Retail, and Lauretta Desmedt Rudman, Brand Specialist Team Lead for Amazon Fresh & Prime Now, shared their insight and experience at Amazon’s latest Livestream event.
Getting started in your career
Wherever you work, your career is yours to manage, and we encourage that ownership at Amazon too.
At Amazon, employees are given the opportunity to explore different areas and aspects of the business to see what sectors suit them best. Lauretta recalls, “I didn’t know what I wanted to do in my career. The more I spoke to people the more I realised the opportunities I had.”
When looking at potential employers, Fiona says that cultural fit is the first thing she looked for. “Who you work with and how things are done can be as important as what you do in terms of your success.” Experience isn’t necessarily the key factor that sets people apart from their peers: “If you show you have the ability to learn, and the adaptability, then you may not necessarily need the exact experience for certain roles.”
Focus on your passions and be heard
It’s important to be proactive when seeking out new opportunities, and it helps to make your progress visible by celebrating your own success.
When starting out in a new role, it’s natural to spend time observing processes to gain an understanding of how the company works. While this is beneficial, over time it’s important to ensure your voice is heard. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions for change. This not only shows that you are engaged, but that you can benefit the business. “For example, Prime Now came from an idea an intern had! So positive change and innovation can come from people at all levels in the business,” says Lauretta.
There should always be relearning, retraining and upskilling in your role.
You should expect changes in your role throughout your career, so be open to it and ensure your passions and interests are known so they remain a part of your job.
Never stop learning
Whenever you start a new role, whether it be a promotion, changing of industry or switching companies, there can be a steep learning curve.
This may put you outside your comfort zone, but it will also unlock new opportunities in the future.
As Fiona explained, “being able to learn and change throughout your career is a vital skill, especially in the
tech and innovation industries.”
Talk to people and build your network
I always say ‘hi’ to people I don’t know in meetings or events outside my teams, so they know I’m approachable and here to help.
Building a support network and forming open relationships with your team will be key to progressing your career. Before taking up her current role, Lauretta asked the right questions: “I had informal conversations and spoke to my manager to learn how to develop my skills.”
Amazon also has affinity groups and many events which provide staff with the opportunity to network and socialise. Lauretta explains how, “being part of affinity groups has immediately given me a network”, and she has now been able to gain mentors across the business.
How does Amazon’s work culture encourage growth?
Fiona explains that working culture is vital for Amazon: “As a big company made up of small teams, our working culture helps us to stay nimble and customer-focused without losing the focus on execution. We want to let everyone grow and unlock doors to new opportunities that may not be possible in other companies.”
Amazon doesn’t hire just for a role; they hire for Amazon,
This is reflected in Amazon’s workspaces, where space and culture are linked to create a flexible environment that promotes learning through real-time collaboration and on-the-job learning. Group pods, flex rooms and communal spaces all play a part in encouraging growth.
Amazon also recognises and celebrates the success of staff. “We celebrate the small wins and say thank you,” says Lauretta. This ethic is consistent across the company globally.
Overall, Fiona feels that flexibility, the appetite to learn and the curiosity to drive your own development are vital aspects of a career with Amazon: “If you’re willing to learn, Amazon will give you the opportunity and you can grow and develop both professionally and personally. It really is your path.”
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