FROM THE ARMY TO AMAZON
What did you do in the military? What was your last role?
I was an infantry officer for 12 years in The Mercian Regiment.
Why did you apply for a role with Amazon?
I didn’t want to sit behind a desk in a suit. I saw Amazon as a place where I could use and develop my leadership skills in a challenging environment but without any pretence. When I left the military I wanted to invest my energy in something that inspired me and I found that in Amazon.
What’s your role at Amazon?
I’m an Inbound Operations Manager in EMA1, at a new Amazon Robotics site near Nottingham. My job is to plan and execute a shift of up to 300 people who bring inventory into the warehouse. Essentially, I have to run the shift according to the strategic context of the network operation; translating the network’s plan into our shift level actions.
How did you find the recruitment process? Any advice for candidates?
The process is fairly straightforward, but you might need to think about your military experiences slightly differently than you have before. At Amazon we are very data driven so be prepared to back up your examples with quantifiable data, where relevant, to demonstrate the impact you had.
You must also focus on what you personally achieved; often in the military we talk about what ‘we’ did because of the team culture, I’m glad to say that the same is true in Amazon, but when you are interviewing use ‘I’ and take credit for what you actually did.
What have you learnt in your time at Amazon?
The power of diversity. Our workforce is an incredible mix of people from very diverse backgrounds and you can really see the benefit when problem solving; our thought processes are very divergent and so we can come up with some quite fairly radical solutions to address problems.
What has been the biggest difference between the Military and Amazon?
As an infantry officer, I had 16 months of training before I was even allowed near a soldier. In Amazon I was running a shift within a few weeks of joining. Our training mantra is ‘learn by doing’ and we realize that the fastest way to learn a job is by doing the job.
It takes a while to get used to feeling slightly out of your depth, but you quickly notice that there is a whole support network around you that will give you some freedom, but won’t let you fail.
What was your onboarding experience like?
Great fun, actually. Operational Leader Orientation in Barcelona was particularly good! But the technical training was also really interesting. I particularly enjoyed learning about the Robotics systems and how we can make the most efficient use of them.
How did the Officers’ Association support you in your journey?
The Officer’s Association helped me translate my experiences into a CV, but more crucially, I had a meeting with an OA Career Consultant who talked me through my own ‘life estimate’ to work out what I wanted to do once I left the army.
My initial instinct was to find a project management job, but it was my OA careers expert who helped me realise that what I really wanted was a role in operations management. I can’t thank her enough for giving me that gentle nudge in the right direction!
If you, like Josh, would like some advice to help direct your career after leaving the military, be sure to book your free, confidential careers consultation…