Diary of Retail Technologist – My Week# 1 @ Amazon – Connecting The Dots …

Reproduced From – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/diary-retail-technologist-my-week-1-amazon-connecting-arun/

I used to write diaries when I was a kid, I used to blog when I graduated, then I got busy with work+family in last few years and let my writing stop. Last year I started writing but then my enthusiasm died after few posts.

Now, last week I had a major change in my career (as most of you may know), I started as a software development manager at Amazon Web Services, and that change has re-triggered lots of thoughts and reflections in my mind which I felt is worthy of posts here. Not sure if I will be able to keep up with these diary entries in future weeks (I do expect my life at Amazon is going to be busy), but I will attempt to share my thoughts on a regular basis (if possible weekly, or at least every once in a while as I get chance .. feel free to nudge me and DM me if I am not keeping up to this promise).

Before I begin – a quick plug for my new Amazon Data Platform Team that I started with this week – firstly, thanks for giving me the warm welcome I got this week .. secondly we are hiring aggressively for many positions in Seattle WA, Arlington VA and Bangalore, India, so if you are interested to join my team (or know anyone who will be) do review the positions of Sr. Technical Program Manager / Sr. Software Development Engineer / Data Engineer . Apart from my team, there are thousands of other positions open on Amazon’s job portal https://amazon.jobs/en/ , so do explore those if my team’s positions do not seem suitable for you. Lastly, feel free to send your resume to me and/or reach out to me via DM if needed.

Now, back to the real topic of the post that I wanted to discuss which is to discuss overall how my first week at Amazon went.

There is a saying and overall understanding in Amazon that initial few weeks is going to be “drinking from the firehose” as there is plethora and plethora of information and onboarding resources available at all various levels, so this week for me was to fasten my seatbelt and start diving to get an overall sense of the lay of the land at various levels and I took a top down approach there trying to find answers to various questions –

QUESTION 1 – How is Amazon Organized from the very top? – Jeff Bezos, Andy Jassy and then what? How are other business units organized for the various products we all love as amazon die hard consumers (eg- amazon.com, AWS, Amazon Prime, Amazon Echo, Amazon Alexa and so forth). I didn’t have time to go too much into depth of this part (yet), but I did get a good sense on how and where things are and which is something I would keep exploring in coming weeks and months!!

QUESTION 2 – Where are my Amazonian Friends? – I have a good network of friends from my previous organizations and college sprinkled over many different business units on Amazon (some of them I haven’t talked in years) – so first order was to reach out to them and also understand where are they in the giant Amazon machine, that exercise itself helped me answer many things on #1. All of them were extremely courteous and reached back with plenty of welcome messages and tips from their perspective (thanks to all of you and I might keep bugging you in future weeks and months).

QUESTION 3 – Where does my new team “AWS Data Platform” fit on AWS stack? – This is an extension of #1 but zooming on to my specific team and where do we fit on overall AWS stack. Although I did get a high level understanding during interviews but it was this week where I got much more depth as I started going through multi year plans and interactions with my managers, colleagues and got included in day to day meetings. To explain more of my team, let me just copy paste this verbatim from linkedin profile of one of my leaders as I felt below description explained best on what my team does at AWS –

AWS Data Platform group, helps AWS to be a data-driven business. Our charter is to enable a single source of truth for datasets that are used AWS wide for service usage and business analysis. My group is comprised of AWS Data Warehouse, Data Lake and Data Tools teams, located across the globe. We serve the needs of 1000s of Business Analysts, Data Scientists, Executive reports, Customer facing products, etc. within AWS and other Amazon units, under strict SLAs. We help store and analyze data across more than one service to support a multitude of consumer personas, data availability SLAs, query patterns (SQL vs Search vs OLAP vs lookups), scalability and latency requirements.

We also align our product roadmap with other AWS flagship services like S3, EC2, Redshift, Glue, Lake Formation, etc. Please note that some of the external services like Glue and Lake Formation were initially proposed/built internally by our team.

QUESTION 4 – Am I Connecting the Dots? .. Wow !! – As I was going through #3, it reminded me of Steve Job’s “connecting the dots” speech.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

It seems a strange coincidence as I connect the dots that all the career choices that I have made in past years (and some of them have been somewhat extreme) has prepared me for this new role, whether its the career choice to switch from application programming to system admin areas back at ebay enterprise in 2010, or to lead the data integration team at Belk around 6 years back, or deciding to have an entrepreneurial mindset at Belk to lead the cloud implementation (which is one of the key leadership principles at Belk) and finally opting to lead Belk’s data platform team last year which surprised many of my colleagues, all of those decisions did felt right on those moments but was hard to explain to my peers and as Steve mentioned above, it wasn’t clear back then how and where those decisions are going to help me in future but now I can connect the dots looking backward.

QUESTION 5 – Who are my new colleagues, understanding overall Amazon culture and Leadership Principles etc? – Continuing with my onboarding store debrief, this was the part where I spent majority of my time this week and had many 1:1’s with many of my new colleagues, tyring to understand depth of the project I have at hand as well to understand overall Amazon culture and one thing that came up again and again and again is “Amazon’s Leadership Principles”. We all get to know about those principles during our interview process but it gets much more deeper and clearer after joining Amazon, on how they are embedded on day to day working at Amazon. Amazon’s Leadership Principles is a big topic, so I will save it for a post as it itself needs a dedicated post and my take on various principles, so I will pause here.

Overall had a blast last week and I am really looking forward to upcoming weeks and will try to keep this thread posted !!

To end this post, I will perhaps take the same style of ending on a musical note like I was doing in last year posts …. I do not get chance to spend lot of time here but late last year I started dabbling with a new instrument/device Akai MPK Mini Midi Controller and I tried and have been trying to create few beats and mini musical snippets, here is one where I tried out Gorillaz Clint Eastwood :-

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