This Amazon employee had a startling realisation when he spent six months trying to recruit new people

James ThomsonJames ThomsonFormer Amazon exec James Thomson

James Thomson worked at Amazon for more than five years in multiple seller-services related roles. The entire time, he was blown away by his fellow coworkers.

With a background in consulting and investment banking, he figured he’d already worked among some of the smartest people he would ever meet, but joining the e-commerce giant proved him wrong.

“Lots of people had Type A personalities, were cutthroat, and all that kind of stuff, but in terms of just raw intellectual power, that was absolutely exhilarating,” he told Business Insider. “The calibre of people I was working with was truly impressive.”

Thomson says that Amazon’s dedication to careful hiring hit him hardest when he was managing recruiting for the company’s US sales organisation for about six months in 2012.

“It was at that point that I realised just how important it was to bring in the right type of talent,” he says. “The six months I spent doing recruiting on the side, I realised that you have to start with amazing ingredients to make an amazing cake. At Amazon, a lot of positions remained open even when there was an absolutely desperate need to fill it. There was a rigid discipline in terms of validating every single candidate that I hadn’t seen before.”

Thomson says he feels privleged to have had the chance to work at Amazon, even though it certainly wasn’t “cupcakes and tea” every day.

“From the perspective of working with really smart people who knew how to ask the right questions, get the right data, and get to the root causes of problems, I never worked at an organisation that did that as well,” he says.

Thomson left in 2013 to find ways to share what he learned at Amazon with the third-party sellers that he had been working with from within the company for so long. He opened a consulting business and is the President of the Professional retailers online and solution providers (PROSPER) Association.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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