- Hamza Chaudhry, 24, is an inventory-control and quality-assurance area manager at Amazon in London.
- He started at the company in September 2020 and said the job was better than he thought it would be.
- Here’s what onboarding was like and what his job is like now, as told to freelancer Amber Sunner.
This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Hamza Chaudhry, a 24-year-old inventory-control and quality-assurance area manager at Amazon in London, about starting his job during the pandemic. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I started at Amazon in September 2020. I was promoted this September from area manager I to area manager II, and I’m now set to launch one of Amazon’s biggest warehouses in Europe.
Before I started at Amazon, I studied for a master’s in mechanical engineering, completed a mergers-and-acquisitions internship in London, and worked as a performance engineer at Rolls-Royce for a year.
I work on high-level automation in the operations part of the company and oversee compliance and inventory. My role requires me to manage about 100 people, including a data analyst, an escalation specialist who’s accountable for resolving customers’ complaints, and two team leaders. There’s no typical day-to-day because that’s just the nature of work.
I wake up at 6 a.m., and I’m at work 2 hours later. My workday finishes at 5:30 p.m.
If I can squeeze in a run in the morning, then I do, but I usually get ready and read the news before my hourlong commute. I try to listen to podcasts while I’m traveling to work.
On Mondays, we have a weekly business-review meeting, where we review metrics and find opportunities where growth can be concentrated to help the company.
That’s the key mechanism that we adopt at Amazon because it’s a chain – development is integral to the whole company. I focus on driving actions for priorities, as well as network and local projects.
The onboarding at Amazon is all about understanding
The company ensures you understand the processes. In my role as an area manager of an operations warehouse, I got a low-level rundown of how the robotics worked. I also received an onboarding buddy who helped with the process of learning the ropes.
Amazon has different levels assigned to workers – it often starts at level 4 in higher-ranking jobs and ends at the highest level, level 12, the CEO. As someone who’s at level 5, for me, this creates the incentive to achieve more to progress up this ladder.
I started at the company during the pandemic, meaning that new hires couldn’t attend the summit Amazon hosts each year called AD1 – Amazon Day 1
This year, it was supposed to be in Luxembourg, but as many things were unsafe because of COVID-19, including traveling, we held a virtual alternative. Here, the new hires across the business – from supply chain up to corporate – get together to receive insights into the company and an introduction to each other.
Speakers come in, along with directors and general managers, and we engage in group activities over the weeklong summit. It was a great experience to network with people at different seniority levels in the company. The people I met over a computer screen were very established, which was amazing to see from the onboarding experience alone.
One thing that particularly stood out to me was the diversity of people. For example, one of the members in my group was a former strategy consultant and professional basketball player.
The job I got was a lot better than the initial job description I found
For example, Amazon is a company where if you can demonstrate potential and drive, this will be leveraged into opportunities. I would not have thought in my first year of working at the company I’d lead two international projects with the potential to save millions.
I’ve gained a lot of experience on the job, but that’s the one thing I would definitely change: the job listing so that it would marry up with the actual job. Amazon is a huge company, so having a bit more comfort when entering the role would’ve been helpful for my preconceived notions.
I’m grateful for all the things I’ve accomplished so far
My first was optimizing the configuration of robotics hardware to drive cost benefits for the company. The second project I had the honor of working on was defining key-performance-indicator standards across the EU and creating a dashboard where the standards would be embedded. This also means that I’m one of the UK owners of this metric.
My final project is one I’m working on – a building launch. I recently moved back to London to work on launching one of our largest warehouses in the EU. It’s been an exciting experience so far because it requires balancing strategy and execution, while combining the detailed understanding that’s vital for such a wide-scale project.
One major thing I’ve learned in my short time at Amazon is that your team defines your success
You need to ensure that your team is in a good state and that any concerns are addressed to ensure the best output.
In the early stages of the warehouse launch, I conducted a brief with the team. I mentioned the purpose and vision for launching our department, including the expectation from the team. The following day, a few of my colleagues came to me and said, “After your talk, we feel like a team.”
The advice I’d give to people joining Amazon is to acquire a good foundation of the role you’re entering because that’s the bread and butter of the business
Coming from an engineering background was useful, as it enabled me to take a structured approach. Much of the learning is on the job, so I’d recommend using the first few weeks when it’s quieter to develop an insight of the role by speaking with people and reading as much as possible.