A Year at AWS

Today is my one year anniversary at AWS as a Senior Solutions Architect. I started exactly 1 year ago.

How time flies… this is re-post of a twitter thread (and in true Amazon fashion based on the Leadership principles)

I have never worked at a company like this. When people told me that Amazon was different, I knew that they were right, but I did not really grasp how much.

Over the course of the past year I have learned a lot of new things about myself, gained independence to take projects to a whole new level and grow personally and professionally.

Customer Obsession & Earn Trust

Amazon has a peculiar culture, we are different. Some companies say that have values and live by them, but that is not always the case. Amazonians live by them, all day, every day.

Every meeting, every decision, every discussion we have at work these principles to guide us. It takes some getting used to, but that is what makes us who we are.

When Amazon talks about Customer Obsession - we mean it. We go out of our way to understand our customers, I mean really get to know them, how they work, what their challenges are, what are their goals.

By doing this we achieve one of the most important things that we are looking for. Earning our customers trust. That is what differentiates Amazon from others.

Ownership & Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit

Amazon is in it for the long game, it is even one of the Leadership Principles. Ownership. We act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just your own team. We never say “that’s not my job.”

How does that manifest itself in the day to day? Well it means that people actively look for tasks and challenges outside their regular day work.

People don't shirk off responsibility, they own things and make sure that thinks are done. This does not mean that people take on too much, because we are expected to Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit (another LP) and not let yourself be overwhelmed. You are your own master.

This means that things get done. Someone takes a topic or a task, develops it, nurtures it, makes it happen, owns it from start to finish. This does not mean that they have to do all the work themselves, they will rally others around them.

People volunteer for stuff, actually volunteer to help you out, because this for the good of the company.

Learn and Be Curious

First let's talk about learning the job, each SA is given a period of about 3 months to sit and study. You are not expected to be valuable for your first three months in the job.

So much so that my wife thought I was actually working for the Mossad - because she could not get her head around the fact that I was not actually doing any work for the company for my first few months. All I was doing was learning and gaining knowledge.

Over my year here at AWS I have learned so much, and at the same time I have come to realize that I have so much more to learn.

When coming into AWS I thought I would learn how each and every service works, how the secret sauce is made, how things are wired together. And I came to the following realization.

It is pretty much impossible to exactly understand how each and every service is designed in its minute details - and of course it would not be something that I share with you all here on Twitter. And I don't have to know everything.

Working for a company of this size has its perks, for example - @Werner or @jeffbarr are only a Chime (yes we use Chime) message away. And would you believe it - they actually answer :) Like normal people!

I have access to people who are literally some of the smartest people on the planet, and they are a Chime message or email away. So if I need to ask a question - I will reach out to someone who can help and give me a hand.

Hire and Develop the Best & Insist on the Highest Standards

Hiring is everyone's job, mine as well. I am entrusted with making the company better, my opinion is completely equal to the other people in the room whether a candidate should be hired or not. With huge power comes great responsibility. It is empowering and I know I am making a difference.

Think Big

The problems we solve are some of the most complicated and the most difficult that we face today. The scale upon which we operate and work is enormous. And when we come up something we always look to how we can scale what we have done, using automation, and tools instead of manual work.

We have Mechanisms in every facet of the business for this purpose.

Bias for Action & Deliver Results

We get shit done. Because speed matters and delivering results matter.

Frugality

Amazonians have bling, we call it Phone Tool Icons.

I once asked why is it that people in Amazon are so fanatical about their icons, and the answer that I got made so much sense to me.

It has to do with Frugality. People could get plaques, raises, promotions, bonuses for their achievements. But instead we are happy with a 120x30 graphic icon, and they are proud of it, damn proud. And will sometimes go to extreme lengths to get a PTI.

And the whole company is on board with this idea. I love it.

During my year at Amazon I have accumulated 102 PTI's.

Dive Deep

During some of my days I get so immersed in a specific topic, I don't know where time flies. Actually getting into the technology, diving into the nuts and bolts enables me to deliver a complete solution with the best results. We don't bullshit our way around our customers.

It is perfectly OK to say, I don't know - this is something I hear regularly, because we can't all know everything. But if a customer asks you to find something out - or solve a problem for them then I go out of my way to find the answer - and for that I will invest the time in research.

I will invest the time in understand how things work, and if not I will find the people that will help get the customer the answer. Because we are Customer obsessed and Earn our customers trust.

My daughter asked me a while ago - do I enjoy my job? And my answer was… I am happy to go work every day, I work with amazing people, and I learn new things all the time. I am making a difference here locally in Israel, and as part of Amazon everywhere and anywhere in the world.

So hell yeah I love my job!!!

I know that I am just at the beginning and only year has passed. And if I look at what I have accomplished over the past year, the knowledge I have gained, the impact I have made on my customers and my peers - I cannot wait to see what the next year will bring.