The Summers of 2019: Program Management at Amazon

The Summers of 2019 is a series about the various categories of roles offered by companies for summer internships. We bring to you the experiences of interns from Consulting, Finance, Marketing, General Management, Product Management, Operations and E-commerce roles to understand a bit more about their work life. The articles are meant to give the reader a glimpse into the life of an intern, and maybe help the reader understand their own fit in that particular role. 

Contributed by: Arti Kumari

The world’s leading e-commerce firm needs no introduction and interning at Amazon was an outstanding experience. It is a firm obsessed with its leadership principles that differentiate it from any other company in this domain. These principles are not just there to be hanged on walls but are instilled in each Amazon-ian, be it an employee or an intern. Everyone is expected to inherit them as a part of their culture as this is Amazon way of doing things.

A summer internship with Amazon as a Program Manager was an ecstatic ride. The 8-week internship program was thoroughly planned and structured for each of the 130+ interns hired from top management institution. Induction program ran for about three days which gave interns the opportunity to interact with Amazon leaders across all verticals. Few of us were selected to go for Amazon’s program called Associate Experience week where we got an opportunity to visit a fulfillment center, a sorting center and a delivery station to work alongside the associates (workers in the centers). We learned how a giant e-commerce firm which sells almost everything on the earth, manages its end-to-end operations so efficiently fulfilling its promise to every customer.

My project involved designing an efficient long-run weekly demand-forecasting tool for Amazon India. This would help optimize the inbound supply of each product line from sellers, improving inventory management and utilizing the space at the warehouses more effectively. The scope of this project was huge and so were the complexities as it covers every product line that Amazon sells and all the fulfillment centers across India, but the challenge was worth taking. I had to work in coordination with the global demand forecasting team and get the tool ready within the defined deadline. The task seemed taxing at times but my manager and mentor were there to the rescue. Their exceptional support and mentorship pushed me to achieve my target fluently. My project expected me to have a thorough understanding of e-commerce operations especially during peak sales and included planning for Suppliers Network, Categorizing Products into Product Lines, Sizing of Fulfillment Centers and associated Financial planning. I was free to experiment with my approaches and provide creative and efficient solutions keeping the deadlines in mind. I was given a set of leadership principles like Thing Big, Deep Dive, Invent & Simplify and Deliver Results, along with my project which should reflect in my work at the end. The performance was evaluated based on these principles. There were timely one on one discussions with my manager to review my progress vis-a-vis the pre-decided milestones.

Amazon has a flat organization structure and everyone is free to approach anyone for support. But at the same time, everyone is mostly occupied in meetings, attending calls or discussing the on-going and in-coming assignments. It was sometime challenging to chase them for their time in order to get the required information. The global team I was working with, was restricted within its own timeline and hardly had the bandwidth to provide support. But this pushed me to be self-reliant and get my thing done with least dependability. A few days before my end-review, I got hold of the global team by stretching my work hours and got my outputs validated.

Amazon review meetings are unusual. It doesn’t believe in PPTs, but a six-page document which includes the detail of the project, our approach, related numbers/facts and was enough to validate the outcome of our task. The organization values quality work, commitment, and a customer-centric thought process. Amazon provided me various opportunities to interact with multiple stakeholders from diverse departments and allowed me to learn critical leadership principles and its application in reality which is my major takeaway from the internship experience and would surely help me in my future endeavors.

Arti is a student of the PGP 2018-20 batch at IIM Bangalore.

Media Cell IIMB is the student run outreach and communication committee of IIM Bangalore dedicated to form the bridge within the student community and the outside world.

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