Everyone who transitions out of the military does so with trepidation and anxiety - especially if like me, they have spent 20 or more years in uniform. However, most of that anxiety and angst was unnecessary for me as I have transitioned to Amazon – and like many other companies, have found common ground and similarities to the military! I know you are thinking, not possible, so let me explain. Full disclosure, my business line at Amazon is Global Specialty Fulfillment and I only have second hand information and limited knowledge about sortation sites.
There are countless similarities that I could comment on to include: the Amazon leadership principles, the spirit of volunteerism and community or the support team structure that truly aligns with a military unit’s staff. For the purpose of this blog I will comment on two novel similarities that you may have never guessed, but will absolutely appreciate as a former Service Member. One of the parallels is the so-called Amazon ‘uniform’ and the other is an organizational structure that in a lot of ways mirrors the military command and control structure.
At Amazon, we wear uniform of sort - much like in the military. However, at Amazon, a good portion of the ‘uniform’ items are free and are called, swag. After I received my offer call from my Amazon recruiter, the first question I asked was, “When do I get my swag?” The recruiter informed me that each site has their own swag budget and I would receive my allocation once I selected my site. During my transition, I attended at least 10 Amazon webinars and everyone on the panel wore the coolest swag and I wanted in on that. The ‘uniform’ item that I wear faithfully is my Operations Manager vest. The back of my vest says, “Leadership, How Can I help?” Very similar to the anchors I wore as a Navy Chief that signified I am here to help regardless of your branch of service or rank, the Chief is always here to help and answer any questions. The other parts of my uniform include: Amazon t-shirt, sweatshirt, jacket, beanie or even cool Peccy socks. I take great pride in wearing my Amazon uniform everyday I’m at work and even in my off time. I also do my best to give away as much swag as possible to my Associates, and I love coming into my site and seeing everyone in their Amazon uniforms!
Another similarity between Amazon and the military is the rank structure. Anyone who has been in the military longer than a week understands that an E7 outranks an E1 and that E7 has earned the respect that comes along with their rank regardless of any personal feelings toward that individual. Now I am a manager specializing in Operations at Amazon, and I work closely with Associates that understand what that means and they generally act accordingly. I come in with an open mind and a humble attitude despite leading the organization, and that same spirit of support is there from my team and Associates. Many of the people who have been at Amazon for years and know more than I do about the business have happily taught me what they know – lending credence to having a solidified organizational structure and its importance in providing stability and design for problem solving.
My tenure at Amazon to date is nearing six months and I am confident I will have a long career at Amazon. Amazon has so many resources to catapult one to success and the company offers so many benefits that I understand why people stay here for many years. I have zero regrets about my decision to join the company, which is one of the reasons that I passively recruit for Amazon on a daily basis!