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The Other Side of the Crucible - Peak 2020

Updated: Dec 28, 2020

Every year at this time for several weeks Amazon employees go into what we call in the military as turret defilade and prepare for the most challenging period of the year. Peak 2020 was even more so for reasons known by everyone. From record customer orders, to social distancing and to my third experience in as many Peaks the last few months have truly been a test of business and leadership acumen.

Not much to do with this article but to reintroduce myself to writing and continue to document my experience in the hope of shedding light on Amazon as a potential option for transitioning servicemen and aspiring operations managers. This company offers a very comprehensive test of a manager’s knowledge, decision making ability and Associate leadership in a business environment. The time that you have spent in the military or other customer facing companies will be enhanced by the day to day responsibilities of probably the most customer-centric company in the world.

You have made harder decisions and have surely exposed yourself to the pressures of leadership, but the volume of responsibilities and choices you have to make daily as a manager at Amazon would rival just about any previous job save your involvement in combat operations where lives where at risk. When I say crucible that is exactly what I mean…Peak and operations management in general are severe tests of your ability to motivate, direct and manage at the highest level of tech leadership. It is a physical and mental beatdown that brings teams together much like basic training and deployment experiences. You will find yourself picking up the slack of a peer, helping an Associate and escalating requirements to General or Regional Management in the same hour much like the three-block war example that we teach our young officers in command courses. And

moreover you will love it in a very similar way that people love basic training, exhausting field exercises and deployments - in that love-hate “I am glad this crap is done, but it was fun too sort of way.”

The fact that I am done with my third Peak does not make me look forward to my fourth, it has just better prepared me for my next challenge in the company. No lives were lost and I have once again exposed myself to something difficult, a self-installed obstacle if you will. To know that my service affords me the opportunity to do something else, but I chose to work at this company may or may not tell you something. It could be that I am a glutton for punishment and the easy nine to five just isn’t for me. I could be that I love adrenaline and this is just another form of hype that keeps me going. To be honest I don’t know…the work is challenging, feels relevant and has given me a chance to do what I thought I have always done best --- operate.

Peak 2020…! In the books…!!!


Lee Flemming, is a retired Army Colonel currently working in Dallas 3 (DAL3) Fulfillment Center in Dallas, Texas as a Military Pathways Senior Operations Manager. 28-year Army Veteran with extensive operations and management experience. The Boots to Amazon series includes regular installments meant to inform and educate Service Members and the public about transitioning into employment at Amazon.

1 Comment

This a great article and the last paragraph about you is so true.

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