June 8, 2014 9:21 pm

Amazon sets its sights on MBA students

An employee pushes a cart as he processes customer orders ahead of shipping at one of Amazon.com Inc.'s fulfillment centers in Rugeley, U.K., on Monday, Dec. 2, 2013. Online retailers in the U.K. are anticipating their busiest day as shoppers flush with end-of-month pay-checks seek Christmas deals on the Web. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg©Bloomberg

An employee processes orders at an Amazon fulfilment centre in the UK

Amazon, the US-based e-commerce group, is planning to hire hundreds of MBAs in 2015. Miriam Park, director of university programmes at Amazon explains what is on offer and why the company is looking for MBAs.

What programmes do you have for MBA students who come to you:

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A) For a full time job?

MBAs are an important leadership pipeline at Amazon and we have many MBA opportunities including:

● Consumer Leadership Development Programme (CLD): CLD is a three-year leadership development programme with the goal of providing MBAs with a path to leadership roles at Amazon. In this programme, MBAs rotate through two different roles from a choice of areas such as vendor management, in-stock management, marketing management, merchant management and/or retail product management. This allows participants to complete CLD and have an understanding of the key roles within retail and become effective managers. This role is available across our offices in US, Europe, China and Japan.

● Pathways operations managers: Pathways is a three-year, field-based programme with progressively challenging assignments in our fulfilment centres (warehousing and shipping centres for merchant goods) and customer service sites. Pathways hires start as frontline leaders and subsequently become operations managers, where they then lead other frontline leaders. This programme develops senior leadership talent for fulfilment centre and customer service operations. Roles are available across our offices in the US, Europe, China, Japan and India.

● Senior financial analyst (SFA): SFA is a three-year leadership development programme with participants joining Amazon as senior financial analysts (SFAs). They are given significant responsibility from the start to drive business and financial decisions. SFAs are expected to evaluate and quantify new business ideas and perform data-intensive analyses, to improve the way we serve our customers. This role is available in our offices in US, Europe, China and Japan.

● Senior product manager: Senior product managers work cross-functionally, often with technology teams, to drive ideas from conception to execution, develop business models and marketing plans, define and analyse success metrics, manage strategic projects and own the product end-to-end. Senior product managers are well positioned for future roles as general managers responsible for running large business segments. Examples of organisations where senior product managers may work include: Appstore & Games, Marketplace, Global Payments, and Amazon Web Services (AWS). This role is available primarily in the US with some opportunities in Europe as well.

B) For an internship?

We offer 8-12 week summer internships across the globe in consumer, finance, HR, technology businesses and operations. Incoming MBA interns are given many opportunities and the autonomy to make decisions. To accelerate intern development and build upon their existing skills, they participate in a real life high-impact project designed to allow them to experience working life at Amazon whilst focusing on owning and delivering key business objectives.

What sort of training do you provide?

From day one, MBAs are given ownership of large, complex problems in various areas and the autonomy to think strategically and make decisions that have a significant impact on our customers and our business. To accelerate MBA development and build upon their existing skills, they participate in a chosen programme which is designed to develop participants into future leaders of Amazon. For example, the Consumer Leadership Development programme spans at least two functional areas within our retail and marketplace seller businesses, over a three-year period.

In operations in Europe, we hire MBA interns across our European fulfilment centre network in the summer of the first year of their MBA course. MBA interns are given business projects to work on while at our fulfilment centre’s across Europe. Projects are usually related to the improvement of a process or processes within a fulfilment centre. Interns have the opportunity to present their work to the EU operations senior management team at the end of their internship, with strong interns then being offered a permanent role in the business on the Pathways programme after they graduate the following year. New hires are given a comprehensive induction to the business via specific events at their local fulfilment centre to integrate them into the business and operations. MBAs are also assigned a mentor to work with and work closely with the learning and development team to help them reach their goals.

All programme participants benefit from a training curriculum, cohort-based learning environments, mentorship, exposure to senior leadership and career coaching.

Are you expanding the number of MBAs you take on and if so, why? Can you say how many MBAs you are looking for globally this year?

Amazon’s MBA recruiting channel intake has been steadily increasing through growing internal leadership pipeline demand and proactive campus recruitment campaigns at some of the world’s leading business schools. We expect to hire hundreds of MBAs globally in 2015.

What business schools do you work with?

We work with a high number of world class business schools in Europe and beyond. The schools are selected using a combination of factors including an evaluation of whether their programme fits with Amazon’s culture and past success. European schools we work with include London Business School, Insead, Iese, Esade, IMD and Oxford Saïd.

Do you often take on MBAs from outside the business schools you work with?

We consider candidates across a variety of programmes globally and as we continue to grow, we do look beyond the top ranked programmes.

Why do you value MBAs?

The Amazon recruitment process is designed to ensure we hire top candidates with high-growth potential whatever their background may be. As part of this we recruit current MBA students and MBA alumni for permanent and internship opportunities worldwide and see MBAs as an important part of our leadership development. We value people who can balance long-term strategic thinking with tactical execution, and who have the ability to make data-driven decisions. We value MBAs for, in many cases, the global approach that they can bring to the business with many candidates having worked and studied in more than one country. Their range of experience and variety of backgrounds is invaluable in bringing a different way of looking at our business. We also value the analytical skills that they develop through their MBA. In fact, many of our senior leaders started at Amazon after completing MBAs.

What are you looking for in a candidate and what do they need to have done to impress you?

We are looking for MBAs who want to innovate on behalf of our customers and own projects from start to finish. If MBAs are passionate about innovation and display a strong sense of ownership and customer obsession combined with a bias for action and robust analytical thinking, Amazon offers multiple opportunities to build a career. Demonstrating results as well as solid credentials will help applicants stand out.

Are business schools doing enough to turn out the sort of candidates you are after? What more would you like to see business schools doing?

We look to business schools for applicants who they believe have both the long-term potential to develop as well as those who are capable of making an immediate impact. In Amazon’s case this means having the ability on day one to drive key business decisions, but can also mean MBAs rolling up their sleeves to do some tactical tasks they might not have expected post-MBA, but which we believe are important to their learning experience and to understanding better our business and our customers. Schools with which we work closely help us to identify candidates that match this type of profile.

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