James is a Senior Procurement Manager based in Dublin, Ireland. He joined AWS in November, 2019.
HereAtAWS: Tell us about your career journey. What brought you to your current role at AWS?
James: Prior to joining AWS I worked in a number of firms providing construction management services to high-tech clients where I got exposure to data center projects. From that experience, I knew I wanted to progress my career in the high-tech and the data center industry. When the opportunity presented itself to join AWS, it was a perfect fit for me. My experience of the hiring process at AWS was very positive. Prior to commencing the interview process, I felt a bit daunted by it, as it would be more in-depth than I had experienced previously. However, it gave me the opportunity to meet with many different people at AWS, including some that I would be working with directly. I gained a good understanding of my role and the company culture. Much more than you might gain in a couple of hours in a more traditional interview process.
HereAtAWS: Can you explain in simple terms: your role, who your customers are, and how you help them?
James: My role at AWS is to manage the procurement for a category of services across the EMEA region. This involves a number of key activities; such as sourcing and on boarding suppliers, bidding and awarding various scopes of work to suppliers. Building and developing the relationships with key suppliers is also an important part of my role. My customers are a number of different technical teams who design and deliver projects that add capacity to AWS data centers across the EMEA region. These capacity projects are typically executed in a live data center environment so there is a big focus on the safety, security and quality performance of our suppliers.
HereAtAWS: What technical and/or soft skills do you need to succeed in your role?
James: I have to deal with commercial and technical information in order to be able to procure services effectively. I need to be able to flex from talking about commercial issues such as cost, terms and conditions, contracts etc.
Balancing a good commercial acumen with having a deep enough understanding of technical concepts to be able to effectively support my customers, is the key to success in my role.
HereAtAWS: Have you had to learn any specific new skills (technical or soft) for your role?
James: AWS has a great ticketing system for your customers to request support. It was not something I had seen so widely used in other companies. It took me a while to get used to it. For example, my customer can use it to request me to procure services for them. I can use the same system to request the heating be adjusted in my office area. It makes it very easy to track any open issues and make sure they are closed to everyone’s satisfaction. I could not imagine working without such a system now as it makes life so much easier. AWS is also data-driven, so getting used to the various dashboards and reporting systems used within AWS was also very important for my role.
HereAtAWS: How does your work with customers help to make a positive impact on society?
James: I think that the services offered by AWS make a positive impact on society in many different ways. This was highlighted in an All Hands meeting I attended recently. A guest speaker from the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) gave a presentation outlining how AWS is working with the HSE to provide support during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It made me feel proud to think that the efforts of my colleagues, and in some way my own efforts, are enabling AWS to support the HSE.
HereAtAWS: What’s the most exciting part of your job?
James: Being part of a company that has so many different facets to its business and is not afraid to invent and try new things, even though they may not always work out as expected. I see the potential in time to try different roles within AWS and that is a very exciting prospect to me.
HereAtAWS: What advice would you give people joining AWS?
Don’t think of the hiring process as an interview process. See it as an opportunity for you to understand AWS as much as AWS is looking to understand who you are. Use the numerous meetings to really get a feel for the job and more importantly the people. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the people you will meet.
HereAtAWS: What three words would you use to describe workdays at AWS?
James: Exciting. Structured. Friendly.
HereAtAWS: Do you have any needs or commitment that require flexibility in your role?
James: I’m married with two daughters (Eight and four years old). Therefore, life at home is busy too. So far, I found that I have been able to strike a good work life balance in my role at AWS.
HereAtAWS: What do you love to do outside work?
James: I like to relax by building Lego sets. The engineering side of my brain enjoys it. I find it helps me to switch off by just focusing on the model I am building. My favourite Lego model is the 1989 Batmobile. My two daughters join in too so it is a fun activity for us to do together.
HereAtAWS: Is there anything else you would like to add about your personal journey?
James: I am just about to complete my first year of work in AWS. I am really enjoying my role so far. The people I work with have been the best part so far. They are all busy but friendly and helpful none the less. I am excited about what opportunities the future may bring for my family and me in AWS.