Meet Lara, Sales Account Representative Intern

Lara joined AWS in June 2020 as a Sales Account Representative Intern based in Zurich, Switzerland.

HereAtAWS: Tell us about your career journey. What brought you to your current role at AWS?

Lara: I joined AWS through the summer internship program in the sales team in London. I actually live and study in Switzerland but I was curious to experience working in a different country, which is what led me to apply to the role in the UK. When it was announced that the internships this year will be fully virtual due to COVID19, I was disappointed at first but as I still work for the London team, and I still got to meet many new people from the UK even from my home office in Switzerland!

Before joining AWS, and as soon as the internship program is over, I will continue studying “Design Management International” which teaches me a customer-centric approach towards business and management matters. This is why the customer-obsessed culture at AWS was the perfect fit for me (and also one of the reasons why I applied for the role in the first place!)

HereAtAWS: Can you explain in simple terms: your role, who your customers are, and how you help them?

Lara: In my role, I closely work together with the UK Territory Managers from the sales team and actively support them in their projects and initiatives. Every intern in the team is assigned one internship project on which we work throughout the entire 12 weeks. In my project, I develop digital transformation roadmaps for different businesses in the SMB (small-medium-businesses) segment. I work out entire strategies of how they can move to the cloud, starting with the strategic priorities of their business. In that case, my customers are SMB businesses in the UK. Yet, the resources that I am developing also include general overviews into businesses from different industries, and together with the digital transformation roadmap, it helps the Territory Managers frame customer conversations. That is why my other customers in this project are the Territory Managers themselves. To conclude, I help our customers by working backwards from their business needs and propose strategies of moving to the cloud, and I help the Territory Managers gain a better overview and knowledge of the businesses and the sectors they are present in.

HereAtAWS: What technical and/or soft skills do you need to succeed in your role?

Lara: Quite frankly, there are no technical skills required in my role. All cloud knowledge is gained while working. Yet, in my role, such as in any role at Amazon, it is of key importance to have a customer-centred mind-set. If I did not have empathy for our customers, and if I did not understand their needs, I would not be successful in my role. I am convinced that anything else can be learned but being customer-obsessed is definitely necessary for the job.

HereAtAWS: Have you had to learn any specific new skills (technical or soft) for your role? 

Lara: Yes, I gained various new skills throughout the internship! To find out how AWS and our services can best fit the customers’ needs, I had to learn a lot about cloud services. As I did not have any technical background, I basically had to start from zero. But AWS supported me vastly with resources, learning paths, courses, etc., so that I would learn all about cloud quickly! I passed the Cloud Practitioner Certification after only two weeks of the internship, and I am now about to schedule the Solutions Architect Associate Exam. Besides cloud computing, I learned a lot about sales, how forecasting works and how to guide customer conversations.

HereAtAWS: How does your work with customers help to make a positive impact on society?

Lara: My project definitely helps smaller business grow and scale. We provide them with concrete, actionable suggestions of how they can move their business to the cloud or how they can make use of AWS technologies such as Artificial Intelligence to leverage business insights. All of this drives forward their growth.

HereAtAWS: At work, are you involved in any activities outside of your role?

Lara: Yes! I am part of the Women@Amazon affinity group which is a community for both business and technical employees interested in increasing gender diversity at Amazon. Besides that, I often take part in other company-wide activities such as the Alexa Hackathon, where I developed my own Alexa skill together with my teammates, or the PRFAQ competition, where I submitted my doc for a chance to win.

HereAtAWS: What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Lara: There are two things I am most excited about at work: Exploring customer needs and being part of a dynamic, diverse and welcoming team. I am excited at work when I can dive deep into a customer problem, figure out what it is, and even develop a solution to it that satisfies the need! For instance, this has been the case when I realised how fascinated the territory managers were by our project, and how much they would use it in their day-to-day activities which got me really excited!

Also, I am very excited about being in a team that encourages an appreciative and constructive environment, where I can fail and learn without judgement, where we lift each other up, recognise talent, receive coaching and where I see that people truly care about supporting me. I love being in a team where we all share one common vision, towards which we work together, and upon which we are assessed.

HereAtAWS: What advice would you give people joining AWS?

Lara: I would advise them to get to know as many people as they can. I met around 45 new people in only nine weeks and enjoyed every conversation I had with them! Meeting new people helps you to understand AWS, the different teams, roles, and of course, it is just nice to widen your network. Having these talks often inspired me to check out new teams or projects which I find very valuable given that I am still young and at the beginning of my career.

HereAtAWS: What three words would you use to describe workdays at AWS?

Lara: Diverse, fast-paced, inspiring.

HereAtAWS: What do you love to do outside work?

Lara: I am a passionate singer! I love creating my own versions of popular songs and giving my own vibe to it. After a busy day at work, I enjoy sitting at the piano and doing music for the rest of the day. At that note, during the intern day, the kickoff session was accompanied by a DJ who’s also an AWS intern! I thought it was super cool to have a DJ jamming during a virtual event!

HereAtAWS: Is there anything else you would like to add about your personal journey?

Lara: AWS is not only a place for people with a technical background. There are lots of non-technical roles such as in marketing or sales. And even for the technical roles, if you are passionate about it, you can acquire the knowledge without having studied computational science. It is such a diverse company and I came to the realisation that there really is a role for anyone, regardless of that person’s previous background!

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