Marta joined AWS in March 2019 and is a Business Development Manager focused on Startup customers and is based in Lisbon, Portugal.
HereAtAWS: Hi Marta, tell us about your career journey. What brought you to your current role at AWS?
Marta: I first met members of the AWS team when I was working as Head of Community at a startup incubator in Portugal. I started working together with members of the AWS Startup team and was immediately fascinated by what they would tell me about what it is like to work at Amazon and the Leadership Principles. Later down the line, I crossed paths with AWS again, during a dinner at WebSummit in which Werner Vogels was present and spoke to us about the importance of having large enterprises like AWS working closely with startups, to help them grow.
The more people I met from AWS, the more fascinated I was with how customer-centric all interactions were, especially how open AWS was about thinking innovatively and outside of the box. I was from the startup world, observing AWS as a partner was fascinating for me because I wasn’t expecting such an open-minded approach to innovation and how they could support startups.
This is when I realised I wanted to join the AWS Startup team: because at AWS I could continue having that startup mindset whilst working for a global company.
The funny thing is, my background was totally not technical… and I’d never thought I’d get make it into AWS…but... here I am! And in only one and a half years I feel like I’ve already come a long way.
HereAtAWS:Can you explain your role in simple terms? Who are your customers, and how you help them?
Marta: My role at AWS is to build the bridge between AWS in Portugal and the entire local startup ecosystem; that being VC’s, incubators, accelerators, startup organisations and, of course, the startups themselves. I suppose I am the face of AWS for startups on a local level. My biggest objective is to help any startup grow with the full support of AWS. I am often a mentor for early stage startup founders and support them not only through AWS credits but also through the several AWS startup programs around go-to-market, helping them get what they need to succeed.
HereAtAWS: What kind of skills do you need to succeed in your role?
Marta: To succeed in my role I need to be someone who has a great capacity of earning trust and being extremely customer-obsessed. When you are working with startups, you need to be able to put yourself in their shoes because these fast-paced companies really do go through several ups and downs, I need to constantly see things from their perspective and understand what it is that they actually need in order to succeed.
Another skill I need to have is the capacity to network, to build bridges between the right people , such as VCs and founders, as well as connecting with internal or external people at AWS that might support them during an important phase the company is going through.
Last but not least, for my role it is important to have a good understanding of AWS services and technology. I was not from a technical background before I joined AWS, but the company has invested in me and supported me in getting the right certifications in order to become more independent speaking about these topics.
HereAtAWS: Have you had to learn any specific new skills for your role?
Marta: Yes, I have successfully completed my Cloud Practitioner certification as well as a 3-day Architecting on AWS training session in London, in order to become more fluent and confident when speaking about ML, AI, Containers and AWS as a whole.
HereAtAWS: How would you say your work with customers help to make a positive impact on society?
Marta: Through working with startups and helping them succeed, I am very aware that indirectly (or even maybe directly!) I myself am making an impact. Not only do I feel like I am supporting bright minds (founders) to bring projects to reality that may really change the world we live in, I also feel as if I am helping my own country to continue to have a DNA for innovation and technology. Working with startups and helping them grow also means that I am being a spokesperson internally to what can be achieved with Enterprises, for example, through the bright solutions startups are coming up with.
HereAtAWS:At work, are you involved in any activities outside of your role?
Marta: At work I am part of the Emotional Intelligence Affinity Group and I also am part of the Women @ Amazon Iberia Affinity Group. It is great to be able to share stories and knowledge with peers.
HereAtAWS:What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Marta: I love every aspect of my job but the best part is helping the startups have the resources they need in order to gain time to build something extraordinary, and then seeing them come out the other side, strong and ready to hit the ground running.
HereAtAWS: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Marta: At AWS we like to be constantly raising the bar and this is good because it means constantly getting out of your comfort zone. So I would say that the most challenging, but also rewarding part of my job is that finally at AWS I am in a place where I am made to get out of my comfort zone several times a week. By working here, you become a leader. You don’t wait for things to happen anymore. You get up, and build stuff with your own two hands, with the help and support of hundreds or thousands of other bright minds.
HereAtAWS:What advice would you give people joining AWS?
Marta: Live and Breathe the Leadership Principles. Really try to understand them and their purpose on your day-to-day life at work. Whether you are in discussion with a customer or with a colleague, the Leadership Principles are really useful to guide you on making good decisions. Being an Amazonian means having a Day 1 mentality, every day of your life and the Leadership Principles are the foundation of that!
HereAtAWS:What three words would you use to describe workdays at AWS
Marta: Exciting, appealing, effervescent.
HereAtAWS: What do you love to do outside work?
Marta: Outside of work there are several things I love to do but one thing I have really gained a passion for is playing Padel. This is a sport that actually takes quite some hours of my week because you need to practice it a lot in order to improve.
Another thing I’ve gained love for is reading and painting. When the working hours are over you can usually find me switching into Arts Marta with my hands full of paint, or reading a book about the topics such as the power of vulnerability or improving emotional intelligence skills (topics I love!). I am also a mentor to young students (mostly women) and do that as a hobby because it helps me keep grounded and allows me to pass on what I’ve learnt to younger generations.
HereAtAWS:When you look back, did you ever envisage this career ahead of you?
Marta: I started working when I was 18 and failed on my last school year because I wasn’t good enough at maths. My parents didn’t need me to work, but I wanted to do it. So, whilst I was repeating that year, I started working in a call center. I was someone who always thought long-term and knew that little steps would take me to great places. I never gave up on what I wanted to be since I was a little girl; to be an independent woman who has everything she needed to support herself.
Being from a family of strong women who were all mostly entrepreneurs, I took this very seriously.
I ended up working part-time all throughout university and even my masters degree. I loved working with customers and listening to what they needed and finding solutions for that. I loved building projects. I ended up going to India where I volunteered for some months and then to the United Nations HQ in NYC where I was an intern. I was always passionate about startups and innovation.
There was one thing I knew throughout: one day I want to work in a large corporation, which can allow me to help represent businesses that need me to bring their success forward. And here I am today. At AWS, surrounded daily by individuals I really enjoy working with and who push me forward.
I have come a long way and could not have done it without the right people and mentors, and definitely would not have come this far if AWS hadn’t seen the real me and identified that I could bring value to their launch in Portugal.