S’porean, 25, who joined Amazon as part-timer with no industry experience, is now a team lead at its fulfillment centre


| Zhangxin Zheng | Sponsored | September 30, 2021, 08:00 PM

Before your orders are fulfilled, the items you purchase from Amazon.sg will be picked, packed and sorted at the fulfillment centre by the Amazon operations team.

With many people staying in and working from home, you can imagine the volume and variety of items that the Amazon Operations team has to handle during this pandemic.

This situation presented an opportunity for a 25-year-old Singaporean, Kathie Koh, who said that she initially just wanted to “get by” during the pandemic by becoming a part-time associate at Amazon’s fulfillment centre.

Now, Koh is a team lead at the fulfillment centre, and she brought us through the various roles in the operations team and what it is like working at Amazon Operations.

Part-timer rose to become a team lead in 1.5 years despite having zero industry experience

Fresh out of school, the Arts Management Diploma graduate simply wanted a job to “sustain [her] financially” and chanced upon this part-time role through a friend.

Despite not having any experience in the logistics industry, Koh managed to rise from a part-time associate to a Team Lead in just a year and a half.

In addition, the fulfillment centre isn’t just a workplace to Koh as what she would expect initially. She shared with Mothership that she has “found a home here”.

“I wasn’t very sure what this job required and at that time, didn’t have much knowledge on logistics. But I just took the job as a way to earn income. Having worked here for almost a year and half now, I have grown to love the warm and inclusive culture at the Amazon fulfillment centre, where our managers and peers are very supportive of one another.”

Photo from Amazon Singapore.

Adapt and apply relevant skill sets at work

While Koh is an Arts Management Diploma graduate, she is still able to draw relevance between what she had learnt at school and what’s required for her to excel at work.

She also mentioned how her past customer service experience in the food & beverage industry is useful as it taught her how to be a good team player and be customer-focused.

“While the operations job I have today is different from my prior F&B experience, the lessons I have learnt from the industry come in handy when we work together as a team to deliver the best to our customers. People from all industries are able to work well here.”

At Amazon Operations, different roles from inbound duties to picking, packing, and shipping have to work in harmony, Koh described.

“When we receive the items from suppliers, the inbound team will look at sorting out the items and add them to the inventory systems before the stowers bring it into the stowing section. Once the items are logged and stored appropriately, picking teams will be able to find items to fulfil new customer orders and send them off for packing and delivery. We have people working in these roles at every point of this process.”

Inclusive team and helpful managers

Having said that, Koh gave credit to her managers and colleagues for helping her to develop the necessary skills and giving her time to learn.

“Our managers and teams are very patient with newcomers and are willing to take time out to teach us...our managers are very hands-on. In fact, they’ve helped me learn and hone news skills, such as people management, that helped me grow and become a Team Lead.”

Besides having a supportive team, Koh added that what makes the fulfillment centre in Singapore a great place to work is the flexibility in working hours, on top of its competitive pay.

Creating a community of women leaders within Amazon

Koh is an example of the type of female leaders that Amazon is actively cultivating and supporting internally.

Speaking to Mothership, Senior Manager of Human Resources at Amazon Asia Pacific, Saurabh Gahrotra, 38, said that Amazon believes in building teams that are inclusive, diverse and equitable. Even Amazon’s website says ‘All builders welcome’.

Photo from Amazon Singapore.

Singapore is home to a hotpot of cultures and offers a natural & dynamic environment that supports Amazon’s workforce philosophy. Here, they have several initiatives that support people and help them create fulfilling careers.

For instance, their employee-led affinity group called “[email protected]” focuses on advocating gender diversity and supporting women & their allies within the Amazon community. The vision of this program is to make Amazon the premier destination for female talent across businesses and job functions.

The fact that Koh rose through the ranks so quickly, despite being an absolute greenhorn at the start, is a testament to this aspect of Amazon’s culture.

“We’ve tried to stay very focused on building a diverse workforce that encourages everyone to pursue careers of their choices. Diversity is not only about multicultural and multiracial, but it's also about every kind of choice that an individual may or may not make [for his/her career].”

Saurabh himself is another example.

After working for two years at Amazon in India, Saurabh said he is thankful for his then-manager who encouraged him to try new things and move to Singapore as one of the pioneering team members.

“My manager at the time told me, he said, “You know you should look for varied experiences, try working in different countries, try working across different cultures and functions. That's what enriches us as individuals.” And it was that advice that got me to Singapore, and this is again something that I deeply value about Amazon. We encourage employees to pick up different roles, even if they are in other countries!”

At this point, Saurabh, who clearly is a very passionate HR leader, pointed me to check out the job openings on Amazon’s website. (For this article, not for me personally. Don’t worry, boss.)

“I'm really emphasising, anybody who sees themselves as a builder, irrespective of their educational background, or work experience, they should definitely check out www.Amazon.jobs,” he said.

Several job openings are now available at Amazon Operations Singapore, ranging from roles at the fulfillment centre to those related to technology, sustainability, safety, finance and more.

If you are looking for a job or a career switch, find out more here.

Interested to know more about working as an associate with Amazon? Here's why associates choose to work at Amazon Operations.

This article is sponsored by Amazon Operations Singapore

All images from Amazon Singapore.