At Amazon, a ‘boomerang’ is widely accepted as an unofficial title given to people that leave and somehow end up back at Amazon. We sat down with Jim Dantzler (Director, UX Design - Devices and Services Design Group), whose career took him to and from the company twice, and Kris Bell (Senior Principal Designer, Shopping Design), who has worked at Amazon for a total of 12 years. We discussed their path of working at Amazon, pursuing other opportunities, and then ‘boomeranging’ back.
As we talked through their perspectives on what made them come back to Amazon, we learned four things that helped guide their decision to return.
Let’s explore what they said...
Amazon has grown exponentially, as have the unique opportunities that exist for the people who work here; opportunities that don’t necessarily exist in other companies. Where else can you create an inclusive and fashionable “Virtual try-on shoes” app, launch robots into space, launch the design of a sustainable fleet of electronic vehicles, and so much more all under one umbrella?!
Amazon recognizes the importance of involving the design community’s insight and expertise to shape the future initiatives of the company. Kris (senior principal designer) explains that we’re investing in the development of our design space through “mature processes around promotion and hiring...building the community, mechanisms, and connective tissue of design” as Amazon grows in scale and complexity.
The concept that ‘all designers do it the same’ isn’t true at Amazon. According to Kris, “we do have all these different pockets. Each of those individual teams has to do it their own way, and then we have to go find the ways to stay consistent with our peers and work together”. Expecting a creative community to come up with unique, world changing ideas while requiring them to follow an unwavering process has the potential to restrict their creativity.
Amazon’s decentralized organizational structure provides design teams the flexibility to create unique solutions for their individual business verticals. Creatives have autonomy over their work and design teams operate similarly to small startups. Decentralized processes and locations may seem to separate us; but as Kris mentioned before, shared values and design frameworks bring the community together as one Amazon Design.
“We're constantly growing and evolving, but at the same time there are these remarkable consistencies. The focus on the leadership principles, which have been very, very grounded and have been in existence for a long time...” -Jim Dantzler
We wouldn’t be Amazon without talking about the leadership principles, right? These principles are not an exclusive secret sauce of success passed down by a special select group of people. They are common values that improve how people live and work across all walks of life. What makes them unique is how all 16 principles show up in a room together; by people who live and breathe them in a workplace setting here at Amazon.
When we work together to live out the leadership principles, people feel safe being themselves and speaking their opinions on their teams. Creativity can then be supported and encouraged, and this can strip away boundaries to innovations across our products and services.
It’s a team effort to arrive at the best end user experience, and Amazon employees are genuinely curious about what their team members are working on and how they can provide input to enhance that experience for the end user. Jim mentioned that “the focus on working back from the customers being the atomic unit” is the foundation that great products and services are built from. At Amazon, it isn’t difficult to find people that see and believe in that foundation.
There are many reasons people pursue opportunities at Amazon, but these are just a few of the key reasons that attracted design leaders: Kris and Jim.
Are you curious about the opportunities across our Amazon Design community? Check out our career opportunities here.
Also, if you’d like to learn more about the Amazon Leadership principles we mentioned above, you can check them out here.