Article: Looking customer backwards, not skills forward


Looking customer backwards, not skills forward

Good talent has extraordinary skills and also customer-oriented outlook, says Raj Raghavan, Director-HR of Amazon India
Looking customer backwards, not skills forward

It is not just about having fun at the workplace, but also about working hard enough to make the customer experience more fulfilling


There is tremendous potential for growth and expansion in the e-commerce industry as it is still in the nascent stage. A lot needs to be explored and experimented with. We have been in the business for the past 10 years and have seen the industry grow from scratch. The industry has been on an escalated growth ride in the last few years and is expected to grow even faster now. This is why Amazon decided to invest another $2 billion to help expand its India e-retail business. Like most other businesses, the customer holds the key to business growth in this industry. Hence, they are always at the top of our agenda, be it for expanding business or while hiring talent.

Our obsession with customers and our customer-focused work culture is one of our biggest strengths. Hence, we look for people who are customer-focused and have the ability to imbibe this unique work culture. For us, exceptional talent is not just about extraordinary skills but more about the capability to work customer backwards, keeping the trust of the customers intact. A culture fit is the most vital criteria for any candidate we hire. We also aim at raising the performance bar with each new hire as we endeavour to bring in the best. Hiring great talent is embedded in our DNA such that we cannot compromise on the quality of talent at any cost.

With plans for an aggressive expansion of the talent pool this year and next, we are looking at hiring for both the retail business and the development centres. While hiring is taking place across all levels and functions, we are getting both freshmen and experienced executives. Since the industry has been an attractive place for talent, there is a lot of lateral movements into the sector. We are open to people from all sectors provided they are sincerely keen to make a shift to the e-commerce space. In order to attract and engage top talent from campuses and introduce potential candidates to our customer-centric culture, we organize special initiatives like the ACE (Amazon Customer Experience) case study competitions, hackathons, technology seminars and other events. In addition, we also have some specific leadership programs for global campuses.

Everything that we do from hiring to developing talent is aligned with our long-term goals and vision. We do not sacrifice long-term values for short-term results, which is why it is very important for us to introduce our new hires to the culture and values. To enable the same, each of our new hires is assigned a mentor or a buddy who helps him/her navigate through the company helping to understand the importance of these values. Other programs like the BOLD (Building Operational Leadership) enable our people to be leaders in their own domains and to perform at their best. We treat our leaders like owners and provide them the power and flexibility to take innovative steps. Innovation is at the core of our functioning but at the same time we are also very strongly self-critical and that is how we motivate people to outperform themselves.

Work hard, have fun and make history is our mantra for a highly engaged team and this is also a reflection of what kind of an experience our potential hires can expect. It is not just about having fun while at work but also working hard enough to make the customer experience also fun and fulfilling. It is not something that only the customer facing employees need, but something that is the key ingredient to the success of our businesses. Be it directly or indirectly, anything that each of the employee does impacts our customers. Hence, while roping in new hires, we always think customer backwards rather than skills forward.

As told to People Matters

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Topics: Entrepreneurship, #GlobalPerspective

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