13 February 2015

I sold my soul to Amazon and so can you!

After 3 years of working at the cloud computing startup Uhuru Software I am happy to report that things are going amazingly well for me! True, these great things are taking place at another company (Amazon, no less) but good is good so why quibble over details?

Sadly, there just wasn't anything more for me to do helping develop the PaaS (Platform as a Service) cloud business at Uhuru. Now I see that the Uhuru web site has been replaced with a simple page that has little product info or details and that most of my engineering colleagues have all wound up at HP (except for one who is working at still another firm).

I may not have gotten rich at Uhuru but I have no regrets. Just the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of people in a family type environment was wonderful. It was also a tremendous opportunity to expand my skills with cloud computing and virtualization as well as put my unorthodox marketing ideas to work. It was fun recruiting a huge membership for the Uhuru trial cloud service and social media communities with a shoestring budget.

It didn’t hurt that Uhuru was only 4 miles from my house, allowing me to continue biking to work on pleasant trails. I was having such a good time biking to work this summer that I even started a YouTube channel recording my commutes.

Out of the frying pan and into the Amazon fire...

And now the fun is just getting started for me at Amazon. After just 6 months of working as a Program Manager for a team building financial analytic systems for Amazon Retail I can already say that this is one of the BEST jobs I have ever had in my life! I never would have believed that a large company could be so nimble and still keep acting like a startup.

I had a lot of apprehension about working at Amazon before I started in September 2014. I'd heard all the stories about round-the-clock work and burn-out. The reality has been pleasantly surprising -- at least for the Retail Systems group where I am working (I can't really vouch for all the other areas of the company).

I never would have thought working on financial systems would be so interesting, and never wouldn't have applied for this job if a friend hadn't told me to. Now I can believe how exciting it is to build software that lets managers see how profitable it is to sell baby bathtubs in China, and understand exactly how consumer trends are changing every day. Data is fun!

My managers support initiative quite unlike most other firms I've worked at, and my engineer team-mates rarely work week-ends or late nights. It was a little disconcerting to see the lack of process we had in our engineering work, but I now think it is wonderful not to be bound by a lot of processes that may, or may not, be helpful. Our team can choose the tools, technologies and processes that we feel work best.

I had forgotten how great it can be having a job you just love while I spent 9 LONG years at Microsoft trying to work in a machine I wasn't built to fit in. My job at Amazon reminds me of the amazing days I spent back at PC Week Labs in the 1990s. Life is too short to just settle.

I feel so strongly about how great my team is that I am taking some of that initiative to try and recruit unconventional engineers to come and help build Financial Reporting and Analytics tools in Amazon Retail Systems. We are changing the way business is done by empowering business leaders to make decisions in record time with pertinent analytics.

Please give me a shout if you are interested in working at Amazon and have valid US work permits. My team is eagerly recruiting software engineers. Let me tell you all about how you can sell your soul to Amazon just like me.

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