AWS Summit Stockholm

AWS Stockholm Summit 2023

On May 11th, for the second time I was standing at AWS Support booth at the AWS Stockholm Summit. The day was full of interactions with dozens of customers, partners and other Amazonians.

This year my team and myself were talking with AWS customers about three main themes – resiliency while staying cost optimized, security and incident monitoring.

The goal for the next year – be one of the breakout session speakers at the event!

Amazon Bar Raiser

Amazon Bar Raiser

With this post I want to celebrate a personal achievement and important milestone in my career. After passing extensive training program, I have become Amazon Bar Raiser!

Since the day I had my interview at Amazon back in January 2020,  I was amazed by Amazon hiring process and when I started interviewing myself and learnt more about how to Make Great Hiring Decisions and the role of Bar Raiser, I knew that I want to become a BR myself.

So, now I will do my best to keep raising the bar, support my peers in different Amazon organizations and continue do what I enjoy – meet diverse candidates, learn about them and help Hiring Managers.

The formal definition of Amazon Bar Raiser goes as following:

A Bar Raiser is an interviewer at Amazon who is brought into the hiring process to be an objective third party. By bringing in somebody who’s not associated with the team, the best long-term hiring decisions are made and we can ensure that the company is always serving, surprising, and innovating for customers. The role of the Bar Raiser is to be a steward of Amazon’s 16 Leadership Principles.

I want to share some of insights that I got during my Bar Raiser In Training program.

  • Some candidates eager to know who is a Bar Raiser at their interview. This is partially a natural curiosity but in the reality, this information does not matter much for the interview outcome. The candidate is being assessed holistically and exceptionally good interview with a Bar Raiser will not outweigh issues with other interviewers
  • Authenticity matters a lot. It is very clear when a candidate is trying to pretend and when their stories are not aligned with how they possess themselves. So, instead of trying to act like some other person, concentrate on quality of the stories.
  • While subjectively a candidate may think that the situation they are describing is complex, it may no be true. So, think in advance – Are your examples, actually complex and not everybody would be able to achieve results you were able to achieve?

Check out my other post Amazon interviews “Yes, but…” insights

Amazon Interviews

Amazon interviews “Yes, but…” insights

Recently, I have crossed the mark of 150 completed interviews at Amazon. Taking my tenure into the account, I have interviewed one candidate every 4 days. It may look like a high number, but I am still learning what does it mean to be a “professional interviewer”. I am passionate about the subject, so I want to share some of the insights. So, this will be a first post of its kind.

Today’s topic – preparation for an interview at Amazon.

What is common among the candidates who received an offer from Amazon? They took time to prepare for the interview, but there are some nuances you should be aware of:

  • Be prepared, but not overdo it. It is very clear for the interviewer, especially tenured one, when a candidate is prepared. But is also very clear when the candidate overdid that. When a candidate answers looks like a script, it breaks a natural flow of a conversation and may give a weird impression.
  • Know Amazon leadership principles, but do not try to memorize them. Nobody will ask you to name Amazon Leadership Principles during your interview, so an attempt to remember them all is a waste of time. Amazon interviewers assess your previous experience, complexity of situations you dealt with and scale of your impact.
  • Prepare to ask questions, but only relevant ones. There are no additional scores for the question “What is your favorite Amazon Leadership Principle?”. Ask something that you genuinely interested in – a team structure, a working from home policy, key objectives for the role you applied and etc.
  • Carefully read emails from a recruiter, but do your own research. There is a reason why recruiters send you information before the interview. And this information is important, do not ignore it. But it should not be your single source of truth.
  • Collect data points for your examples, but only those you can explain. Amazon is a truly data-driven company, so are Amazon interviewers. But if a candidate cannot explain context of the data or how it was measured/collected, it does not give additional scores to the candidate.

If you are interested in the role of Technical Account Manager, check out my other post.

Candidate FAQ: Technical Account Manager and Enterprise Support

At September 2020 I have joined AWS as Senior Technical Account Manager in Nordics region. Our team is growing with amazing pace and we are hiring in all Nordics countries. One year later, already in a new role, I am writing this post to share insights about what Technical Account Manager (TAM) role is.

FAQ below will help candidates to understand better TAM role, Enterprise Support organization and Amazon culture. Feel free to post comments with your questions or reach out to me via Linkedin

Q: What Technical Account Manager role is at AWS?

A: A Technical Account Manager (TAM) is customer’s designated technical point of contact who helps customers onboard, provides advocacy and guidance to help plan and build solutions using best practices, coordinates access to subject matter experts, assists with case management, presents insights and recommendations on your AWS spend, workload optimization, and event management, and proactively keeps customers’ AWS environment healthy.

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AWS whitepapers

The Best AWS Whitepapers for Cloud Procurement

Migration to Cloud impacts whole enterprise organization from engineering to marketing. Procurement and financial teams are not an exclusion as well. In fact, these teams need to adopt completely new mental model – shift from CAPEX to OPEX, shortened procurement cycles and high pace of change.

The new way of working between Financial and Engineering parts of organization in Cloud is FinOps or Cloud Financial Management. I am going to write a detailed article about FinOps implementation in large enterprises at some point in time. But even if organization does not plan to implement FinOps practices, they still need to teach procurement and finance how to operate in the new reality.

Disclaimer: This post is on my own and doesn’t necessarily represent Amazon Web Services’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

How you do that?

The challenge is that last 10-15 years of technological innovation did not change procurement process much in large enterprises. So, the gap is significant. In my experience, organizations tend to forget about it or do not realize that it exists. As a result, engineering organization may already adopt Cloud, while for finance team it is still an unknown land and their processes are not aligned with Cloud Economics.

I came up with a list of AWS Whitepapers and other resources that can be used as “Introduction to Cloud Economics for Procurement”.

  1. We start with some chapters from Overview of Amazon Web Services, specifically – “What is Cloud Computing?”, “Six Advantages of Cloud Computing” and “Types of Cloud Computing”
  2. The next step is to get familiar with Core Concepts of AWS and take this 10-minutes virtual training
  3. After that we can move on to procurement specific topics and study Ten Considerations for a Cloud Procurement whitepaper.
  4. AWS Pricing is a next topic in your journey. This is a very long and fundamental whitepaper. Save link to it and use it as a reference for future budgeting and forecasting.
  5. One of the most important instruments for cost planning is AWS Calculator, so spend some time to review how does it work here.
  6. Final step is to become proficient with main instrument of cost visibility – AWS Cost Explorer

Cloud Financial Management is a huge topic at AWS but 5 resources above is an absolute minimum that your procurement team should read and understand.

Check out my other post about AWS Whitepapers.

7 Best AWS Whitepapers and Guides for Enterprise

This post is a first of its kind. It is a summary of my recent thoughts about AWS Cloud as a system and how to manage it. More insights will follow.

Disclaimer: This post is on my own and doesn’t necessarily represent Amazon Web Services’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

Let’s imagine you are an employee of a medium or large size enterprise. Let’s imagine the enterprise is investing in Cloud services. Some teams are moving their workloads to Cloud, some are not doing it yet, but senior management is convinced that company’s IT future will be going hand in hand with Cloud technologies.

A number of accounts is growing and management made a decision to establish centralized Cloud governance and create… Let’s call it Cloud Infrastructure Management team. And you are member of this team. Your task is to create a scalable and robust mechanisms to perform administrative and management tasks of your Cloud infrastructure.

So, where do you start?

The list of AWS Whitepapers and Guides below will help you to build a foundation of theoretical knowledge and practical advices. It is far from complete and covers only tiny percentage of publicly available AWS documentation.

  1. Assess where the company in stages of Cloud adoption is and familiarize yourself with AWS Cloud Adoption Framework. To create any route you need to know where you are. The same applies for an organization that going through technological transformation and adopting Cloud.
  2. A corner stone of Cloud governance system is you and your team. Read about Cloud Enablement Engine team, how to structure it, what responsibilities does it have and a lot more. Use this whitepaper as a prescriptive guidance for organizational and technological improvements.
  3. Learn about how to organize your AWS Cloud environment. This monumental whitepaper will explain you how to create most efficient AWS Organizations structure, transform your multiple isolated accounts into secure and reliable system with hierarchy and OUs (Organizational Units). It will take time to build it, so be patient.
  4. Read about AWS Share Responsibility Model and deliver this knowledge to everybody in your organization who build applications on top of AWS Services.
  5. Make sure you build your AWS environment with Cost Optimization in my mind. This whitepaper will teach you what are key Cost Optimization pillars, introduce you Cloud Financial Management theory and tools you will use for Cloud costs analysis and forecasting
  6. Start to investigate how to architect applications in the cloud. You will use AWS Well-Architected Framework on every stages of application lifecycle – development, deployment and operations.
  7. And last but not least – ramp up your or other team members with Cloud knowledge. This collection of AWS Ramp-up Guides will be a starting point for lifting up AWS competence and help your organization to be successful in Cloud.

Education is a never ending process and much more excellent AWS Whitepapers and Guides are available for you.

What is your list of best materials about Cloud? Share your thoughts and suggestions in comments section!