First of all, I would like to thank all of you for your comments, reaching out to me, your congratulations and your thanks to the previous article I have written. You folks rock! Thank you!
How did I pass the AWS Job Interview and become a Technical Account Manager
Since we all love stats here we go:
The article had 13.1K views, read by 4.4 K of you, received 161 claps and you have sent me a total of 241 messages on the article, all of which I have responded. The average read time was 4 min 32 seconds.
Your comments consisted of these great sentences:
“I read your article online and very impressed the way u wrote.”
“ Thanks so much for writing this article. It’s been so helpful”
“I loved the article. It really gave me an idea of what it is like to be interviewed”
“Awesome article. Thanks so much.”
Before anything else, I would like to explain the job itself a bit. Alongside your congratulations, I have seen a lot of you asking the same question. What is this job about?
The job description is as follows:
As a Senior TAM, you will help craft and execute strategies to drive our customers’ adoption and use of AWS services, including EC2, S3, DynamoDB & RDS databases, Lambda, CloudFront CDN, IoT, and many more. Your technical acumen and customer-facing skills will enable you to effectively represent AWS within a customer’s environment, and drive discussions with senior leadership regarding incidents, trade-offs, support and risk management.
You will provide advocacy and strategic technical guidance to help plan and build solutions using best practices, and proactively keep your customers’ AWS environments operationally healthy. The close relationships developed with your customers will allow you to understand their business/operational needs and technical challenges, and help them achieve the greatest value from AWS. This position will require the ability to travel 10% or more as needed.
Here. Listen to what it means to be a Technical Account Managers in AWS from our very own Isabel Huerga Ayza:
If you were to ask me to explain with one word what Technical Account Managers do I would possible respond to with “Everything”.
Let’s explore a bit that everything. You will be working as the centerpiece of Enterprise support for your customers. Once you are given your customers you have one job to do Obsess over your customers, their needs, their future, their company. Take everything they do as you would do it for you and for your company.
- You are not alone. You will be in contact with the rest of your team Solutions Architects, Account Managers, Subject Matter Experts, Cloud Support Engineers. It is all about teamwork and your team is there to support you whenever you need as much as you support them whenever they do.
- You will be in contact with your customers all the time. Just like as a customer I was with my TAM, you start communicating with your customer on a daily basis.
- You will have a great understanding of their problems, pain points, parts that you see you can help change. It is your job to help your customers.
- You will always be the first contact for your customers. Depending on how big is your customer you probably are the first person to be contacted. When there is a problem you will be there to help your customers when there is a celebration you will be the first one to congratulate them.
- You will continuously work to bring the best for your customers. You are working for the most innovative company in the world, surrounded by so many clever people that are able to go in-depth in every technical aspect from databases to networking. You will be on a constant search for the best people you can talk to, to help your customers’ problems.
- You will bring new technology. Along with Solutions Architects, TAMs are very much implicated in bringing the new technologies to the customers. The minute a service hits public you are the first one to think about how this will solve the problem your customer is having or how much easier it will make things for them.
As of 20.11.2019 09.00h, I will be completing a whole 6 months in this great company. So I thought it would give you an idea of what it is like. So here is my experience and what I have learned:
1- Customer obsessed.
All your previous experience prepares you for this job. Every situation you have encountered, every article you read on how to solve a tech problem, every conversation you had with any other person where you have listened and tried to help. You and everyone in the company from the newcomers like you, to the leadership team EVERYONE has one thing in mind “Customer Obsession”.
2– It takes time.
While writing this I wanted to answer the first thing that you would ask me “What it is like there?” And I would answer:
“A place you really heard in urban legends where innovation is so fast you get things done in days, in hours. A place where you are only limited by the passion you have. A place where you have more people waiting to give you a hand. A company that makes you feel you really are a significant part of a great cause and you matter. A place where the decisions are taken in consensus, and you have a saying. And lastly, a place where leadership is so proudly open and transparent about where we all are heading to and what you can do to help. And the feedback is golden. Rather than being hidden, any feedback, no matter what is openly discussed and worked on”
And It takes time to get used to a culture you have dreamt of but never been in. Take times to get used to Amazon ways, it takes time to get used to speed there is. It takes time to ask, and be asked. It takes time to learn to accept feedback and give one. It even takes time to realize you are now an Amazonian working for AWS itself.
Well, it takes time but yet again not so much. Your first days will turn into months. One day you wake up and realize you are becoming an “Amazonian”.
3– It rains training here!
I have never ever been to a place where the training is open, encouraged, and welcomed by everyone. When you first enter as you may guess there is three months of ramp-up time for TAMs. These three months are there for you to get ready for your job in every aspect of the word. You get to know people and start your training.
There cannot be that much of training that will cover 3 months. I hear you may say but I disagree. There is training to keep you learning for a whole 3 months, not only that for the rest of your career here in Amazon. We get trained continuously.
I met one of the people that started working the same day as me. During the conversations we also touched base on the training:
Me: “ How are the trainings going?”
Him: I have completed 58 trainings I have 2 more to go.
60 trainings in 6 months
This is just the start. You are surrounded by tens of (Yes tens of!), training invitations ending up in your inbox every week. To take those trainings you are only limited with the time a day has, nothing else.
Tighten your seatbelts! You will spend hours on your computer, spend time talking to trainers, spend time traveling to learn from those who are the best.
I am actually finishing up this article at 06:30 in Barcelona Airport on my way to a two day training.
4- Learn to ask & be asked.
This is quite a slap in the face if you are a person who thinks who knows quite a bit of everything. It takes time but you learn. You will see literately everyone asking questions to each other here. We confirm our doubts, we escape from our biases and have a different opinion on most of the things we do here. Asking has nothing to do with superiority here. You will ask, you will see newcomers asking, your manager asking, his manager, and his manager’s manager asking. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
We ask, be asked about anything and we respond without any feeling of superiority. It is the Amazon Way!
5- You will never hear anyone complaining about their job.
This is the ONLY place I have been in my life where not one person did complain about their job. We all have been to many companies where during coffee breaks where we chat and ended up always criticizing the company we work for didn’t threat us correctly, or the company took a decision we didn’t like. Here in AWS, the only conversation you will hear is “How can we get x customer better service?” or “How we could help y customer doing a special workshop”.
6- Managers. What managers?
Well if you remember I had been managing teams over 10 years now before starting here. I have written about team dynamics, how to lead DevOps teams, management lessons learned. These were the lessons I have learned from my days as a manager, senior manager, and a director. Meanwhile, I was pushing to change the culture of micromanagement, fight for autonomous teams, trained members, better quality work, better conditions, conscientious in decision making I never thought I would end up in a place where those were normal.
Well here in AWS managers are different. There is no micro management, your boss is there to make sure you are happy, you have all the things you need to get your job done, you are free of blockers, you are trained, you are free to decide.
This is not only your manager. It is your managers, manager and their managers. What else can you ask from a boss while their job is you?
7- You are free
I remember my mom telling me:
You are just like your name! You cannot stand being restrained. You need to be free.
Well, I can call my mom to say “At last I am not”. If you are a Turkish reading this article you will know but for those of you who are not here is an explanation of my name:
Özgür (pronounced [ˈœzɟyɾ]) is a unisex Turkish given name and a surname meaning “free” and independent
This is THE PLACE to be if you want to be free. There is no one here telling you what to do, what should be your decision, no one taking the decision in your name, no one stopping you. This is a place for freedom and autonomy.
Not only n your work but anything you want to do here you are free. In my 3rd month, I have seen we could have done something better. I wrote a one-pager where I explained why we should do it, passed it to my manager & manager in the project.
Did my boss said you cannot? No
Dos HR told me not to do it? No
Did my colleagues told me to stop? Of course No!
I started working on it and now 3 months later I am working on the project making it better every single day.
There is no one stopping you here. Just do it.
8- You will learn. A LOT!
This is the best place you can be, it does not matter what time are you at in your career. You will learn from trainings, you will learn from your boss, you will learn from customers, you will learn from the oldest employees, you will learn from the newest ones. We all learn here not monthly, not daily, we learn hourly.
9- You are surrounded by talent.
Do you remember how hard you prepared for your interview? Do you remember how deep interviewers go when they were asking why did you do? How you solved a problem? Do you remember how you had to pass a whole day on-site interview with 5 people back-to-back?
It all make sense. Everyone that comes into AWS, Every person is well examined for both technically, and personally to see if we are fit to join this awesome company.
Once you pass the interview, and the minute you step into your AWS office you realize why that is. You are surrounded by people, people much better than you, people that are experts in their areas, people that are clever, people so bright you feel it is a privilege to work with.
Most importantly you realize you are one of them.
10- You will find your unmet heros.
I always have been a fan of twitter. Depending on the circles you are in, the people you follow you get to read and be a part of a great open discussion. You meet people that are driving the change.
While I was looking forward to meeting our CTO Werner Vogels or Jeff Barr our Chief Evangelist or our CEO Andy Jassy. I realized this company is full of heroes. One of them is Glenn Gore, our Chief Architect. In an internal conference, we had the pleasure to listen to him live that captured all of our attention. One of the brightest minds in the industry, one of the humblest people you can meet with.
Here is Glenn Gore in AWS Summit in Warsaw this year:
11- You will make friends & join the Tamily
Well the last one but an important one. You come across so many bright people, so many people like you, so many talented colleagues. You will get to know them. You will join the family and you will make a great team with them.
Join our Technical Account Managers Discord community to meet me and our other members as well as join the discussion about the TAM role. We also have a channel where we post open TAM roles in different companies.
If you are on the same journey feel free to contact me via Twitter or LinkedIn.
Update: As of March 2020 I got promoted to be the new Head of Enterprise Support for Spain & Portugal. I am currently managing a Golden Army of Technical Account Managers serving our customers.
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