After spending 15 years in the Singaporean Navy, Henry Low decided to take the plunge and join an e-commerce business in Britain. He wanted to try something new.
In his new role as director of operations, the former lieutenant colonel worked nights and led a team of pickers, packers and shippers to prepare items for shipment to the company’s distribution center.
Some might say the role was “a step backwards” from his previous job, says Low, 47, married with two children aged seven and 11. stagger execution operations and develop supply chain and technical skills.
He was promoted within 10 months. “My general manager asked me if I wanted to take over the role of my boss,” he says. “I told him that I had barely learned enough to take over, but he said, ‘We trust you. Go ahead, make mistakes. Its good’.”
This company is Amazon.
It was the first of many leadership roles Mr. Low would take on at Amazon. Reflecting the rise of the e-commerce juggernaut over the past decade, he has gone from overseeing the establishment of more UK distribution centers to being Asia Pacific Director of global specialist distribution teams. in Japan.
He returned to Singapore in 2016 as COO of Amazon Singapore and eventually took on the role of Country Director. The decision to return to Singapore was “a no-brainer,” said Low, who relished the chance to “bring Amazon Prime home”.
In his first year, he helped launch the Prime Now on-demand purchase and delivery service in Singapore, his first market in Southeast Asia. He now oversees Amazon’s consumer activities in Singapore, including the online store Amazon.sg and the Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service.
Drawing on his own experiences, Mr. Low shares that he regularly encourages his team in Singapore to take full advantage of the various opportunities offered by the multinational company.
“I tell my staff not to just stick to the same role. Try another country. Try another role, ”he says. “At Amazon, we understand that working in different teams and functions enriches the individual.”
He adds that staff are encouraged to take overseas assignments. To commemorate this milestone, digital stickers are given to employees after each mission abroad. Stickers appear on employee profiles on the internal company portal and recognize participation or completion of a company program, certification or event.
Since the launch of Amazon.sg here in 2019, more local employees have returned from their overseas assignments to start and grow the business in Singapore. Mr. Low hopes to expand similar opportunities to other local talent. “I look forward to the day when I can be a net exporter of Singaporean talent to our international offices. “
300 jobs to seize
Born from a basement as an online bookstore in 1995, Amazon’s meteoric growth to become one of the world’s largest and most valuable retailers has a lot to do with its expansion strategies.
Singapore has emerged as a key player in its growth plans in recent years, serving as a regional base for Amazon Prime, the live video streaming service Twitch, as well as the company’s cloud computing arm, Amazon Web Services (AWS).
The online sales giant has more than 1.3 million employees worldwide. He is looking to fill another 300 vacancies in Singapore across various departments including cloud services, operations and logistics and data engineering. Although the company has not split the workforce, country manager Henry Low said Amazon has a healthy Singaporean employee base.
“Singapore’s strategic location as a stepping stone to Asia continues to be a critical factor in building a digitally skilled workforce and community, not only for Amazon but for our customers,” partners and communities, ”he adds.
“We want to help more customers in Singapore to shop securely and conveniently from Amazon.sg, and for more businesses to grow, globalize, innovate and digitally transform with AWS cloud technology. . “
Now the third largest enterprise software company in the world, AWS counts DBS Bank, insurer AXA and the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) among its clients. It aims to train 29 million people worldwide in cloud computing by 2025.
Cloud computing, which refers to the provision of IT services such as storage, databases, software and analytics over the internet, is expected to flourish in Singapore. This is one of two technology areas that the government has identified as critical to achieving the country’s Smart Nation aspirations.
Singaporean Sandra Teh, 46, Employer Branding Manager for Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China, AWS, said the company is looking to strengthen the Republic’s cloud talent pool through various programs and initiatives. . They include over 500 free training and certification modules, and most recently, a data center operations internship with AWS.
She says a large number of internship applicants are graduates of the polytechnic or the Technical Education Institute.
AWS also offers a free cloud computing program to the five polytechnics, among other higher education institutions. The program prepares students for industry-recognized cloud certification to help them land better jobs in the industry.
Ms Teh, married and mother of two young daughters, joined AWS in 2017 after commuting between Singapore, Japan and China for more than 24 years under various employers. She says, “The person who hired me said, ‘You’re not just going to be building the cloud community for our business. You are here to build the cloud community for the whole country and region ”.
“The Smart Nation program was something I knew well, and I knew that the commitment of the Singapore government was a strong commitment that would give birth to an exciting future. So I wanted to make sure that as a Singaporean patriot, I could lean on to contribute. “
Besides developing young talent, Amazon is also looking to help Singaporean companies develop their workforce. Ms. Teh cited as an example a collaboration between AWS and DBS to equip 3,000 DBS staff with basic skills in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
These employees range from bank clerks and agents to senior executives who lack technology experience. As part of the program, participants learn the basics of AI and machine learning to program an autonomous virtual racing car that they can test and modify in a virtual racing league.
“Many would say that science, technology, math and engineering are complex, very difficult to understand, and are probably only for geeks. The AWS DeepRacer League was launched to democratize technology and make machine learning fun and simple, ”she says.
Talking about talents
Singaporean Abdul Hakeem Mohamed Yunos, 28, talks about his work as a Territory Manager for the Indonesian market and his career development at Amazon Web Services (AWS).
When and why did you join AWS?
I joined in July 2017 after graduating from university. I’ve always been interested in technology and have been an Amazon Prime customer since I graduated from college. I applied to AWS because it is one of the global leaders in technology and innovation and wanted to be a part of the rapidly changing and growing cloud computing industry.
How has your career evolved over the past four years?
I started with the Marketing Response Center team, where I was responsible for following new clients who attended online and offline marketing events, such as the AWS Summit and the Builders webinar series.
I have helped new customers navigate AWS Cloud services by guiding them through registration and submitting training materials and information on upcoming workshops and events. These early conversations ultimately led our customers to embrace the cloud.
Most recently, I took on the role of Territory Manager for our AWS Indonesia customers. I enjoy working with customers, partners, solution architects and account managers at AWS to deliver the best customer experience and help our customers transform on the AWS Cloud. My multilingual skills are also valued by my teams and my clients.