Software DevelopmentTechnology

The end of a chapter, but not the end. I’m moving over to Amazon

After nearly 7.5 years at Audible, I am moving over to Amazon NYC at the end of January. I’ll be joining the Supply Chain Optimization Technology group, leading a team using some pretty sophisticated Learning Machines – think Machine Learning, Deep Learning and more, as well as building on the latest Amazon technology. I’m super excited for it, but leaving Audible after the better part of a decade is incredibly bittersweet.

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I’m desperately going to miss not only the daily motivation that comes from working on a product with so many amazingly passionate users, but also the culture, technology, and of course people I’ve been with for so long. In 7.5 years, my career grew dramatically thanks to the opportunities I had and the incredible managers and teams around me. I built amazing friendships with colleagues and hope that I helped out a ton of team members and peers over that time. Leaving was not an easy choice.

I joined Audible in 2011 fresh from the financial industry as a web developer. I actually had little web development experience, but to Audible’s credit, they actually allowed me to pick teams, so I chose something where I could learn more. In my first week or so, I quickly discovered just how big the scale was, and how enthusiastic the users were in my first session listening to customer feedback. As the company grew and teams grew to split, I made a place for myself as a team lead for one of the web teams, never saying no to a challenge, and eventually did some work on more backend systems and services. After this, my team was looking for a manager for a small part of the team, so I decided to take the plunge. Later on, I moved to manage one of our platform service teams, and most recently moved over to manage our Player experience group, covering web, apps, and services. It’s been a heck of a ride, and I honestly don’t think I would have had all of these opportunities anywhere else.

In the technology industry, 7.5 years is nearly a lifetime. However, for me, it went by incredibly quickly as it never felt like I was doing the same thing long. With a fast paced environment of new features, new technologies to utilize, and of course changing responsibilities, I feel like I had 5 or 6 jobs over that time. My days never felt stale and I always felt like I was learning something new either in technologies, management practices, or most often, both. While I largely stayed around the domains of the Library, downloading, and checkout, it helped to have this consistency while I continued to shift my technical knowledge and skillset.

Over that time, I made a huge number of friends. When I joined, Audible was small enough to know almost everyone, and even with a huge amount of growth, it’s easy to keep in touch with most people. It really does feel like a family too, with people going out of their way to help each other out, not just at work. In this time I also feel like I helped a large number of people out as well, whether in mentoring fellow managers, advising team members, or sharing technical and domain knowledge with peers. I’ve learned a ton from them as well; it’s very helpful to be surrounded with incredibly smart, talented, and hard working people as well.

Something I often describe to interview candidates about Audible is the connection present to the end users and the mission that sparks from it. Every day I felt like what I was working on was something that would directly benefit our users and make their lives better in some way. So many people want to be able to read more, and for various reasons, just can’t, and Audible provides this opportunity to them. Whether representing Audible at tech talks, conferences, interviews, recruiting fairs, or others, I consistently heard from passionate users about how much they love the product and how we could make it even better. I’ll definitely miss this as I move away.

Of course I’ll miss some of the perks too, things like tickets to Devils games, lunch out in top restaurants in Newark, bagel Mondays, amazing iced coffee, the happy hours, and ping pong. Culture is far more than this though. The collaborative environment and learning from peers was always way more important to me, and I know I’ll find this in my new role too. I was amazed to hear from people around the company what a difference I had made to them as an ambassador of culture for the company, leader, and just a person. I couldn’t believe the amount of positive support I got, congratulating me for my career move, and telling me a difference I had made to people whether through my support on a project or advice I gave. It’s that, more than anything I’ll miss the most.

Still, I’m incredibly excited for my new role and team. I’ll be learning a ton of new technologies around Machine Learning and AWS services I’ve only played with like Fargate and Sagemaker, as well as learning an entirely new business. I know very little about supply chains, and I can’t wait to dive deep into it. I’m also excited to meet new people, from the developers on my team who I hope to quickly bond with and help in their personal goals, to the incredibly knowledgeable applied scientists who will be joining me. I’m already one week into a Coursera course from Stanford on ML, and may even take an online Master’s course. It’s got me excited to pursue broad new areas of learning. Joining Amazon in NYC right now is also incredibly exciting with a period of growth and opportunity, and I can’t wait to build similar domain knowledge, embrace and extend the culture, and prove I can build out successful teams there as well now.