swaits.com
a blog by Stephen waits, aka swaits


Working at Amazon. A life changing experience.

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Today is my last effective day with Amazon - my official last day is next Friday, November 26. But I'm taking most of next week off in observance of Thanksgiving in the US. Thus, today is really it!

Inevitably people will ask "why?" It's no secret that I planned to finish my career at Amazon; after all, my hair isn't getting thicker or less gray as each day goes by. And this is a damn good gig!

But, life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Something in the "oh wow, I gotta go try this" category landed in my inbox. More on that later. For now, I want to take a moment to celebrate Amazon.

This has been the best five years in my career, by far. Amazon was truly life-changing for me. From getting to work with an amazing Principal Engineer community, alongside industry luminaries, collaborating with engineering teams to build distributed systems at unmatched scale, working with hundreds of amazing, brilliant people in all kinds of roles who taught me new stuff everyday, realizing the power of Amazon's Leadership Principles and Working Backwards… I just can't say enough great things about the whole experience.

Lots of people here greatly impacted me, professionally and personally. So many, it's impossible to thank everyone by name, but I feel compelled to share a few.

I had the three best managers any person in the world could possibly have. Infinite thanks to Paul Horvath, Tony Bacos, and Margot Johnson. They showed me what truly compassionate, empathetic, people-first leadership looks like. It turns out you can deeply care about the people you work with, be extremely respectful and nice to each other, and still get lots of stuff done!

Along the way, I worked with many fantastic PEs, Sr. PEs, and even DEs. But there were a handful that were always by my side supporting me. Thank you Jenn Lin, Porter Schermerhorn, Sean Blakey, and Simon Johnston. They each taught me so much more than they probably know.

And a hat tip to Nate Wiger who started it all when he called me up a little over five years ago and said, "hey dude I wrote a six pager and now Amazon's hiring in San Diego, want to check it out?" Without him, I wouldn't be here today.

How could any person be so fortunate to experience what I've experienced at Amazon? I still don't know the answer to that. Everyday at work I want to pinch myself and verbalize: why me??? Nevertheless, I'm so grateful for it all, and not just because it's almost Thanksgiving. I'm genuinely, deeply grateful, humbled, and forever appreciative.

To everyone I worked with at Amazon, from the bottom of my heart, thank you! ❤️