1500x Day One

Today marks 1500 days at AWS, and as hinted in my last post, I will use this milestone to reflect.

When I look back I see a few themes over these 1500 days – hiring, inspiring, building, and mastering.

Today, I’ll go deeper into hiring ….


I’ve done a lot of hiring, having participated in over 250 hiring events, ranging from initial conversations to interview loops and related debriefs. I really like this part of my role, especially when we discover those ‘hidden gems’ who may have been overlooked in the past. I wont cover the hiring process, but if curious, have a look at a breakdown on fact of the day1.

As part of the interview process, I ask candidates if they have any questions, and over time these questions tend to be quite similar, so for the benefit of future candidates who are doing research, I will provide my answers to these frequently asked questions (FAQs) in the hope that I get some different questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Day in the life of SA

Most Common Question

There’s not a typical day, but in the week, we see the following split

  • team meetings reviewing the past week and preparing for the coming week (10%)
  • prep for customer meetings ; meeting w/ customers ; meeting followups (70%)
  • sharpening the saw, making time each week to keep learning (20%)

First 6 months  / Next 6 months

I tell prospective candidates that takes a good 12 months in the role to understand the role, which invariably leads to this question.

New starters have a on-boarding plan that has a set of milestones – first day, first week, first month etc. This is put together by the hiring manager based on the new starter’s past experience and recommended best practices for the role. The expectation is that their first period is all about learning, then it’s about putting the skills into practice.

It’s like learning to drive a car – you need to learn the road rules, you get your L (learner) plate and you get to practice driving with a licensed driver or instructor by your side, then you do a driving test to get your P (provisional / probationary) plate which means you can go out on the road on your own.

Cultural differences b/w MSFT, TLS, AMZN

Another common question once folks learn about my backgroundThis is a tricky one to navigate, so I preempt the reply that it’s based on what I have experienced.

MSFT : lots of smart people, passionate about technology BUT as an organisation more focused on competitors. During my time(from 1991 to 2013), it was almost always about responding to competitors and competitive challenges. When there was no competitor, things languished BUT when there were competitive forces, the teams were united. I always felt MSFT was more of a “fast-follower”

TLS : 100+ year old Telco. Lot’s of smart and passionate people, but also an example of the 5 Monkeys Experiment

AMZN : One of the things that makes Amazon peculiar, and which I can really relate are the Leadership Principles (LPs) which are used everyday whether hiring, discussing ideas for new projects or deciding on the best approach to solving a problem.

What do I like about AWS

I’m a Passionate Advocate for the Australian Software Ecosystem, believing that “bits” trump “atoms” as it allows Australia digital companies to compete & excel globally, and a big believer that abundance will allow us all to live better lives. What does this mean? Simply put local customers can use the cloud to go global, which means the “Tyranny of Distance” is less of an issue since digital (bits) moves faster than things (atoms).

Where better to help customers in Australia (and New Zealand) do this than with AWS?