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 β€œbits” trump β€œatoms” 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?

Four years have flown by

This week I passed my 4 years at AWS, and what an interesting time it’s been. Since my last post, we still find ourselves in a global pandemic, dealing with the latest variant which continues to impact our lives. All the members of the household have had their 2 vaccines and have been recently boosted, so we’re doing our bit BUT living in Melbourne, one of the most locked down cities in the world, has been tough. On the plus side, I did get myself a cool new t-shirt to remember the experience.

So, we find ourselves at the start of 2022, with another mountain to climb, memories to be made, goals to be met (and exceeded) and ready to face whatever challenges the year ahead will put in front on us.

I am thankful I have a comfy spot at home to get my work done, adequate bandwidth, walking distance to some of the best coffee in Melbourne, and access to plenty of snacks.

I recently got a replacement laptop, which is a big improvement over my trusty old friend who developed a swollen battery and was starting to run out of steam. By the end of it all, the old laptop was being held together by a whole bunch of stickers.

I’ve got more to say, but I’ll save that for when I reach my 1500 days milestone – which isn’t that far.

700 Days with an unexpected twist!

Today is my 700th day at AWS. Nice round number eh? 1 year, 11 months since I started! The team has grown, with new hires in Melbourne, Sydney & Brisbane (and Perth).  It’s been a wild ride, or should I say a wild ryde πŸ¦„.

Now, the twist is that my daughter Emma is starting today at AWS as an intern!


Photographic proof – It’s Emma at AWS

If someone had told me that would be the case 700 days ago, I would not have believed it!  In retrospect it’s kinda obvious that this was going to happen.

emmaandjeff (2)

When Jeff met Emma

I’m sure she will have a lot to say about her day – but I just couldn’t resist a post to celebrate both milestones, as I join an exclusive group.


100 days, but still Day One

I’ve just hit 100 days with AWS.

It’s been a mix of on-boarding, travel, working with my team, learning what needs to be done, and culminated with a few days last week at AWS Summit in SYDNEY


Looking back at my TripIt stats, it kinda says it all…..

Trips 8
Days 38
Distance 54,682 km
Cities 7
Countries 4


Since starting the new role, I’ve been on the look out for a new avatar.Β  I had to leave my old ones, and I had been using a temporary one which I kinda liked (can anyone guess where it’s from?)

First Avatar Last Temporary

So I need a new look.

I had a bright idea — I went to fiverr, and using the same photo, I got a few different avatars. I tried Simpsons style, Archer style, flat style, shadowy, artistic, cartoony, but I must admit I really really love the Bob’s Burger style –Β So that’s the one in the top left…Β  My family reckons is a good likeness too – it’s a keeper. Expect to see it everywhere


And speaking of seeing it everywhere, I helped designed a burger for Royal Stacks (Yes i know right).Β  It’s called the QWERTY, and available only for the month of April! The burger is pretty awesome if I say so myself πŸ™‚ #AchievementUnlocked πŸ”

Now, one of the things that has really struck me is that Amazon, and therefore AWS, is that it is a bit “peculiar”. I like that, maybe because I’m a bit peculiar too. I’ve always felt like the odd one out. Now I feel I’m among “my” people, and the things that really contributes to this is the collection of Amazon Leadership Principles – they are not just a sign on a wall, but something used every day at Amazon. Some of these principles represent things that are inside a person (call it values if you will) and some are learnt behaviours. As a result, there’s a common sense of purpose, a common language, a virtual shorthand that unites everyone.

100 days down. Onwards to the next 100 days, and then the next after that. But, as they say at Amazon, it’s always Day One!