The team of people that make innovation possible

Scott Wharton - General Manager at Amazon’s  Milton Keynes fulfilment centre
Scott Wharton - General Manager at Amazon’s Milton Keynes fulfilment centre

Everyone knows the Amazon name, but few know about the company behind the boxes. How would you describe Amazon’s corporate culture?

Operations is at the heart of the Amazon business. We’ve a talented bunch of people that work here, from age 18 to 70+, working in roles from customer fulfilment to operations and area managers and we’ve super smart engineers and professionals in safety, IT, HR and finance. Regardless of role, each Amazonian is completely focused on working hard, having fun, and making history. Amazonians are leaders who create, build and take ownership to deliver for customers every day, and we have a lot of fun doing it. This ethos really shines through when you visit our buildings and meet our people. From Summer BBQs, to ice-skating trips to team football matches to live performers in the fulfilment centre, my team come up with some brilliant ideas of how they like to celebrate the work we do!

What role does technology play behind the scenes?

What we do here is actually quite simple, we receive inventory from vendors and small and medium sized businesses, we stow the items ready for customers to order and we pick, pack and ship those items to the customer – but all this takes some of the best people, the brightest minds, a bunch of crazy calculations and innovative technology. Technology helps our team to do their job from knowing where in the building to find the item a customer has ordered to selecting the right size box to ship the order to you, to making sure the parcel reaches you on time. Come and visit Amazon one of our FC’s on a Public Tour to see the magic behind the scenes for yourself! Visit Amazon.co.uk/fctours to register.

Can you see an autonomous future for Amazon, or will people always play a role in fulfillment?

Technology plays a vital role in what we do and how we deliver for customers at the speed they expect, but it’s a symphony of humans and machines working together that makes this possible and that will continue.

Fulfilment centres recruit on a massive scale, what would you say is the biggest challenge in finding the right people?

Everyone at Amazon is a leader whatever their role and we need leaders who collaborate, individuals that want to own the outcome, problem solvers that really want to solve, people who can dream in scale, creative thinkers who increase efficiencies. It’s the team of people who make innovation possible. Right now in Bedfordshire we’re recruiting for more than 100 managerial roles in Finance, HR, Safety and Engineering and in our building we have Operations Managers, apprentices and team members who pick, pack and ship customer orders, so there’s really something for everyone whatever their experience, background or career aspirations. Visit amazon.jobs

How important is it for you to be based in Milton Keynes?

Amazon has a number of operations facilities in Milton Keynes and the Bedfordshire area, it’s a great location for us with excellent transport and business links to London and across the country. I’m really proud that Amazon employ thousands of people in the local area and enjoy working alongside an amazing local team who deliver a fantastic level of service for our customers.

How many employees do you have?

We’ve more than 1,000 permanent employees working at this site and we take on many more temporary and seasonal employees as we move into our busy Christmas period. Employees receive competitive pay and comprehensive benefits, with pay starting at £10.50 for all full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees. There’s also a comprehensive benefits package, including private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection, subsidised meals and an employee discount – which combined are worth more than £700 annually – as well as a company pension plan. What I’m most proud of though is that Amazon also offers employees an innovative programme called Career Choice. We want everyone at Amazon to pursue their dream job and that’s why we’re offering funded training courses in a range of interests and industries. Career Choice pre-pays 95% of tuition and associated fees for nationally recognised courses, up to £8,000 over four years meaning people like Jennifer, in my team whose dream is to be a HGV driver, can make this a reality.

What year did you open?

Amazon first opened in Milton Keynes back in 2000. Lots has changed since then in many ways, though some things are quite the same, like Janhangir, Gilbert, Andrea and Ricky to name just a few, who I’m proud to say are still with us, working hard, having fun, making history!