What is your current job and what are your day-to-day responsibilities?
I’m an executive in the Kindle Content business at Amazon. I jokingly tell people that I get to play with digital books all day. I’m responsible for three areas in Kindle Content: first, our content quality program, which makes sure that the digital books that customers purchase are formatted well, free of typos, and have catalog data that helps customers discover and buy books they love.
Second, a set of content selection programs, which grow the books that are available for customers to purchase. Last, international expansion. My team owns roadmap planning and execution around which languages and countries Kindle should support next. I’ve been with Amazon for eight years, all in Kindle, and look forward to many more.
How did your time at the UA prepare you to make networking connections and be successful as a professional?
My undergraduate time at the UA did not prepare me very well to network, but the university was different then and I was not the most clued in on the importance of building professional relationships. It’s clear that the university’s approach to career services has come a long way since then, and students have much better access to advice, information and employers. Getting involved again with Eller has been a terrific experience, both from a personal development point of view and in meeting and reconnecting with other alumni.
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
The one that I’ve used the most is something that felt tactical at the time but turned out to be super powerful. In my third year out of the UA, a manager I worked with (Juan Simpson) was listening to me complain about a pretty tedious project I was working on. Instead of criticizing me, he simply said, “John, in my whole career I’ve never regretted taking the time to do something really well and learn the most from it, because you never know when the knowledge will be useful.”
He was right — within a short number of months, I used knowledge from that project to solve a different problem. Over time, I’ve trained myself to get excited about diving into something new and learning. I believe this attitude has really helped me to keep growing to this day.