NDSU Alumni Career Advice

Jordan Boe
Degree: Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Chemistry
Position: Buyer/Vendor Manager
Company: Amazon
Location: Seattle, WA

Why did you choose to work for Amazon?

I was recruited by a director I worked with while employed by Target HQ in Minneapolis. Amazon offered a bump in compensation and the opportunity to work at one of the world’s top companies. It was also a goal of mine to move to the west coast, since I had lived my entire life in the midwest up to that point.

What do you love most about Amazon?

Ownership of my business. I’m basically the CEO of my own category. All product placement, marketing, financial reporting, and promotional activity falls on me.

Describe your job and responsibilities.

I’m a Vendor Manager on the Watches team. The job entails just that – managing vendors. I make sure we are meeting or exceeding revenue and profitability goals while enhancing customer-facing site features to make Watches easier to shop on Amazon.

What skills are necessary for your position?

I would say relentless prioritization and organization. There is always a list of 100 different things that need to be done in a given week. Double that in quarter 4. Making sure I’m picking the 5 things I absolutely need to get done every week and making sure I’m organized to track completion and success metrics is essential in order to drive my business. The 80/20 rule applies here just like it does in nearly every aspect of life.

What is the most challenging part of your job, and how do you overcome it?

Coming to Amazon, I didn’t know a lot about online retail or the tech industry, so I would say jumping right into the #1 e-commerce company on Earth was a big challenge. As an experienced hire, there is little formal training to guide you at the start. Grounding myself in the business and getting up-to-speed was my biggest initial challenge. Sitting down at my desk on day 1, I was given a phone number and was told I would be flying to New York City in five days to lead meetings with my new vendors. Amazon is constantly changing and evolving. A person needs to get comfortable being uncomfortable. I would saw that is the most challenging part.

What is an average work day like for you?

A typical day is spent diving deep into my business to analyze what is going on. What promotions are working and which aren’t? What products are customers searching for that I should work with my vendors to launch. Amazon is a retail/tech company hybrid and there is no shortage of numbers to look at. One of our core leadership principles is “Dives Deep.” I spend a significant amount of time digging into what is going on with my business so I know exactly what steps to take to drive future success. Beyond that, I spend a lot of time negotiating with vendors on products and deals and working with internal partners on marketing strategies to put my Watches in front of customers.

What advice do you have for someone aspiring to work in your field?

Always make sure you put your best foot forward.  When starting at a new company or in a new role, devote time upfront to ground yourself in learning the key inputs to the business and work hard to understand key drivers.  This will pay dividends in your job, professional development, and will open up connections down the road.  It pays to put in the work necessary upfront to build rapport and trust with colleagues.  It is very, very hard to built trust if you start a new venture off on the wrong foot.

What’s the best way to network with people in your field?

Make sure you’re connecting on LinkedIn.  It never hurts to randomly add someone you come across in a field you’re interested in and introduce yourself via an email.

What is one career-related tip you have for students?

2 tips.  Network and be open to new experiences, whether that’s in a different field or area of the country.  There is a lot of opportunity out there.

By Jamie Tait
Jamie Tait Events Assistant & Marketing Coordinator Jamie Tait