Retail MBA Intern, Fashion Business Division at Amazon Japan
I had a really cool individual project to build a new business for the fashion category on the Amazon.co.jp platform. After analyzing the market, I developed a comprehensive growth strategy and action plan, including business models, fee structure, customer experience, selection, pricing, system, recruiting, merchandising, operation, organization, marketing, financial forecast, milestone, potential risks and contingencies. On the last day of my internship, I presented my recommendations to the head of the company and the VPs. I was allowed a great amount of freedom to manage and progress, and the best part was that my supervisors and colleagues were very open to my suggestions. The responsibility and flexibility I was given on my project was outstanding.
How I benefited from this experience:
It was a fabulous journey that helped me realize how much I have grown and learned at Kellogg. Prior to Kellogg, I was engaged in Disney entertainment business as a project manager in charge of the theme park business strategy and product management at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. Although I am still passionate about the entertainment business, I chose to explore new avenues for the summer internship. Amazon was a great platform for leveraging my personal strengths and past professional experience. It also enabled me to work in a new environment and provided a holistic learning experience.
Additionally, I found that Amazon and Disney have common corporate cultures – key success factors for both companies – even though their business domains are entirely different. Some examples include: 1) Both are extremely customer-centric, 2) they are principle-oriented (i.e. Amazon Tenets and Disney Philosophy), and 3) both embrace “still day one” attitudes, encouraging even the most experienced employees to hold on to the enthusiasm they felt on their first day.
These similarities allowed me to smoothly transition into my role and feel comfortable with Amazon’s culture, even though it differed from my previous work experience. For instance, Amazon prides itself on being “Earth’s most customer-centric company.” From orientation presenters to team members, all people at Amazon emphasized this aspect of being customer-driven. The primary goal of Amazon is to satisfy and improve the experience of its customers and to make its customers happy. This is the same goal that employees at Disney work toward. Customer obsession, which I think is the most important aspect of any consumer-facing business, is a prominent part of Amazon.
Another interesting aspect of Amazon’s professional culture is the openness within the company. People from other teams were very willing to chat about what they were working on. Also, as you know, Amazon is a truly global company. It was easy for me to reach out to and get valuable advice from a manager in charge of the trade-in business in the U.S., as well as an engineer in charge of the competitor monitoring tools in India.
Overall, it was an impactful program with multiple touch points that enabled me to learn more about the company, culture, people and business. I got connected to many MBA alumni from top business schools in the U.S. and Europe and had great support from them throughout my internship. In addition, I talked personally with top management in different functions and roles across Amazon Japan (i.e. the head of Amazon Japan and VPs in Media, Hard-line, Soft-line, Consumables, HR, Finance, Marketing, Operation, etc.), which was incredible. Everyone was approachable, incredibly generous with their time and guidance, and ready to address my queries.
Something I’ve learned at Kellogg that was applicable to this role:
The value of my first year at Kellogg was evident during my internship. From the classes to culture and people, multiple aspects of Kellogg allowed me to have a rewarding internship experience. I want to emphasize that attending Kellogg has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Throughout my internship, I extensively leveraged lessons from various classes taken in my first year at Kellogg, especially what I learned in my marketing classes. Two that were especially beneficial included Marketing Strategy, taught by Professor Hennessy (and by Professor Calkins for three sessions), and Research Methods in Marketing, taught by Professor Maimaran. When I visited Professor Hennessy’s office and sent an email to Professor Calkins before the internship, they were really excited for the project and gave me lots of valuable advice.
To be honest, I was a little nervous to start my summer job since I had neither consulting nor individual project experience. However, these classes equipped me with the tools to form a hypothesis and execute my internship assignment. They also helped me quickly get acclimated. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at how much these classes prepared me for my summer jobs. For example, I have never formulated a business plan for a company “first” or an entry into an “unprecedented” market segment, nor have I ever had to put a plan together without prior examples or other clues to rely on. However, I found that I was more than capable of doing so, once I set clear objectives, created strategic initiatives and actionable tactics, and built a financial model based on reliable assumptions. Thus, my summer internship experiences made me realize just how much I learned during my first year at Kellogg.