Sarah Rhoads, Navy veteran and Regional Director of Operations
Q: What branch did you serve in the military and how long?
After earning a degree in Mechanical Engineering and graduating from the US Naval Academy, I was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy and designated as an F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet pilot upon completion of a rigorous flight training syllabus. I had the honor of serving my country for 12 years on active duty in a number of operational roles worldwide and have continued to serve as a Naval Reservist for the past 5 years.
Q: What is your current role at Amazon and what do you do?
I am a Regional Director of Operations, responsible for the fulfillment of millions of customer orders throughout the United Kingdom, EU, and beyond; the safety, leadership and development of over 10,000 salaried leaders and hourly associates; and the optimization of processes, procedures, and costs in a network of fulfillment centers throughout northwest England and Wales.
Q: How do you think your military experience helps you in your current role at Amazon?
My military experience helped me to understand the importance of fortitude, agility, adaptability, and operating at speed; striving for excellence without arrogance; and knowing how to lead by example and take care of one’s people. These important lessons, which are quite complementary to Amazon’s leadership principles, have helped me on a daily basis in my role at Amazon.
Q: What is one thing you wish you knew before transitioning?
I was a bit surprised when Amazon first contacted me as I had initially focused on pursuing a more traditional path of a transitioning military pilot. I had not particularly considered careers that would still allow me to leverage my strengths and experience and apply them in innovative ways, despite not having direct industry experience. It would have been good to realize earlier in my search the wide aperture of fitting, varied opportunities available to transitioning military veterans, especially at Amazon.
Q: Were you able to use Amazon in a peculiar way in the military?
Whether on a ship, overseas, or even stateside, Amazon provided me the opportunity as a customer to order items and send them to family and friends in the U.S. (or to some also serving in remote locations) to help celebrate significant life events I was missing such as birthdays, weddings, and graduations, was invaluable. Although not necessarily “peculiar”, the ability to demonstrate that I cared, regardless of my location, was very important to me.
Q: Do you have any advice for transitioning service members?
My advice to transitioning service members is this: Never underestimate the fundamental value military service brings to the civilian world. The exceptional challenges, dynamic situations, and leadership experiences are often unique to only those who have served, yet help to form a basic foundation that will lead to a successful career in a multitude of fields and professions.