Serving up success at Amazon: Q&A with Lee Nguyen
Q: In what capacity do you serve in the U.S. military?
A: I have been a member of the U.S. Army Reserve since January 2014.
Q: When did you join Amazon? What is your current position in the company?
A: I joined Amazon in October 2017 as an L4 Loss Prevention Specialist.
Q: How has your military background helped prepare you for your current job?
A: My background has taught me to insist on the highest standards. When I was a cadet, my instructors drilled strict, non-negotiable standards in my head. A life-changing incident occurred during this time: My platoon was in trouble one morning when only half of the formation showed up to physical training. Later that afternoon, my Detachment Commander personally corrected our lack of discipline through a corrective behavior exercise. He made us hill sprint in full gear until he got tired. He then said these words that I can still hear today, “I took an oath to protect the U.S. Army from bad officers.” From then on out, everything I did was to the highest standards, because I owed it to the Army’s greatest assets, its soldiers.
As a support function in Loss Prevention, I have two customers: the internal customers (i.e. Operations/Support) and the external customers. Everything I do at Amazon is at the highest standards because I owe it to my site and the customers.
The military has also taught me the importance of ownership. As a young officer, ownership was my biggest obstacle. I went from a mindset of being told what to do to telling others what needed to be done. My biggest wake-up call was when a group of veteran non-commissioned officers looked at me and said, “Sir, what do you want to do?” I realized they wanted me to make a decision. Being able to make an on-the-spot call, with the pressures of knowing my decision had consequences, really put ownership into perspective.
At Amazon, I am a night shift Loss Prevention Specialist. I am the only LP support for my site at night. I already had that sense of ownership in the military. It really helps here at Amazon.
Q: How does Amazon support your career goals?
A: Amazon is an amazing employer for veterans and those serving in the military. I have never felt bad for taking a military leave of absence. I had planned on resigning my commission by the end of next year because I did not think I would be able to balance being a Loss Prevention Manager and being an Officer in the Reserves. But seeing my other colleagues do it made me realize I can do it with no fear of jeopardizing my career at Amazon.
Q: Amazon is committed to hiring and supporting veterans and military spouses. As a military spouse, how has your wife benefited from the culture here?
A: She really appreciates how Amazon is supportive of my military leave of absence. Amazon allows me to take a leave of absence without utilizing my time off. This really helps with work-life balance. She appreciates that I’m able to advance my military career without the penalty of taking time away from our family. She values the fact that I can use my vacation and PTO hours to actually spend time on family vacations and spontaneous family road trips.
Q: What's the best thing about coming to work each day? Is there a "perk" to your job that might surprise people?
A: The culture. There is a sense of family—the same sense of family that I observe in the military. Everyone is welcoming. Everyone is positive. Managers care. Amazon cares.