Elia Vasquez photographed at the BFI1 robotics development hub and fulfillment center

Elia Vasquez photographed at the BFI1 robotics development hub and fulfillment center in Sumner. “You are your own biggest asset in your life, invest in yourself by taking advantage of the career growth opportunities offered," she said. "It might be a process but it's worth it.” (Photo courtesy of Amazon)

Amazon may be known primarily as a global leader in e-commerce and technological innovation. But the company is committed to serving its employees as well as its customers. Through strongly rooted values including mentorship, career progression, and innovation, the company helps employees find their way to advancement, whatever path they may take. 

A culture of leadership and growth

Amazon’s commitment to its employees begins with its leadership principles. Much more than corporate slogans, these values form the essence of the company's culture, playing a role in  everything from decision-making to team dynamics. Rooted in values like "Customer Obsession," "Ownership," "Invent and Simplify," and "Deliver Results," these principles demonstrate a holistic approach to business, emphasizing customer satisfaction, innovation, and tangible outcomes.

"The real success lies in building teams that embody Amazon's 16 Leadership Principles,” said Bruno Arnal, general manager at PAE2, Amazon's largest, most advanced robotics fulfillment center in Washington that op. “The joy and fulfillment of uplifting and empowering those around you are unparalleled."

For quality assurance engineer Elia Velasquez, Amazon’s values are what facilitated her own career growth within the company. “By aligning with Amazon's leadership principles, I've seen the profound effect of upskilling and the immense satisfaction that comes from personal and professional growth,” she said.

Embracing challenges, fostering aspiration

According to current employees, Amazon's internal infrastructure is what  facilitates growth for employees. With numerous roles opening, it allows employees to explore their options, challenge themselves, and take steps toward their aspirations. "It's deeply rewarding as a leader to empower individuals to pursue their passions daily," said Arnal.

The company’s Career Choice program epitomizes this commitment, offering employees pre-paid college tuition and training certifications. Since the program launched in 2012, there have been 150,000 employees who have gone back to school, further their education, or learning new skills via the benefit. 75% of the Seattle-based participants have utilized the pre-paid college benefit, with 20% venturing into industry-specific pathways such as technology, which is the most sought-after.

Innovation for the future

At Amazon, innovation is not limited to e-commerce. The company’s heavy investments in research, especially in areas like robotics and artificial intelligence, showcase its forward-thinking approach. Facilities like BFI1 in Sumner, Washington, are a testament to this work. BFI1 is an Amazon robotics development hub and fulfillment center that officially opened in 2011. The 480,000-square foot facility brings together research and development labs, as well as a wide range of robotics and technology testing. It's where the company tests new products before deploying them in the field and at scale. The only facility of its kind within Amazon’s network, BFI1 seeks to revolutionize traditional operating methods and enhance efficiency while reducing impacts on the environment. For example, Velasquez just returned from a six month assignment at the facility where her team live field-tested one of the company’s new sustainability packaging innovations.

These values are on display at PAE2 in Arlington. The state’s largest Amazon fulfillment center, PAE2 is colossal, sprawling over 2.8 million square feet, and using advanced robotics technology to the paradigm of modern logistics. “Launching a facility like PAE2 is a thrilling experience, right from scratch,” said Arnal. “It's an embodiment of Amazon’s vision for the future.”

For Arnal, a team of dedicated talent that’s been developed in-house is key to enacting that future.

Bruno Arnal smiles in an Amazon vest

“It's deeply rewarding as a leader to empower individuals to pursue their passions daily," said Bruno Arnal, PAE2’s general manager. (Photo courtesy of Amazon)

Journeys that inspire: Elia, Jessica and Jose

Developing teams like Arnal’s takes time, and is powered by Amazon's commitment to helping its employees grow. This commitment is embodied by stories of success among employees who’ve found new challenges or roles during their time with the company.

Velasquez is one of them.

Her journey from being a warehouse associate to a quality assurance engineer shows what’s possible with Amazon’s dedication to employee growth. Her upward trajectory, buoyed by one of Amazon's pilot Career Choice upskilling programs in mechatronics, underscores the transformative power of continuous learning. She now advises employees to prioritize self-improvement, urging them to allocate time for their personal growth. "We have a huge amount of resources to learn and help you develop skills,” said Velasquez. “You are your own biggest asset in your life, invest in yourself by taking advantage of the career growth opportunities offered. It might be a process but it's worth it."

Similarly, Jessica Russell, who began as a warehouse associate at age 30 after spending several years as a stay-at-home mom, believes Amazon’s structured interview techniques and culture of problem-solving have helped shape her career path.

In her current role as the manager of customer experience for robotics, mechatronics and sustainable packaging, Russell focuses on all things within Amazon fulfillment and how her team can incorporate the customer perspective into their automation technology development. 

“When I went back to work, I was kind of starting over, you know,” said Russell. “I didn’t have a college degree, only high school, so I started as a warehouse associate, which I really actually loved.”

At Amazon, she found a unique fit among a company culture that deemphasizes employees’ formal education in favor of skills and passion. “For me, operations is like a puzzle,” said Russell. “It’s a new puzzle every time, and you start to put it back together.”

Russell’s problem-solving attitude and persistence have launched her into a career she never anticipated. She credits improving her interview skills with helping her to grow at the company.

Through the use of structured interview techniques, candidates like Russell are able to better articulate their experiences and skills.

Jose Galvez, a senior operations manager at PAE2, expressed his own gratitude for Amazon’s company culture in helping progress his career. “I started with Amazon in 2013, not knowing if it was a long-term goal for me,” said Galvez. “But it was paved through a lot of leaders that I had, a lot of really amazing leaders that coached me through the ranks.”

For Galvez, curiosity and mentorship were crucial to his trajectory. “Asking questions and the guidance from amazing leaders propelled me through the ranks,” he said.

Like Russell and Velazquez, Galvez also began his Amazon career as an entry-level hourly warehouse associate. By fully embracing the “learn and be curious” Amazon leadership principle, asking questions and seeking the guidance of mentors, Galvez has risen to a senior leadership role.

For Arnal, leadership is a two-way street: Feedback is shared to help employees interview better and to help leaders “become better at leading.” “I've been lucky,” said Arnal. “I'm grateful to be in this position where I can give advice, I can give feedback, I can provide guidance.”

The future of work

For employees like Russell, Galvez and Velasquez, Amazon is more than a global retail giant — it’s a workplace that’s allowed them to explore innovation, learn from mentorship, and pursue career growth with support behind them. Whether through leadership opportunities, upskilling, or state-of-the-art facilities, Amazon is paving the way for the future of work, employees say — and ensuring a more inclusive, dynamic, and prosperous environment for all.