“Alexa, what is the weather today?”
“Hey Alexa, play some 80s classics.”
“Alexa, how many tech products does Amazon have?”
Amazon, the largest online retailer and AI assistant producer, is a part of most people’s daily lives. Hundreds of millions of people shop on their dot com, while countless others watch TV, request information, surveil their front doors and enjoy many other services with Amazon’s tech products. Behind the scenes of these tools that yield efficiency and convenience, business leaders are hard at work developing them. In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, Roshni Naidu, Wharton MBA ’18 and senior technical product manager at Amazon, shares her story of heading to business school, and how her experience prepared her to return to Amazon in product development.
Roshni Naidu, Wharton MBA ’18, Senior Technical Product Manager at Amazon
Hometown: Albany, NY
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Biochemistry/Biophysics
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: Wharton School of Business, 2018, Management
Pre-MBA Work Experience: 4 years, tech
Post-MBA Work Experience: 1.5 years, tech
Why did you choose to attend business school?
I essentially went for the network – to learn from and about others’ personal and professional life experiences. My goal is to start something of my own someday and so I wanted to form genuine friendships with potential future corporate leaders.
Why Wharton? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Given my reason for attending business school (forming connections), I wanted a school with a lot of flexibility in the business school experience. Wharton is one of the few top-ranked programs that has immense flexibility in their academic curriculum and student life. It has many combinations of courses that a student can take to fulfill concentration requirements so you’re freer to take courses that are in-line with your business school goals and it has clubs to match almost every student interest (I was personally President of Comedy Club and a boxer in the Annual Fight Night charity boxing competition).
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
Wharton pushed me to think big and find creative solutions to problems presented in coursework and student life activities. This ability to think out-of-the-box helps me everyday to become a better technical product manager – a role that requires constant creativity to influence others towards a vision and think of novel product ideas.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned as a product manager at Square and as a Biz Ops & Strategy Associate at Splunk. While doing two internships in entirely different job functions was exhausting, it helped cement my decision to pursue product management post-MBA.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I was fortunate to receive quite a few full-time offers out of business school, however I chose to return to my pre-MBA employer – Amazon – as a Senior Technical Product Manager. I chose Amazon because I wanted to have immense product impact immediately after business school and thus wanted to work in a company where the culture and strategic direction of the company was incredibly strong (since both largely determine how big a product can grow).
Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Apply to and study for a wide variety of internship opportunities. It’s a definitely tiring strategy but allows you to pick up skills and solidify concepts really quickly. For example, even though I decided to not pursue consulting for my internship, just studying for the interview taught me to break down complex problems into something more manageable. On the flip side, studying for the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry strengthened my grasp of brand marketing.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would be much more open to enterprise internship recruiting since these roles always ended up being the most interesting in terms of company, role and scope (one person got an internship and then an offer for Tesla; however they only got the internship offer in May).
–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
None. Since I worked at Amazon pre-MBA and mentored a few MBA students before business school, I was pretty well-versed in the process.
–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
I have a slightly different take on this question: my answer is more around the best piece of advice I got during my MBA. During my pre-MBA internship at Proctor & Gamble, a recent MBA grad gave me amazing advice: write down a list of goals you want to achieve while in business school and stick it in a place where you’ll see it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Between student life activities, recruiting and academics, there is so much happening all the time that it’s easy to forget your goals and get lost in the general exciting bustle of business school. 2 years is a surprisingly short amount of time so it’s important to be intentional about which activities you decide to pursue.
What’s the best thing about working for your current employer?
The scale, impact and the technology behind the product that I currently manage. Working at a large company can be difficult because of the layers and inevitable bureaucracy but the impact of the products we get to manage is pretty unbelievable.