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Real Humans of Amazon: Serhat Pakyuz, LBS ’17, Senior Program Manager – Air Strategy

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The business of e-commerce shows no signs of slowing down, and customers demand that delivery services speed up.  While fleets of trucks support the supply chain and drone delivery experiments carry on, cargo planes zig zag the country to ensure Amazon buyers receive their orders in record time.  Amazon branded a cargo plane for the first time in 2016, and claims to be on track to operate 70 planes out of more than 20 U.S. gateways by next year.  What began as Prime Air now operates under the name Amazon Air, where our featured alumnus in this edition of Real Humans: Alumni works as a senior program manager.  Serhat Pakyuz, London Business School MBA ’17, wanted to change his location, industry and function–read on for how the diverse, international MBA helped him to do so.

Serhat Pakyuz, LBS MBA ’17, Senior Program Manager – Air Strategy – at Amazon

Age: 35

Serhat Pakyuz, LBS MBA ’17, Senior Program Manager – Air Strategy – at Amazon

Hometown: Wollongong, Australia
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Wollongong, Commerce Major
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): London Business School, MBA 2017
Pre-MBA Work Experience: 7 years
Post-MBA Work Experience: 2.5 years

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I wanted to make the triple jump – change location, industry and function. I couldn’t visualize a path to achieve all three without taking a major discount on my career experiences.

Why London Business School? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The people and the location. I felt that the people from LBS were just like me: international, forward-thinking and grounded. The location was also a primary factor and I don’t just mean being in London. The iconic John Nash architecture on the backdrop of Regent’s Park is a majestic setting for our campus. Of course, being 15 minutes from the largest organizations in the world was especially appealing during recruiting. Coffee chats, office visits and presentations from senior executives were all made easier as a result of the amazing location.

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
I think interpersonal development was key. I am only realizing now how important it is to double-down on your interactions with people as a leader: to listen, take perspective and learn. The MBA provided me with an opportunity to understand my gaps as a leader so I could develop myself once I re-entered the workforce. Transforming yourself can be difficult to do when you are under live-fire.

What was your internship during business school?  How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I sampled three career options throughout my MBA, taking on internships at a strategy consulting firm and a FinTech start-up, before taking on a full-time role as part of the MBA leadership programme at Amazon.

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I discovered that Amazon was absolutely the right place for me as it combined the intellectual challenges of consulting work with the informality of a start-up environment. We move fast, build cool things for our customers and have fun whilst doing it.

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Keep an open mind to trying/sampling career options throughout the MBA. Remember that there are multiple paths to the same doorstep.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I lived with my family during the MBA and, if I could do it again, I probably would have stretched myself to live with some classmates, especially in the first year. I had an amazing MBA experience, but I think this would have made it even better.

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
I was surprised by how much preparation it takes to survive the Amazon interview process. There is a great level of detail required in answering interview questions at the MBA-entry level.

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Maybe worry less about the financial return in the short-term and travelled even more! The MBA is a once in a lifetime experience and if you try to financially rationalize too many decisions during the program, then you may end up killing all the fun. One rarely looks back and regrets those amazing travel experiences with friends.

What’s the best thing about working for your current employer?
I work with really smart people, have the freedom to innovate and we have fun doing it!

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.