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Real Humans of Amazon: Tyler Simpson Tyson, HBS MBA ’20, Senior Product Manager

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From HBS to Facebook to Amazon, Tyler Simpson Tyson recounts her professional journey in this edition of Real Humans: Alumni. Simpson Tyson explains how she was drawn to Harvard Business School by its case study method, which requires more participation than traditional lectures and challenges students with real-world scenarios. Read her story below to find out how HBS prepared her to work at Facebook and then Amazon.

Tyler Simpson Tyson, HBS MBA ’20, Senior Product Manager (Technical) at Amazon Live

Age: 32
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Undergraduate Institution and MajorColumbia University, Psychology, 2013
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Global Partnerships, National Basketball Association, 5, Sports
Post-MBA Work Experience: Product Marketing Manager, Facebook Video @ Facebook, 2 years, Tech/Social media; Senior Product Manager- Technical, Amazon Live @ Amazon, 1.5, Tech/commerce

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I chose to attend business school to develop my technical acumen, enhance my understanding of finance, and explore new professional interests. Coming from the sports and marketing industry, I had an extensive career in sponsorship and marketing, but felt that I needed a stronger understanding of the startup and venture landscape if I were to ever pivot to working in tech or becoming an entrepreneur. My first year of classes entailed developing business fundamentals such as leadership, finance, marketing, economics, and operations. In my second year, I took classes that helped me understand how to build a viable tech venture, develop my product management skills, and support and empower a diverse team.

Why HBS? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I was drawn to the way HBS facilitated learning through the case method. In college, I often found it challenging to stay focused in traditional lectures, but the case method forces you to participate in the learning process and challenges students to come prepared to each class. It also mimics real-world scenarios where you may be expected to contribute to business decisions on topics in which you’re not well versed. 

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
Business school gave me the lexicon to effectively communicate with other business leaders. In school I gained a better understanding of the challenges business leaders face, how they navigated those challenges, and how they used their unique skills to create and bring to market solutions.  

What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned at Facebook as a Product Marketing Manager (PMM) on the Facebook Video team. I rejoined Facebook the summer after graduation as a PMM on the Facebook live team. After ~2 years, I joined Amazon as a Senior Product Manager (Technical) on the Amazon Live team, leading personalization and ML modeling for Amazon live experience. 

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I was really drawn to Amazon’s leadership principles. As an employee, it’s even more clear now how important those principles are in guiding everyone’s actions and keeping us focused on serving customers. In a role with high friction, these principles provide the right level of guidance to ensure we prioritize the right investments. 

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Interview prep far before I had interviews in queue. I believe one of the key reasons I’ve landed most of the jobs I’ve secured is because I’m a good interviewer, which is often a reflection of how I’ll show up at work. 

–One thing you would change or do differently as part of the job search?
I would’ve explored a wider range of opportunities. I think I had tunnel vision for a specific type of role, and while it worked out, I think I may have also been excited by other opportunities had I considered them. 

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
At Amazon, you interview with someone not on your team called a ‘bar raiser.’ That interview is important because it ensures that the incoming cohort of employees meets a company-wide standard of excellence. 

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Bet on yourself, take a chance, sit in the discomfort and see where your ambition can take you. 

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.