Honoring Military Spouse Day – A Q&A with Therese Brown
Amazon offers learning programs specially created for veterans – and now military spouses – to help them gain new skills and access to technical, high-paying jobs. This includes the expansion of Amazon Technical Apprenticeship to include military spouses – an upskilling initiative designed to empower military spouses and veterans who want to move into technical careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
In honor of Military Spouse Day, we spent time with Therese Brown, a solutions architect apprentice at Amazon Web Services (AWS), to learn more about what attracted her to join more than 3,000 military spouses at Amazon.
About Therese Brown
Therese is a military spouse of an active duty Special Operations serviceman, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington (WA). The couple was stationed overseas prior to moving to WA in late 2017. Therese spent the first 12 years of her career at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia headquarters in Sydney working predominantly in the treasury division as an interest rates derivatives trader, business manager, and other roles responsible for delivering large-scale strategy, technology, and regulatory projects.
When did you start working for Amazon?
I am a very recent new starter and joined Amazon on March 11, 2019.
What attracted you to a career at Amazon?
The customer centricity first attracted me to Amazon. Having come from a career in banking and finance, I have a deep curiosity about how customer centricity operates in a different industry, and why this is so imperative to the success of Amazon. The scale of Amazon and its impact around the globe was another thing I looked at, as well as the culture. After studying the leadership principles, I instantly believed that they strongly correlate with my career values. At Amazon, I feel like I have the opportunity to make history. I draw energy in delivering value and taking action, and to be able to do this at Amazon will definitely be a career-defining experience for me.
What is your current role?
I am a solutions architect apprentice at AWS, under the Military Veteran and Spouse Apprenticeship Program – an accelerated career development program aimed at advancing technical and business skills, where I can help customers design flexible and resilient cloud-based solutions.
What have been the challenges in your career as it relates to being a military spouse? How did you overcome those challenges?
I have had to build new networks in various locations after changing duty stations. I overcame this constant change by keeping in close contact with existing networks for introductions to other professionals, volunteering opportunities, and conferences. I also built the courage and confidence to put myself out there and network with professionals I have not yet met. I continue to leverage the tools and services provided by fantastic military-focused nonprofit organizations such as Work of Honor. I acknowledge what is within and outside of my control and adjust my career expectations accordingly, without losing sight of my ultimate career goals.
One specific challenge is that my husband is frequently deployed. Our family spans states and continents, far away from where we are/were stationed. However, my husband and I are very fortunate that our parents are willing to travel to us or vice versa during deployments, to lend me a helping hand when juggling my work, study, and personal commitments.
I also often reach out to my military family community and local friends when in need, and have sourced a good daycare to care for my daughter while I am at work. I practice time management religiously and try my best to plan ahead for life and work tasks that are within my control.
How has Amazon as an organization been supportive of your career goals? Were there any people or programs within Amazon that helped you make that transition into your current role?
I am grateful that Amazon has given me the opportunity to make a career pivot into the technology industry through the Solutions Architect Military Apprenticeship program. Gen Harrison-Doss, Alex Figueroa, Christina Virgini, Tracy Hughes, and Lia Vader provided strong support and helped me transition into my current role, along with various Aussies at Amazon who I’ve connected with to ensure I was making the right decision to apply for a role here.
What would your advice be to another military spouse who is looking at opportunities at Amazon?
Visit the Amazon Military and Military Spouse websites. Study the Amazon Leadership Principles and Jeff’s shareholder letters to get a good feel of the company’s vision and values. Don’t be shy to send Inmail to Amazon professionals on LinkedIn – you never know where it will land you! And finally, finesse your elevator pitch (plenty of handy resources searchable online), attend job fairs (on base or otherwise), and introduce yourself to the Amazon recruiters present. Best of luck!
Tune into our podcasts to hear more about what life is like at AWS for military veterans:
Vet brings military to tech at AWS: AWS Military Recruiting leader and former army officer, Tammy Thieman, shares what ownership at AWS means in the context of “success belongs to the unit, failure belongs to the leader,” what a successful candidate can expect from AWS, and how she finds balance when things get tough.
To our veterans, our teammates: Jason Zeruto, a 20-year Army vet and AWS business development rep for the Department of Defense, shares his experience transitioning to the corporate world from the military. Hear his take on how the Army instills ownership and customer obsession, what it means to take a bite of humble pie, and more.