This week (March 30-April 2) I attended the 2017 Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Assembly in Seattle Wash. On the final day our keynote speaker was Ty Rogers, Director of Corporate Communications at Amazon in Seattle. Unlike a lot of keynote addresses, Rogers’s presentation was a Q & A session with current PRSSA President Emma Finkbeiner.
During this session Rogers was asked about his career, when he first started at Amazon the Seattle office had between 3,000-5,000 employees; today the Seattle office alone has 33,000 employees and about 350,000 employees total throughout the company. Not only were the number of employees within the company changing drastically within six years but so did the worth of the company going from $48 billion in 2011 to $136 billion currently.
With this company going through such large growth Rogers explained that there is no typical work day, instead he joked and said that his day begins with creating a to-do list and then starting it on fire. One of the most interesting things to me that Rogers said during the session was “If you do not tell your story someone else will,” and this is what happened with Amazon with a New York Times article in 2015. This was one thing that Rogers learned from being with the company at this time, with large growth people want to know not only what you sell but more about who you are and no one within Amazon was doing that so the New York Times did. Rogers talked about how incorrect the information within the article was but it spread because no one else had the truth. When this situation happened Amazon decided to take a step back and analyze the situation. One thing that they did was look at the criticism that they were receiving and determine rather the criticism was right or wrong. If it is right then change, this is something that Rogers explained he has incorporated into his personal life since the innocent.
Going on to other questions within the session Rogers gives some insight and advice:
- To work at Amazon networking is an important aspect but so is doing your homework regarding the company because they have a distinct culture that is not right for everyone
- Do something you are passionate about and relate that to your career even if the two are not closely connected
- There are a lot of good qualities within leaders but not all leaders have the same qualities
- The best leaders have the ability to bring the best out in others
- Take risks otherwise you will never grow
- His favorite part of Seattle is being able to get out if the city and into the mountains quickly
- His first job was a kayak guide
- The best piece of advice he ever received was to “do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it,” deadlines is an important part of life and not everyone stays within their deadlines this will make you stand out
- The last book he read that he would recommend is “Born to Run”
- The last thing he bought off of Amazon were birthday party decorations for his four-year-old daughter’s troll themed birthday party
By Nicole Pilbeam, Account Executive, Olivet Nazarene University’s Communication Department