On Friday 11th January, we were delighted to host Rob Merry (Old Cranleighan, 1 North). Speaking to the Lower Sixth Form and Upper Sixth Form Business Studies pupils, he briefly spoke about his experiences at Deloitte Consulting, before talking more fully about what it is like working for one the most valuable companies in the world – Amazon. 

Rob brought the audience quickly up to speed regarding the companies’ core offerings, before providing some fascinating insights into how Amazon operates in order to continually innovate on behalf of customers. Pupils were able to gain an appreciation of the firm’s ‘absolute customer focus’ approach, which drives the ‘virtuous circle fly-wheel’. Through this, students were able to see how the ‘fail-fast’ approach has led to ground-breaking innovations such as ‘one-click’, ‘consumer reviews’ and ‘just walk out’ technology, which is currently being harnessed by the new Amazon Go stores.

In addition, Rob explained how the company was not afraid to be maverick in its approach, through use of ‘narratives’ (rather than PowerPoint) and ‘two pizza teams’ to determine the maximum sizing of its departments. He also provided some insights into how legendary Jeff Bezos operates, and his entrepreneurial and managerial characteristics that have been crucial in driving the remarkable success of the business.

There were some tough questions from the floor regarding the various criticisms that have been levelled at Amazon over the years, and Rob dealt with these in refreshingly candid fashion, before going on to talk about his current key area of focus – Prime Wardrobe. The talk was hugely useful to the pupils, as it helped bring to life many of the concepts studied on the course so far, as well as highlighting that Business Studies is an ever-evolving, dynamic subject, with great rewards on offer for those who can successfully innovate. Whether students go on to build their own enterprises, study the subject further at university, or simply work in a business later in life, there were some crucial learnings to be taken from this talk.