Meet with Ross Kaplan, MBA 2015, and current Account Manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS).
What have you done since you graduated from IUM?
I have worked at Amazon for the last 5+ years in the enterprise cloud division. I have worked in enterprise support, operations management, and, most recently, commercial cloud sales.
Your professional biggest challenges working in such a demanding industry?
It would be best if you were highly flexible and quick at understanding new technology, and more importantly, how it translates into revenue for clients.
The best way to do that is to constantly read new use-cases and real-world applications of new and emerging technology. If you hear about a new technology after a major firm starts using it, you may be behind the curve.
In your opinion, what are the key takeaways from the MBA program you graduated from?
The MBA program helped me think about business in a holistic sense instead of a “silo” sense. I previously worked in finance and only understood finance. The Monaco MBA helped me work at a much more executive level, and my current role requires me to interface with executives of some of the top firms in the world. Executive conversations tend to be wider in nature and less specific than a specialist role. You are generally talking about the business as a whole and need to understand how Product, Marketing, Sales, and other teams within your client’s firm interact with each other and how that drives profit. The MBA helped prepare me for that.
What mindset is needed to succeed in this program?
Flexibility and “boiling down” information quickly to find the key components that matter is crucial. Also, working with people with totally different skillsets than yours is important. Pre-MBA, I considered people with skillsets different from mine to be less useful because I worked in a myopic universe. The MBA helped me understand how people with diverse professional skills can contribute to a company-wide mission.
How did this experience change you personally?
I became far more accommodating of skillsets that were not native to my immediate job function; I also gained the knowledge and confidence to work with departments and teams unrelated to my previous work experience.
What is the best business advice you have ever received?
Start from the customer and work backward—no work motion matters when working with your clients unless it aligns with their goals. The customer’s goals are the starting point of all conversations, always.
Any advice for future IUM students?
Post-graduation, a lot of employers will “ghost” you. It is important to understand that, irrespective of employer reputation, not all are in a great financial position to hire people. They may seem excited to talk to you and interview you. Still, my advice is if the interview process is overly complicated or drawn-out, takes several weeks, involves multiple tests, etc.: look elsewhere. There are plenty of companies in a high growth mode that are fast to hire and want to develop people. The way the company treats you as a recruit is likely to continue after you are hired.
Also – resume/CV grammar in English is absolutely crucial if you apply to an English-speaking firm or role.
I would also take a lower-level role at a well-known international firm 10 times out of 10 over a higher-paying role at a smaller firm or a less-known firm. Why? Growth trajectory. It is possible to get a higher paying role at a smaller firm and stall. At a large, international firm, you will learn transferable skills, network with other large firms, and grow in a long-term career path. Lastly – read the website (news releases) of the company you want to work for.
In addition, read about them in other news sources, like Bloomberg, etc. You need to understand their current problems, growth areas, their competition, the overall sector, and other important information before your interview. Why? You never know the direction the conversation will go, and it is best to understand context outside of simply the job requirements.
Finally, it is also important to “read between the lines” on job requirements. Is this an operations-style job? Is it a support role? Research? Sales? Try to get to the “soul” of the actual job requirements and bring examples of your experience in other roles or situations to show understanding.