Life at Amazon Cambridge Development Centre
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Life at Amazon Cambridge Development Centre


I have a always been someone who likes to tinker and I have been told I have real crazy ideas sometimes. But that is actually encouraged here. With Prime Air we are basically looking at how to get packages to our customers, safely by air, within 30 minutes of them ordering. This means totally revolutionising how packages get delivered. This isn’t science fiction, we are making this a reality. My team developed the Japanese text and speech voices for Amazon Alexa and Amazon Polly. The first time I heard Alexa speaking Japanese I was kind of emotional. I think we are developing truly world technology here, not just technology that serves one culture, one country. We are only just scratching the surface here. The coolest thing is when you built a new feature and my mum can see it working on her Alexa, on her desk and I can say, you know: “try this!’. As a scientist the best part is actually being able to see lots of research challenges that you wouldn’t find in a purely academical environment and knowing that when you manage to solve these challenges they will make it into products that are used by millions of people everyday. In our work we collaborate with a number of researchers and scientist from academia. The work that we do does not just affect Alexa but it also advances research in that area. There is a lot of autonomy here and it’s wonderful to see ideas go from inception to product. I feel really lucky to work at Amazon and AWS. In an environment that allows me to continually reinvent myself and experiment on ideas. People might think that these devices are just designed for young people and Millennials but I saw a review from a customer who had bought an Echo for their 80-year-old mother, so that she could maintain contact with the world. And this made me realise that we are developing these devices for everyone. Cambridge is an amazing mix of history, culture and technology and I think that is pretty unique for this country. So, for me it’s not just about being at Amazon, it’s about the richness of the city and the great ideas that people bring here. You don’t need to have a level of seniority to have an idea at Amazon and I think that’s really a central part of Amazon’s success. If you think there is a better way of doing something, you are free to propose it. You just need to say what you think you need to do and you will be given the support to go ahead and do that. To me, that’s refreshing.

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