Alumni Impact

Propelling innovation at Amazon

By Matthew Biddle

Six of the 2016 MS in MIS alumni at Amazon. From left: Rajat Singh, Anusha Amareshbabu, Nisha Jataniya, Priyali Khetrapal, Jaspreet Kaur Chawla and Shruti Bajpai. Photo: Taylor Jashinsky

School of Management alumni leave their mark in more than 80 countries across the globe and in nearly every industry. 

Take e-commerce. Right now, 10 graduates from last year’s Master of Science in Management Information Systems (MS in MIS) class are leading innovation at Amazon, the biggest e-commerce company on the planet.

One of them is Anusha Amareshbabu, MS ’16, a native of Bangalore, India, who worked as a software developer in the telecommunications industry before coming to UB. In the School of Management, she gained business, leadership and analytical skills and shifted her career goals after completing courses in information assurance and digital forensics.

“UB gave me the right path to a career in cybersecurity,” she says. “I became a more confident person, better communicator and better individual, all thanks to UB.”

Today, Amareshbabu works for Amazon as an application security engineer, charged with defending critical retail applications. She consults with the product teams on security architecture and design, identifies vulnerabilities and develops plans to mitigate them, and delivers security training across the company.

“Security is constantly evolving, as cyberattacks get more sophisticated every day,” she says. “That requires me to stay updated on trends, learn advanced security testing and enforce policies that build a safe barrier. It’s exciting.”

Nearly 10 percent of last year’s MS in MIS class earned positions at Amazon — a perfect fit for grads seeking a career in data mining, analytics or cybersecurity, according to Pavankumar Mulgund, clinical assistant professor of management science and systems.

“Every aspect of Amazon’s business is heavily analyzed, requiring candidates who understand the tools and can use them effectively to identify and solve business problems,” says Mulgund, who is also MS in MIS program manager. “Our graduates have those skills, and at Amazon, they get to work on the best technology in the industry and have an immediate impact.”

But, as these alumni learned, obtaining a position at Amazon is not easy, requiring at least one phone interview and several in-person interviews to gauge their technical prowess, past experiences and knowledge of Amazon’s core principles. 

From left: Chawla, Khetrapal, Amareshbabu, Jataniya, Bajpai and Singh. Photo: Taylor Jashinsky

“The best part of working at Amazon is the opportunity to suggest improvements or new products — even if a process is a decade old or a product is a huge hit,” says Rajat Singh, MS ’16, quality assurance engineer on the Amazon Prime team. “Amazon looks for new ideas everywhere and will give you the support to develop your ideas.”

In his role, Singh works on customer retention initiatives and Prime launches in new countries, which he says directly relates to his coursework in database management and systems analysis and design.

Meanwhile, Singh’s wife, Shruti Bajpai, MS ’16, serves as a functional analyst in enterprise resource planning, providing business solutions for Amazon’s accounting and finance customers.

“Things are continuously evolving at Amazon, so we have to push our limits and be more innovative in everything we do,” she says. “The School of Management taught me how to better multitask and manage team dynamics with a diverse group of people.”

Three recent MIS alumni work in data analytics or engineering for Amazon: Jaspreet Kaur Chawla, Pranay Rao and Soumita Sen.

As a data analyst, Chawla creates the pipeline that brings information from tools like Salesforce into the company’s data warehouse to be used for predictive analytics.

“There are many ways to approach and solve problems, so designing the optimal solution on a tight deadline can be an exciting challenge,” she says.

For many alumni, working for Amazon is the realization of a longtime career goal to leverage their technical and business skills to impact customers all over the world.

“Working for Amazon is a dream come true,” says Priyali Khetrapal, MS ’16. “For me, UB was an obvious choice to help achieve that goal, with a high return on investment and multiple tracks to prepare you for a versatile market.”

Khetrapal is one of four 2016 grads who serve as business analysts at Amazon, along with Nisha Jataniya, Shivani Jindal and Chitralekha Rathore.

In human resources, Jindal works on recruiting analytics, including requirement gathering, database setup, data modeling and stakeholder management.

“The culture at Amazon is flexible and allows me to work on any technology I feel will solve a business problem,” Jindal says. “The MS in MIS program was intense, helping me learn quickly and improve my ability to prioritize tasks, which is critical at Amazon.”

For Rathore, a business analyst on the North American customer service team, the skills she learned at the School of Management, particularly in statistics and data mining, have allowed her — like the rest of her cohort — to make positive changes for the organization and its customers.

“My team identifies opportunities for new products or policies that affect the customer experience for Amazon’s largest region,” Rathore says. “We receive the most out-of-the-box questions. It’s exciting to answer them and drive endeavors in the right direction based on data.”

Do you have several School of Management alumni at your organization?

Come together, snap a photo and send it to mgt-editor@buffalo.edu, and we'll share it via social media.