Amazon Delivers End-of-Semester Business Showcase

Neil Gwynne, General Manager of the Amazon Augusta Fulfillment Center, speaks to students about the operations at the recently-opened facility.

Stories of rapid advancement within a growing company was presented to students during the final Business Showcase of the spring semester.

Four representatives from Amazon’s Augusta Fulfillment Center, located in Appling, spoke to nearly 50 students in the Dr. Roscoe Williams Ballroom in the Jaguar Student Activities Center on Apr. 14.

“When fully stocked, our building can carry 30 million plus items,” explained Neil Gwynne, general manager of the Augusta center. “Instead of shelves, we have Amazon robots that bring shelving units to the person who is going to pick those items out.”

Gwynne said there are approximately 4,000 robots in his 450,000 square foot building, spread over five floors. The automation doesn’t stifle the hiring, he explained, but makes it possible to hire more people and ship more from the building.

“People challenge me all the time; aren’t you killing the small business of America? Actually, we’re growing the small business of America. We allow a small business in Augusta to do business all over the U.S.,” Gwynne said.

Student questions covered the skill sets needed to work for Amazon to the number of employees being added to the Appling facility. Students also asked each representative to describe a typical workday.

Aria Ghamati, a newly promoted area manager, said his workday is dominated by making sure he has a balance of packers and sorters in his area and spending time with his mentees and on administrative tasks.

Jason Beck, human resources manager, spends a lot of his time in meetings with labor planning, supervisors on projects, or checking his HR team. Harry White, senior operations manager, said most of his day is spent in planning and execution in an office with the rest of the day on the floor observing the inbound products.

In terms of skills from college graduates that would make for a successful Amazon employee, Ghamati cited experience in the service industry or team sports. “Being able to deep-dive, knowing analytics is also important.”

Gwynne said Amazon should be expanding further in the Augusta area by opening delivery stations, which may result in some customers getting same-day delivery.

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Written by
Tim Rausch

Tim Rausch is a Communication Strategist in the Dean's Office at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

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