Posts Tagged ‘Start-up’

12 November 2013

“Do what you love in a job that makes you learn, and you’ll be doing the right job.”

When meeting Marc Onetto, ex-Vice President of Worldwide Operations and Customer Service at the Global giant that is Amazon, it’s hard not to feel just a little bit inspired. I admit I was nervous, facing  a man whose career has been nothing short of illustrious with only a crumpled sheet of handwritten questions to hand.

Prior to joining Amazon in 2006, Marc Onetto was Executive Vice President of Worldwide Operations for Solectron, a $12 billion leader in electronics manufacturing and integrated supply-chain service, where he has been credited with leading the company turnaround in 2003. He has also been awarded the « Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite », a French decoration given to mark his contribution to Franco-American business collaboration – it’s safe to say the man knows his business.

But within seconds of speaking to him, you forget all that. With an opening line of “So you’re English? My wife is English; that’s how I learnt that the customer is always right – she is too!” it’s pretty hard to feel intimidated.

Organized by Michel Safars, Associate Professor of Strategy & Business Policy at HEC Paris MBA, the title of Onetto’s talk – prepared as part of the launch of the newly redesigned Entrepreneurship track at HEC MBA (more on that soon!) – was “@ Amazon it is Still Day One,” a name Marc was only too happy to elaborate on:

“The idea of it still being Day One at Amazon signifies our desire to keep the “start-up” mind-set; we want to have the same spirit as a small company, despite being a larger company. When you’re a start-up, the only thing that matters is that you are providing a good product or service to your customers.”


… And that pretty sums up the content of Onetto’s presentation; Amazon still places the emphasis on customer satisfaction above all else – “This is not the chicken and the egg;  the customer always comes first” – and still holds the customer in the same esteem as it did the day Jeff Bezos first sold a book from his original garage headquarters. Onetto put this ‘customer-centricity’ down as a key factor in Amazon’s overwhelming success (“you don’t Google a product anymore, you Amazon it”) alongside Amazon’s dedication to the ‘3 Golden Rules of e-commerce’:

  1. Good price
  2. Good product selection
  3. Good delivery

Pretty simple, right? The third and final of these 3 rules was the one that Onetto was charged with during his 6 year stint at Amazon. As Vice President of Worldwide Operations, he was responsible for ensuring that people’s parcels arrived when they were meant to, in good condition and without hassle to the customer; or, in Onetto’s words, ensuring that Amazon could “walk the talk” by making sure that Amazon continued to deliver on its promises to customers. Obviously his job required a lot of logistics, a lot of metrics, as millions of parcels are sent across the world and delivered by Amazon every day, but Onetto insists that he always had the customer’s interests at heart, rather than opting for the easiest possible option to hand.

There is something in the whole “Day One” mind-set which seems amazingly simple; serve your customers well, and they will continue to give you their business in return. Sticking with the basic principles of start-up business certainly seems to have worked for Jeff Bezos, and no one can argue with the methodology of customer-centricity, but surely there must be something else, another secret to Amazon’s success?

“Don’t bow to the latest fad, take a long term view. Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it; that’s how you become average.”

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