At work with Alexa: Meet Amazon’s Praew Hemrathiran
“Hey Alexa, play Cardi B.”
“Alexa, find the best pizza nearby.”
From ordering a ride home on Lyft to playing your favorite music, Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant helps people complete daily tasks using only their voice.
Praew Hemrathiran ’16, a recruiting coordinator for the Alexa Experiences & Devices team at Amazon, has seen the amount of Alexa users increase exponentially since she started there over a year ago.
Praew says Amazon treats her team like a startup within the larger company simply due to its newness and fast-paced growth.
“We are in charge of Alexa’s voice and how consumers interact with the technology,” she says. “Day to day, I’m talking to candidates for our team and coordinating all the interviews for positions including software engineers, product managers, business developers; pretty much all the positions within Alexa because we are growing so fast.”
In an effort to test and expand features for Alexa, Praew says her team is working on improving accessibility. Customer obsession, one of Amazon’s leadership principles, focuses on customer needs first and then works backwards, which Praew sees as their greatest strength.
Customer obsession, one of Amazon’s leadership principles, focuses on customer needs first and then works backwards, which Praew sees as their greatest strength.
While studying business marketing at SPU, Praew worked as a sales associate at Nordstrom and had the opportunity to do marketing research with Central Pattana Public Company Limited in Thailand where she is from, during the summer of 2014. After graduation, she worked at Microsoft as a candidate experience coordinator and Where Are You From? (WAYF) Clothing as a social media specialist.
Knowing she wanted a change from two years of sales experience at Nordstrom, Praew networked intentionally and landed the job at Microsoft as a candidate experience coordinator less than three months after graduating.
Now at Amazon, she is getting to know more than just the candidates for recruitment.
“It’s more about relationship building,” she says.
As an international student, Praew participated in SPU’s Early Connections program. Not only did she feel comfort in meeting other international students before SPU orientation, but her EC program lead, Zyra Gezelle Layaoen, also ended up serving as a recruiting coordinator at Amazon, providing her with yet another connection. Another SPU grad, business and psychology major David Ferguson ’15 (pictured), is also on her team.
I feel like the professors at SPU go beyond teaching us about how to be successful and teach us about a moral compass to guide our thinking.
Praew felt that the student-to-professor ratio at SPU made for an effective learning environment with influential mentors, and helped her get to know her community.
“I feel like the professors at SPU go beyond teaching us about how to be successful and teach us about a moral compass to guide our thinking,” she says. “Learning how to be a good person within the workforce goes a long way and sets us apart from a lot of peers at work.”
With that direction from SPU’s School of Business, Government and Economics engrained in her, Praew feels excited to move around within Amazon, specifically in areas with more candidate sourcing and marketing, such as working on employer brand.
Her role can be challenging and she’s found it important to enter into situations with an open mind. But Praew says it’s exciting to be able to impact so many people’s lives and their experience with the company. “I’m surrounded by such smart people, and I find myself learning something new every day,” she says.