Learning The Amazon Way 

Apurv Kulkarni saw the value Amazon places on customer experience this summer while interning for the e-commerce company. 

Now he’s set to return as a full-time employee.  

Kulkarni will return to Amazon in late January, when he will become an operation manager and part of the company’s pathways program, a five-year operations leadership development program designed to rapidly advance talented masters-level graduates to become general managers, directors, and vice presidents.  

Apurv Kulkarni

Kulkarni credited Northwestern's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program for helping him secure his new role.  

“My time at MEM helped me become a better version of myself,” said Kulkarni, who is on track to graduate from the MEM program in December. “I was able to leverage my learnings and apply them toward my internship.”  

During that internship, Kulkarni saw first-hand Amazon’s culture of putting the customer first. The company touts an environment where every decision is based on what creates a more seamless experience for the customer.  

As an intern, Kulkarni embraced that mindset and helped alter a process at an Amazon sort center that improved key metrics focused on delivery speed and will save the company money. 

Part of what enabled him to have that impact was thanks to how his colleagues viewed him, a reality that played into his decision to join the company full time. 

“I was fortunate enough that everyone treated me like an employee and not an intern,” Kulkarni said. “The support I received from my colleagues, the trust my site leader put in my abilities, the decisions that were taken, and how they had an impact on the customer experience played a crucial role in me accepting a full-time role from Amazon.” 

In that full-time role, Kulkarni will lead teams of 300 to 500 members and will focus on driving improvements in operations processes, assisted by technology and engineering teams across the company. He said MEM’s focus on fostering collaboration meshes nicely with the culture of his new employer.  

MEM gives a wide range of opportunities to work along with different people on projects,” he said. “Such an experience paves a way for developing multiple soft skills in terms of communication, punctuality, accountability, critical thinking, and leadership.”  

That was especially important for Kulkarni, who hails from India and who was unfamiliar with American workplace culture prior to his Amazon experience. He said having an internship as part of the MEM program was one of the key factors he used when deciding to become a part of the cohort.  

The makeup of the cohort itself — a collection of talented students from varied backgrounds — also played a major role. 

“Northwestern is an ocean full of resources,” Kulkarni said. “I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by my classmates and had the pleasure of knowing a few of them closely. I learned from their experiences and that helped me gain new insights.” 

McCormick News Article