When my Amazon journey began in Seattle more than 11 years ago, I never could have imagined my career would see me relocate to the other side of the world (again) and become a director – all while carrying out the important role of mother to a lively five-year-old.

Amazon has been named as a Top Employer 2024 in the UK by the Top Employer Institute. It recognises our commitment to the development and well-being of our employees.

I’m Anjana, and I was born and raised in Southern India before moving to Seattle to develop my career. When I first joined Amazon in 2012, I managed buying and inventory management for several Retail categories. After working in Seattle for a few years, I had the opportunity to move to the UK in 2017 to take on a new role in the logistics department — a completely different area of the business. And I jumped on it.

I always strive to grow and learn from new experiences and working in a new country (and a new department) is a sure-fire way of doing that. But relocating wasn’t as easy as it was the first time around when I’d moved to Seattle. My responsibilities had increased, managing a larger scope and team whilst also getting used to living in a new country. But by seeking out feedback from my co-workers and learning from it, I realised that my unique lived experiences and the things that make me different are actually my strengths.

Today I am still in the UK but my role has evolved again. As Director of Insight & Innovation for UK Retail, I spend my time at Amazon finding new ways to make the customer shopping experience the best it can possibly be. Amazon’s first leadership principle is Customer Obsession, and I’m proud to lead a team that embodies this entirely. 

Five years ago, I also took on another new role: becoming a mother. My son’s birth has transformed my life in so many ways. It has given me more perspective on my personal and professional goals, as I’ve had to focus on prioritising my tasks to take care of this little human who entirely depends on me. I’ve also learnt that setting personal boundaries at work is not only healthy, but essential.

A banner image of Anjana Anand with her son

Supporting other working mothers

I’ve been mentored by many brilliant people — particularly women — as I’ve evolved professionally and personally, especially when I returned from maternity leave. As I look back on it today, I’m very grateful to all the women who were willing to share some of their ‘ugly truths’ about being a woman in leadership and a working mother with me. It made me realise there’s no right or wrong way. This is a message I always remember to pass on to the women I mentor.

As a mentor to other working mothers, I’m very open about the fact that striking the balance between these two important jobs presents unique challenges and can be difficult at times. There is always an internal conflict of whether you’re doing any role to your best ability, but even more so when you’re a working parent.

For me, it’s about taking the time to consider what’s important and keeping my priorities in check. I love both of my roles — being a mum and being at Amazon — so I try to give 100% to both of them, but within the personal boundaries I have set, to avoid wearing myself out.

All I can do is be honest about my experience and give my mentees what my mother gave me when I first moved away from India, and what I will give my son as he grows up: the unconditional support to help them achieve their potential.

We talked to five of the women using our mentoring programmes to help other women succeed.

Defining success, avoiding comparisons and being present in the moment

I’ve often asked myself if there is a particular route to becoming ‘successful’, but it’s so unique depending on each person’s definition of success and their circumstances.

I’ve also learnt that comparison is the thief of joy. It’s good to have role models you can go to for advice, but you don’t need to compare yourself to everything they’re doing. You need to figure out what’s right for you, even if you must learn those lessons the hard way.

Instead of comparing myself to others, I’ve found that listening to my instincts has been critical in navigating my journey at Amazon and getting to where I am now.

Finally, I’ve learnt the most powerful thing you can do is be present. I’ve always had a lot of goals for myself. But, in the last couple of years, I’ve focused less on the future and more on enjoying what’s in front of me now. It’s a different perspective, and I hope I can preserve the mindfulness I feel right now and encourage others to embrace it too.

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