FEATURE // SPRING 2014
Delivering on High Expectations at Amazon
Amazon is a company in demand — by consumers, the media, and job seekers. Long known as a place of growth and innovation, the company also makes news for its high standards in hiring.
So it's no surprise that a Ross alum, Peter Faricy, MBA '95, plays a key role at Amazon, as vice president of Amazon
Marketplace. And it also follows that those high standards drive the high number of placements of other Ross grads: Amazon's hiring of Ross students is increasing, with nearly 50 getting either full-time
jobs or internships at Amazon last year alone.
Peter Faricy's three tips for
being "customer obsessed"
Amazon Marketplace sellers shipped items to customers in more
than 185 countries in the 2013 holiday season.
Before arriving at Amazon, Faricy worked at Borders Group, Ford Motor Co., and McKinsey & Co. He joined Amazon
in 2006, initially as vice president of music and movies. "I couldn't help but notice
the company's focus on
customers and innovation,"
he says of what drew him
there. Amazon was already
aggressively seeking out
new opportunities and
making things easier for its users. "All of that led to
a company that was growing very, very fast."
The Amazon experience
Amazon appealed to him because he could apply the
problem-solving and analytic skills he learned at Ross and
honed earlier in his career. "The problems you get to solve
are very fun problems," he says, reflecting on the company's
blistering growth. (Last year's revenue was 22 percent
higher than 2012's — and that's pretty typical for Amazon.)
sellers can reach more
than 100 million households
in the U.S. and
230 million worldwide.
But Amazon's not just big
business. It's also small
business — lots of them.
Forty percent of the items
sold on Amazon last year
— more than a billion units
— weren't actually sold by
Amazon. They were sold in Amazon Marketplace, an online
collection of third-party sellers hosted by the company.
In 2009 Faricy became vice president for Marketplace, where
he oversees the operations of 2 million sellers of various sizes.
Marketplace has grown from a great place to find that out-ofprint
book or CD to a source for everything from pet supplies
to jewelry. Recent additions include sports memorabilia,
wine, and even artworks. Geographically, Marketplace
recently expanded into China, India, Italy, and Spain.
"It's really an unprecedented business opportunity,"
Faricy says. And it all makes sense in the overall company
culture: "Our obsession is, how do we innovate on
behalf of customers?" — with the much-discussed drone
delivery concept just one high-profile example.
Lessons from Ross
Faricy speaks enthusiastically of his Ross education
and the preparation it afforded. "I feel blessed to have
received my MBA degree from Ross," he says. "Ross
was really a pioneer in action-based learning."
He vividly recalls the lessons of his MAP project, led by faculty
sponsor Jane Dutton. The team worked with Target to study
retention of hourly associates. Going in, they expected pay would
be the top concern. "Much to our surprise," he says, "the most
important factor was how well you onboard new employees."
Faricy's dedication to the Ross philosophy led him to accept
an invitation to join the Ross School Advisory Board, where
he hopes to help keep the school on its successful course.
He encourages fellow alums to engage with the school as
much as possible, promising a rewarding experience.
On Cyber Monday 2013,
more than 13 million units
were ordered worldwide
from Amazon Marketplace
sellers, a 50 percent
increase over 2012.
When visiting Ann Arbor
as an alum, Faricy always
tries to connect with
Tom Kinnear. "I learned a
great deal from Professor
Kinnear. Not just about
marketing strategy, but about
business leadership more
broadly," he says — particularly the value of high standards
for performance. "We learned more than we thought."
Those high standards come into play in hiring at Amazon,
where many Ross grads make an impact. Hires from Ross have
all the expected traits of a top-tier MBA, Faricy says — smarts,
analytic ability, problem-solving skills. But, he adds, what sets
Ross apart are the "softer" skills like work ethic, humility,
listening, and putting theory into practice: "We really find that
Ross graduates are some of the best holistic business leaders."
A BBA Without Borders
Ross revamps its undergraduate program for the students of tomorrow.
Delivering on High Expectations at Amazon
Peter Faricy, MBA '95, leads the online retail giant's successful Marketplace division.
Helping Make History in Detroit
Lisa Howze, BBA '95, plays a key role in the revitalization of the Motor City.
A New Gift of Lifelong Learning
Alums can participate in Ross' acclaimed Executive Education Program – for free.
Victory For Ross Campaign Off to Strong Start
New fund drive focusing on support for students, programs, and faculty.
20 Questions with Ruth Blatt
Ruth Blatt, PhD '08,
writes about surprising intersections between business and rock music.
Ryan Whisnant, MBA '10/ Erb '10
Ryan Whisnant and Aileen Payumo, both MBA '10, witnessed typhoon damage – and set out to help.