EngagementDiversity & InclusionMy working day: Katie George, EMEA Tech Campus Lead, Amazon

My working day: Katie George, EMEA Tech Campus Lead, Amazon

In a regular new series, HRD Connect speaks with leaders from all different industries about their working day. In our latest feature, we spoke with Katie George, EMEA Tech Campus Lead, Amazon.

Learning from your peers is very important when it comes to overcoming challenges and adapting to new working environments. In a new series launched by HRD Connect we find out how your peers shape and craft their working days.

Katie George, EMEA Tech Campus Lead, Amazon

What time does your day start?
I wake up at 06:45, but arrive at the office around 08:45. I can be quite flexible, which is really nice.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
The first thing I do in the morning is jump out of bed and open my shutters to see what the weather is like. I’m obsessed with the weather, so for me this is top priority!

What for you kick starts your day correctly?
I’m hot on always having breakfast, which is usually warm porridge with peanut butter, banana and honey. After breakfast I’ll do 10 minutes of meditation using my app called Calm. Then I’ll scroll through emails on my work phone and personal phone – it’s really important to me that I keep both of these separate.

What is your commute like to work?
It takes me about 45 minutes to get to work from my home in South East London. I’m on the train for about 20 minutes followed by a lovely walk through the busy-morning square mile to the Amazon office in Shoreditch. I love people watching on my way to work. I marvel at the way people push through the crowds – thinking why they didn’t get up earlier so they could take in the atmosphere?

What is the first thing you do when you get to the office/start working?
The very first thing I do when I get into work is say hello to the team, ask how they are and have a laugh about who is sitting where. Since we hot-desk, there is always a joke about who bagged the window seats!

I try to block out some time first thing in the morning so I don’t have to rush to meetings, leaving me about half an hour to chat to the team and prepare myself for the day. I often travel as part of my role so it’s important that my team feel I am truly present when I am in London.

Can you talk me through a typical morning for you…?
Most mornings I have either a team meeting (our team covers Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific now, so we have an early international leadership meeting) or a one on one meeting with one of my direct reports. I’m more alert in the morning, so I like to do my most pressing meetings early. I am often back to back with meetings until around noon, at least.

What do you have for lunch?
I love Poke bowls at the moment. Our office is really close to Spitalfields Market which is amazing as I love street food, and the variety on offer is amazing. You can literally eat anything!

Do you feel more productive in the morning, or after lunch?
Morning! I’m definitely much fresher in the morning.

What do you think is the best way to motivate a team?
For me, making sure your whole team really believe in, and are invested in, your vision is the best motivator. Take them on your vision for the team with you.

This means keeping them involved every step of the way, through always asking for their feedback, remembering to update them, asking their opinion and being mindful of what they really mean when they tell you something (for example, following up with questions to uncover their concerns).

What does a typical afternoon look like for you?
Usually I have more meetings in the afternoons. I tend to have more of my business update meetings in the afternoon because once the team have updated me on what’s going on in the morning, I am better equipped to represent them well and know the facts.

Sometimes, when my afternoons are quieter, I sneak in a reformer pilates class. I find pilates gives me a big energy boost after lunch, and we’re super lucky to have a studio/meditation room in the Amazon building that we can use for this.

What is the one thing you never forget to do throughout your day?
I always check in with the team, specifically on how I can remove any blockers they are facing. I’ll also never go a day without responding to all my emails and messages.

What time do you leave work?
It really varies as we don’t have set finishing times in our team. Typically I leave at around 6pm, but sometimes I’ll leave earlier at 5pm/5:15pm if a I have Pilates class. But sometimes I’ll stay much later, for example if I’m writing a strategy document or joining a call with the Amazon team in the US. But it’s always my choice if I do decide to stay late – there’s never any pressure.

Do you think you have a good work/life balance?
That’s a tough question! I’m definitely permitted to have a good work/life balance at Amazon, but I’m not sure I do have one! I really could do better at allowing myself a good work/life balance, but I’m just so into my work – I really enjoy it!

What do you do in the evenings?
I love going to dinner with my friends. I still regularly see people I went to school and university with, which is really nice. Sometimes I visit my mum who lives close by. And I love watching a good thriller TV series at home on the sofa with my fiancé – Scandi dramas are my favourite.

I absolutely hate cooking! So we tend to order food delivery or those meal kits which get delivered with all the ingredients and simple-to-follow recipes.

When is bedtime?
I tend to go to bed at around 11 PM. I always start preparing for bed at around 10 PM, but somehow don’t end up going to sleep for at least an hour.

A bit about you…

What is your personal career highlight?
The role I am currently in now at Amazon is my personal career highlight. It’s the biggest, fastest-growing team I’ve ever been in charge of – it’s grown from five to 18 people in just 5 months! I never imagined I would come this far so quickly at Amazon. Opportunities are rife and if you choose to run with them, you can have great success. It is very rewarding!

What do you do to unwind?
Meditation, yoga/Pilates are my go-to things for relaxation. And I’m just so happy eating out.

What is your favourite food?
Croquettes (any flavour) and Pasteis de Nata (I’m off to Lisbon this week to try the original recipe at the famous Pasteis de Belem patisserie)!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Build your team for success and nurture each individual to bring out the best in them. Setting your team up for success – it’s definitely the best leadership advice I’ve ever been given.  The best piece of personal advice I’ve been given is to be your true, authentic self in life if you want to be happy.

What would you like to be remembered for?
I’d love to be remembered for creating an environment that people enjoy working in, thrive in, and are able to be the best version of themselves. The same goes for how I treat my friends and family – fairly and openly, so everyone can be themselves with no pretence!

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