Searching for a “needle in a haystack” is not an easy job, especially when the haystack involves hundreds of millions of data points. But what makes it interesting is finding that needle of potentially fraudulent transactions in a sea of legitimate Amazon transactions conducted by buyers and sellers.

Our next pathbreaker Sandeep takes that challenge everyday and uses his critical thinking skills to identify and flag suspicious sellers/buyers, thus saving Amazon from potential losses and help make the internet safer.

Sandeep talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview portal about how he landed at Amazon as his first job and the satisfaction of preventing frauds from happening ! Read on …

Sandeep, tell us about yourself

I grew up in a town called Kamalapuram in Warangal, Telangana. I studied their till class 10. My initial years at school had a very important role to play in building my interpersonal relationships. Friends that I have got during my school age are like my family. We used to go on several trips to agricultural fields to know about growing of paddy and wheat. It was a culturally rich experience.

Since we didnt have a school after class 10 I shifted to hyderabad for secondary school. There I took up MPC for class 11 and 12.

What did you study?

I really didnt have much of an idea about what I wanted to do after 12th. Since my brother had taken up engineering I also decided to follow. After taking the engineering entrance exam in Hyderabad (EAMCET), I got admission into ECE branch in Raja Mahendra College of Engineering affiliated to Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTUH).

At college, we had good facilities and infrastructure. Infact the first year went off very well. But after the first year our faculty started leaving for better opportunities in other colleges. By the end of 2nd year we were all left to fend for ourselves.

So a few of us started taking some initiative and we started visiting our library and building content ourselves for the ECE courses and circulating it among our classmates. This was very important learning experience for us. Although we hardly had 2 senior lecturers who were helpful to some extent, but we learnt a lot by ourselves.

Inspite of all our efforts, most of us didnt have a job when we graduated.

Tell us about your career path

I decided to take a year off after graduation and prepare myself for the corporate world. At the time I graduated I knew I had no knowledge or understanding of coding, so a software job was out of question. I decided to take several courses and equip myself before applying for a job. I took courses on java, c++, hardware, embedded systems. At the same time I started attending interviews for various positions.

I attended almost 25 interviews but still couldnt get a job. Though it was a very tough period I could see myself improving with every interview, because initially I was getting rejected in the very 1st round but later I was getting rejected during the 2nd or 3rd rounds and the final stage.

 How did you get your first break?

At this time I had already attended an interview for a position in Amazon. I failed in that interview as well. That was my first interview experience soon after my graduation. During this time my parents encouraged me and asked me to keep at it. Finally there was another opportunity for me to take another crack at Amazon for a Risk Investigator position after 6 months of my first rejection at Amazon. After being interviewed for 7 rounds I cleared it and got an offer. I still remember the HR of Amazon appreciating me for my efforts and hardwork that I had put in up skilling myself in the past 6 months. Even during the interview, when I was asked about gap of one year after college I had frankly answered that I had taken a break to learn skills and software programs. When you are honest people appreciate it.
I also got offers from Wipro and Accenture. With 3 offers in hand I decided to join Amazon.

Tell us about some of the challenges that you faced in your career?

My interpersonal skills were sub-par. Building my interpersonal skills was the biggest challenge in my career. Since I knew my speaking skills were not that good, just to improve those skills, I started taking up initiatives in my college days by giving presentations on different occasions which really helped me become what I’m today.

I never gave up on attending interviews inspite of getting rejected in the very first round. Took each rejection as a lesson and worked hard to replace myself in the eligibility criteria required.

Tell us about your work at Amazon

I have been at Amazon for almost 3 years. This is my first company. When I joined Amazon I was the only fresher in the batch of 21. All the others had a minimum of 2-3 years experience. So i was treated as a student and my colleagues taught me a lot of things about the corporate world. For the first 3-4 months I was put on training, learning about cases and various processes. Within 1 year I was cross trained on various roles in my department.

My role in Amazon is to identify and flag fraudulent transactions, done either by buyers or sellers. This requires good critical thinking skills because we have to make decisions based on data, patterns and trends. Decisions have to be made based on lots of factors like location, transaction amt, transaction size, frequency, recency etc. As you look at more and more cases you tend to build those skills and know what to look for. 
We also have a business team based in Seattle to whom we report the potential buyers and sellers who we believe have committed these fraudulent transactions and they help us validate our judgement. Moreover we also need to provide detailed analysis of our decision and how and why we arrived at our conclusion.

Currently iam part of a newly formed “Specialized Risk Team” at Amazon where we have a lot of flexibility in proactively identifying frauds, primarily in North America. As a part of this role we look at lots of transaction and analytics reports and dashboards and try to spot abnormal transactions and activity.

Tell us about a day in your life at work

At Amazon it is always day 1. Everyday is like a new challenge and I get to learn many new things that could be related to process/seller’s/buyer’s or the risk patterns, but I really get fascinated by the work culture at Amazon. It’s a kind of unique style that we get to work everyday. Tag line of Amazon itself states “WORK HARD HAVE FUN & MAKE HISTORY”. That’s what motivates me daily to work at Amazon. I do have lot of fun at my work place. Though we have peak time’s where we get a lot of volumes to work with, but I make sure that the decisions I take do not show impact on either Amazon or customers (Seller’s/Buyer’s) business.

How does your work benefit the society?

In this era of Internet and smartphones everyone in the society looks for a better and safest place to perform online transactions. As a part of Risk Investigations, the work I do will earn trust from the customer’s and probably make Amazon the most safest platform on earth to perform online transactions and purchase things online.

What do you love about your job and what are the most important skills needed?

I feel proud when I proactively stop huge transactions happening in the Amazon platform performed by the fraudulent parties.I investigate in all the possible potential areas of fraud to prevent bad debt to Amazon. 
Critical Thinking and Decision Making skills play a major role in my job. The decisions that I make after analysing all the data points available can directly impact Amazon’s or Customer’s business. Using all my logical ability I should make the right decision at the right time to provide valid and accurate resolution to the end customer.

Your advice to students?

Always think positive and be self-motivated. Never look for someone to encourage you to take an initiative. Be optimistic and just believe in yourself. Never loose self confidence at any point of life. Everyone’s life is challenging in it’s own way, so don’t compare your life with others. Try to learn from failures and always remember that rejections comes into our life only to make us stronger than what we actually are, so never stop learning. No success comes without hardwork. Set a goal, work hard for it. Cherish each and every moment of life. 

Always have PLAN A and PLAN B.

PLAN A – Set a goal.PLAN B – No matter what, make PLAN A work 
***Start Enjoying The Taste Of Success***