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Top Amazon Executives Hold ‘Conversation’ with TSU Students On Success in the Corporate World

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Five senior executives from Amazon recently visited Tennessee State University campus and had a “conversation” with students about coping in the corporate world.

About 50 students from different disciplines gathered in the President’s Dining Room Feb. 7 to interact with the executives on topics ranging from diversity, career preparedness and communications skills to opportunities at Amazon.

The meeting, termed ‘Why Diversity Matters, a Conversation with Amazon Execs,” was arranged by the TSU Career Development Center, and the Office of Corporate Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives. It followed the “Amazon Live” event the night before at the Ryman, where about 400 TSU students, along with students from other local colleges and universities, gathered to hear about Amazon and job opportunities.

Visiting Amazon executives, from left, Cole Brown, Dave Bozeman, Ken Knight, Ed Feitinger, and Thadd Jones, Sr., a TSU graduate, met with TSU students Feb. 7. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Among the Amazon executives visiting TSU was Thadd Jones, Sr., Senior Talent Acquisition Manager for North America Specialty Fulfillment, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business with concentration in marketing from TSU in 2005.

“Amazon is here at TSU for diversity. We believe in creating access for diversity,” he said. “We believe that there is an opportunity to build corporate partnership for HBCUs as well. As a TSU alum, it makes perfect sense for me as we start to think about our footprint in Nashville, to make sure that TSU is at the forefront in building and growing our organization.”

Other executives on the visit to TSU were: Dave Bozeman, vice president of Transportation Services; Ed Feitzinger, vice president Amazon Global Logistics; Cole Brown, vice president HR North America Customer Fulfillment; and Ken Knight, vice president Global Fulfillment HR Amazon.

Russell Wafers, a TSU student, asks the Amazon executives a question during the meeting. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Russell Wafers, a freshman computer science major, was one of the students at the meeting. He wants to work for Amazon after college. He said the gathering gave him an opportunity to ask and get answers to questions about success in the corporate world.

“I really wanted to know what I can do to prepare myself as far as getting a job with Amazon, or just working on my professional skills,” said Wafers, who is from Huntsville, Alabama. “They were really very forthcoming and real.”

The visitors pressed the students on honing their communication skills, to think globally, and prepare themselves for a “changing and evolving” world.

Cole Brown, Vice President HR North America Customer Fulfillment Amazon, talks to two TSU students after the meeting. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“Spend a lot time polishing yourself. Employers are probably not going to tell you how horrible your presentation was,” one said. “You must diversify and think global.”

“The best thing you want to have in your career is option, and the only way you get option is to evolve and prepare yourself for what the world has in store,” another executive said.

Charles Jennings, director of the TSU Career Development Center, said the executives’ visit was an opportunity for “our wonderful students to meet with top executives at Amazon.”

“What you have here are five of the top executives, including four African Americans at Amazon, having an opportunity to meet with and talk about what it is like working and maneuvering in that environment,” said Jennings.

Iris Remey, associate vice president for Corporate Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives, shared Jennings’ sentiment and thanked Jones for asking for the meeting with the students.

“Following the Amazon program at the Ryman, Thadd Jones asked if we would prepare a lunch for 50 students,” said Remey. “He wanted some of his corporate leaders to come and meet some of our students.”

Arnella Williams-Foster, a senior business administration major, said the meeting with the executives was enlightening.

“As a graduating senior, it was really important for me to hear how Amazon operates, specifically because I am looking to work for that company,” said the St. Louis, Missouri, native, with a concentration in marketing.

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With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.