By Caroline Brooks
When Amazon announced its plans to open a corporate office in Detroit last September, it was the just the beginning of what is turning out to be a long-term investment in the next wave of innovation in Michigan—the latest of which can be seen at the Broad College of Business.
“We have a long-term plan to grow our presence in the great state of Michigan, and bring more full-time, high-tech jobs to the city of Detroit,” Peter Faricy, vice president for Amazon Marketplace and Broad College of Business graduate, said in a statement, noting that the company is “focused on hiring in the state and look forward to being a part of the community, professionally and personally.”
Amazon’s long-term plan is already in motion, as evidenced by the company’s campus activity and commitment to academic innovation.
Beginning in the fall, Amazon was all the buzz for Spartan job-seekers. “We definitely consider them a top-hiring company and have seen them increase their level of recruiting at Broad,” said Tony Mara, senior associate director of the Broad Graduate Career Management Center. “Amazon has its own non-traditional way of interviewing and recruiting that intrigues students from all concentrations.”
The e-commerce conglomerate traveled to MSU’s campus for three days, spending time with both undergraduates and graduate students. Representatives from Amazon’s Operations Management, Retail, Product Management and CloudPath promoted the company at information sessions and a networking reception for MBAs.
The 2015–16 academic year brought the most Amazon jobs or internships to date for Broad College graduate students, including the Amazon project management program at its Seattle headquarters, as well as its Pathways Program for supply chain and logistics at fulfillment centers across the country.
But perhaps the greatest investment Amazon will make for the next academic year is serving as the corporate sponsor of the Broad Integrative Fellows (BIF) program. This program seeks to develop integrative thinking across business disciplines among Broad College early-career faculty as a means of enhancing the college’s teaching and learning culture.
“Each year, a company offers a business problem that BIF scholars ’dig into.’ The idea is that the fellows have the ability to learn about the company, what it does, and how the problem is viewed through various lenses,” explained Jeff Beck, BIF co-director and associate professor of hospitality business. Previous BIF sponsors include Disney and Marriott.
Five BIF faculty, each of whom represents a different business discipline, will travel to Seattle and interview Amazon executives on their chosen topic, “embracing innovation through new business processes.” Following interviews, the BIF faculty will develop a business case and teaching plan based on their topic, then teach it in a class in the coming semester with at least one Amazon executive present to provide additional insight to the students.
“The fact that Amazon supports this integrative method of teaching and innovative faculty development at the undergraduate and MBA levels is a statement to the philosophy we have adopted at Broad for business education,” Beck said.
From classroom curriculum to the Detroit city skyline, Amazon’s footprint in Michigan innovation continues growing – and shows no sign of a slowdown.