Garrett Dargan ’18
Internship: Alexa Voice Services at Amazon in Sunnyvale, California
Home country/state: Dublin, Ireland
Favorite SOM class: Innovator, Competitor, Competitive Strategy
At Amazon, we want to enrich our customers’ lives by providing voice services via Alexa, whether through Amazon devices such as Echo, or through devices sold by third parties, such as GE and Ford. Alexa Voice Services (AVS) is a group that collaborates with leading global manufacturers to create innovative products that forever change the way we go about our lives. I came to SOM because I wanted to combine my analytics-intensive marketing experience with a broad set of business skills to drive positive, impactful innovation. As a senior product manager intern in AVS, I have to constantly put myself in the shoes of our customers and think about new challenges Alexa could be asked to overcome.
Unlike the Amazon Lab126 team, which creates Amazon’s first-party consumer electronic devices, the AVS team brings together engineers, developers, designers, systems integrators, and OEMs to deliver Alexa’s growing list of capabilities to devices outside of Amazon’s portfolio. We assist manufacturers in designing, engineering, and testing their products to help them provide their customers with a high quality Alexa experience. AVS product managers must work effectively in cross-functional, global, virtual teams to bring Alexa features and products to market.
My project this summer involves analyzing the increasingly competitive voice-enabled digital assistant landscape to identify sectors where Alexa can add value. SOM’s integrated curriculum has enabled me to overcome every challenge I’ve encountered thus far. The Competitor class has helped me assess the value propositions and competitive advantages of potential third-party partners, while the Innovator class has allowed me to embrace the ambiguity of a creative environment and build processes that promote structured chaotic thinking, essential for impactful innovation.
I am learning a tremendous amount at AVS. My project stakeholders and mentors have not only been incredibly accessible, but they also bring a broad range of skill sets to the table. Aside from the formal and informal trainings Amazon provides, there are also events such as ProdCon and PM Discovery Day, which create opportunities to learn from practitioners that have overcome daunting obstacles. Working with such a culturally and professionally diverse group has been an invaluable personal development opportunity.