June 15, 2024

The power of learning: Birmingham IT technician, team lead and truck driver offer career tips during Learning at Work Week 2024

UNP Amazon 45565 EMA4 Harbea Simona. Career Choice: Women in Logistics

Three Amazon employees from Birmingham are sharing their career stories during Learning at Work Week 2024 (13th-19th May) to celebrate the career progress they’ve made thanks to the lifelong learning programmes at Amazon.

Learning at Work Week is an annual programme run by the charity Campaign for Learning. The charity works with organisations around the UK to create activities and fun challenges in the workplace to help employees learn and grow.

This year’s theme, Learning power, explores how lifelong and continual learning gives people power to change, grow and achieve individual, team and organisational goals.


Simona Harbea and Olga Kosik, who work at the Amazon fulfilment centre in Sutton Coldfield, and Mohammed Ali, who works in the security industry in Birmingham, have used Amazon’s development and training opportunities to shape their professional careers.

One of the programmes Simona, Olga and Mohammed have taken part in at Amazon is Amazon Career Choice. The programme, which has been running at Amazon for the past decade, pre-pays up to 95% of tuition and fees for courses in high-demand fields, up to £8,000 over four years, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.

Courses available include accountancy, HGV driving and software development, and are designed to help employees build careers at Amazon or elsewhere. It means that eligible employees are given the opportunity to gain the skills and qualifications needed to follow their career aspirations.


The trio has shared their stories to encourage others to take their career to the next level using the Amazon Career Choice programme.


Simona, pictured above,  is from Erdington and works as a transportation operation management (TOM) lead at the Amazon fulfilment centre in Sutton Coldfield.

She joined Amazon after being made redundant from her job as a hotel receptionist during the COVID-19 pandemic. She wanted a job that would be secure during lockdowns, so applied for a role in the Amazon Rugeley shipping department.

Although it was a change from an office-based role, Simona found she really enjoyed the work she did at Amazon. There were ample opportunities for her to upskill and progress, and she found it was easy to take advantage of them.

When a manager headhunted her for a role on the TOM team at Amazon’s fulfilment centre in Hinckley, Simona jumped at the chance to take on the new challenge.

“I like being in direct contact with people in my career,” said Simona, “and as the TOM team manages Amazon’s drivers, I knew the role would suit me. The manager that asked for me clearly thought that too. If a change will be good for you at Amazon, people will make it happen, and my move into operations management team really kickstarted my Amazon career.”


After a few months at Amazon in Hinckley, Simona helped to launch Amazon’s fulfilment centre in Sutton Coldfield. Before she made the move to Sutton Coldfield, she decided to start the process of engaging with Amazon Career Choice. She will complete a Supply Chain and Operations Management course later this year.


Speaking on her reasons for doing the course, Simona said: “I want to specialise my skills and learn more so that I can progress even further at Amazon. My goal is to be an area manager, and the qualification I’ll get by doing Career Choice will help me get there.

“You don’t get opportunities like Career Choice everywhere. And even if your future doesn’t end up being at Amazon, the company will help you get to where you want to go – it’s great.”


Olga and Mohammed also secured their dream jobs thanks to Amazon Career Choice.


Olga is a truck and shunter driver at Amazon and is based at the company’s fulfilment centre in Sutton Coldfield. She comes from a logistics background and has been with Amazon full-time for three years. Olga used Amazon Career Choice to gain a qualification in HGV driving, completing her training in 2023.

“Amazon Career Choice has had a really positive impact on my career,” she said. “The course I did allowed me to change roles from working in the fulfilment centre to becoming a truck driver. I started my new job as a driver earlier this year and it’s been brilliant.”


Olga’s favourite thing about working at Amazon is the flexibility her role offers her. “Our shift patterns mean I have greater flexibility in my personal life,” she says. “Amazon’s flexible working allows me to balance my time at work with being a mum to my daughter.”


Speaking about the future, Olga reveals that her sights are set on continuing her career as a driver. “I’m really enjoying driving and I plan to continue that for the next few years,” she says. “I’m also going to do more Amazon Career Choice programmes to help me build my logistics knowledge, so I can continue to progress my career here.”


Mohammed Ali

Mohammed lives in Birmingham and is an IT technician in the security industry. His previous role was at Amazon in Coventry, where he worked for three years before moving on to his current IT position.

Mohammed joined Amazon in 2019 as a receiver and started to progress to different roles at the company’s site in Coventry. In 2021, he wanted to move to a role in IT, but had no relevant qualifications or training. He joined the Amazon Career Choice programme in the same year, studying an IT technician qualification with Peterborough-based Pitman Training.


“I knew I liked computers and IT, but I never studied the topic or had any experience with it,” he said. “I really wanted to change my career and move into that field, and when I saw that the Amazon Career Choice programme offered qualifications in IT, I jumped at the chance to apply,” he added.

“I felt that the course really related to me, it was accessible, and Amazon pays most of the tuition fees, so it was a no brainer,” Mohammed said.


The Amazon Career Choice programme encourages employees to continue their careers at Amazon, or gives them the opportunity to follow a new career path with a new employer. Mohammed chose the latter option and moved to an exciting new career upon completion of his qualification. Amazon employees who take part in Career Choice and decide to take on a new position elsewhere aren’t required to repay any of the costs of their training if they leave Amazon.


“The company I’m with now had seen my post on LinkedIn about my new qualification, and they approached me to come and work for their business,” Mohammed said. “That wouldn’t have happened without Amazon Career Choice. The programme has enabled me to learn new skills and get a qualification that’s set me on a new career path.”


What does the future look like for Mohammed? “I really want to continue progressing in IT,” he said. “I enjoy the job, I enjoy the industry and I think there are many opportunities for me to develop. I’m excited for what lies ahead.”


Amazon also provides opportunities to improve existing skills or learn new ones through internal career progression opportunities such as apprenticeships, transferring to a different department and promotion to a managerial role.

Amazon Sutton Coldfield General Manager, Paul Roberts, added: “We are proud of Simona, Olga and Mohammed’s success through the Amazon Career Choice programme. Career development is at the core of our culture at Amazon, where lifelong learning is promoted at every turn. Many of our team members have taken part in Career Choice and are now fulfilling their potential on Amazon teams all over the UK, Ireland and further afield. Others have gone on to successful careers elsewhere, and we are proud to have supported them in their professional development by giving them extra tools for success in their new roles. We look forward to offering employees even more choices in the future as Amazon Career Choice evolves and grows.”


Amazon employees receive competitive pay and comprehensive benefits. Pay starts at a minimum of £12.30 per hour in Sutton Coldfield and employees are offered a comprehensive benefits package, including private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection and an employee discount as well as a company pension plan.

Amazon has been named as a ‘Top Employer UK 2024’ by the Top Employer Institute, one of the world’s most prestigious certifications in the field of human resources management. This award recognises Amazon’s commitment to the development and well-being of its employees. In addition to the UK accolade, Amazon has also been certified as one of the Top Employers in Europe for a second consecutive year.


In 2023, Amazon ranked in second place on LinkedIn’s Top Companies list — an annual list that identifies the most sought-after places to work and grow your career in the UK. Using data from LinkedIn’s 900 million members, LinkedIn’s Top Companies list is designed to help professionals identify the best companies to grow their careers.


To find out more about a career with Amazon, visit Amazon Jobs.