A lot has changed in the last 15 years, but for a group of employees working at the Amazon fulfilment centre in Swansea, something that hasn’t changed is their commitment to their employer.
A group of dedicated team members based at the fulfilment centre in Swansea recently celebrated a milestone length of service at the company. In October, eight people working at Amazon were pleased to call the Swansea Bay site their place of work for the last 15 years. Two of the team also celebrated an additional milestone of working for Amazon for 20 years.
Emma Varnals, who has worked at Amazon since 2002, is one of two employees celebrating 20 years of service to the company, 15 years of which have been spent in Swansea. The second employee happens to be her partner, Darren Wells, and the pair have worked side-by-side in the picking department at the fulfilment centre in Swansea since 2007.
Before joining Amazon, Emma worked as a care assistant, followed by a few years in an admin support role.
Darren was the first of the couple to embark on a career at Amazon, with Emma following suit a few months later after hearing how much he enjoyed it. The pair originally worked in separate departments in one of Amazon’s fulfilment centres in London, then moved to the Swansea fulfilment centre when it launched in 2007.
Speaking on how the fulfilment centre has changed during her career, Emma said: “It’s just amazing how everything has advanced over the past 20 years. With the various innovations in technology that have taken place, it’s no surprise that many of the processes at Amazon have changed.
“Most are now done digitally, using electronic scanners which store the information on all customer orders. However, I do recall a time when piles of paper helped us stay on track when picking orders.”
Speaking of her favourite memory at Amazon, Emma said: “The release of the Harry Potter books was very special. Amazon got them before the stores did.” As a big Harry Potter fan, this was an exceptionally enjoyable experience for Emma.
Another employee at Amazon in Swansea celebrating a career milestone is Alex Bennett, who works as a UK Escalation Specialist and has been working at the fulfilment centre for 15 years.
Alex joined Amazon in 2007, starting out in a temporary warehouse in Gorseinon, then moving to the brand-new Swansea Bay building.
Speaking on what influenced him to apply for a role, Alex shared: “I was a customer before I was an employee with Amazon. The year I joined, online retail was a new concept and people were apprehensive. I felt it was a company that would be here for the long run, and I wanted to be part of that. As soon as I heard that Amazon was moving to Swansea, I applied for a job, and I’m still here today.”
Alex started as a dock master, a role that involved booking the inbound trailers into the site. He progressed internally to the role he’s in today, adding that “you can go as far as you want in Amazon, with many opportunities to grow if that’s what you want”.
When asked what has made him stick around for 15 years, Alex says the work life balance his role has given him is second to none. For him, the best thing about working at Amazon is the opportunity to excel in his career while devoting time to another role that is very important to him: being a dad.
Sharing in Alex’s 15-year success story are Graham Missenden, Kelly Yeo, Kerry Rooks, Stephen Jones and Julie Richards.
Amazon Swansea General Manager, Christopher Law, alongside a few members of the management team at the site, recently treated the group to a meal at local restaurant Langland Brasserie to celebrate their longest serving team members. The group was presented with a special cake to mark the occasion.
Speaking on the event, Emma Varnals said: “When we first started at Amazon, we all made friends with each other, and it was great to spend the evening with everyone to catch up and reminisce.”
Amazon Swansea General Manager, Christopher Law, added: “This group of fantastic people has dedicated so many years to Amazon. Everyone is a much-loved member of our team at Amazon in Swansea and I’m pleased to celebrate their collective and individual achievements.”
Emma, Darren, Alex, Graham, Kelly, Kerry, Stephen and Julie are among Amazon’s 70,000 employees in the UK. Amazon provides competitive pay, comprehensive benefits and a modern, safe and engaging work environment for its employees. The roles pay a minimum of £10.50 per hour, and Amazon employees can also take advantage of Amazon’s pioneering Career Choice programme, which pre-pays 95% of tuition 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.
Amazon also provides opportunities to improve existing skills or learn new ones through internal career progression opportunities such as cross-training, transferring to a different department and promotion into a managerial role.
Anyone can find out more about what it’s like to work at an Amazon fulfilment centre by signing up for a virtual tour at uk.amazonfctours.com