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Amazon searching for tech talent, scientists with next-gen skills as it conquers Europe

Of all American-based tech companies/e-tailers, Amazon is in the middle of the most aggressive expansion in Europe.

Between the documented moves into food delivery, introduction of Amazon Lockers and rumors of the Seattle-based company building its own air-freight fleet, Jeff Bezos clearly sees Europe as his next growth market. But what’s especially interesting is, Amazon is developing extremely advanced technology at several locations in Europe including for Amazon Echo, the new voice-operated digital command center for entertainment and information.

So, what’s this mean for expat tech talent? Potentially some serious opportunities depending on your employment status, skill sets and language skills. We must say, your chances as an English-speaking expat in Europe seem pretty darn good after researching Amazon’s recruitment sites. Usually, we drone on about a company before we get to the job details. But this is really interesting because of the detail Amazon execs include when stating what they need in terms of skills, which are, to be honest, exceptionally advanced in voice recognition, molecular research and other areas. These ain’t package-handling jobs.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 3.44.45 PMThis is from the recruitment website for the Aachen, Germany operation:

Interested in Amazon Echo? We’re building the speech and language solutions behind Amazon Echo and other Amazon products and services. Come join us!

As a Research Manager, you will be responsible for leading a team of scientists in the invention, design, development, testing, and deployment of speech and language technology components, supporting a range of products. This involves:
· Conducting and coordinating research leading to improved accuracy of automatic speech recognition (ASR) and/or natural language understanding (NLU) systems.
· Owning the strategic planning and project management for technical initiatives.
· Providing technical and scientific guidance to your team members.
· Conducting experiments and analyzing field data utilizing programming skills in C/C++ and Python.
· Communicating effectively with senior management as well as with colleagues from science, engineering and business backgrounds.
· Supporting the career development of your team members.
The successful candidate will have an established background in developing customer-facing experiences, a strong technical ability, excellent project management skills, great communication skills, and the motivation to achieve results in a fast-paced environment.

This is from the description of Liquavista, the company they acquired in Eindhoven, the Netherlands:

main7631Liquavista BV was acquired by Amazon in April 2013. In Eindhoven, the Netherlands, we are developing a new display technology, based on electrowetting technology. We are looking for excellent people to strengthen our team in various areas, including hardware development, process development and materials technology.

We had to look up “electrowetting,” so obviously, we won’t be landing a gig with Liquavista. Electrowetting is a new technology that runs current through a colored oil as part of a cutting edge imaging that can trigger changes on the pixel level. The process is used for a new generation of video displays that will be as easy to read outside in bright sunlight as inside. Or something like that. So, in other words, Amazon is looking for skills in Eindhoven for a new technology most people don’t even know exists.

(Neither specifies foreign language skills, but we’re assuming since they’re in English, they’re looking for English-speaking talent. That said, most of the career positions do require candidates to speak both English and the local language, such as an ad for German Data Team Manger for the Kindle in Aachen. And all the jobs at several centers, including Augsburg in Germany, were only in German.)

This is just a tiny sample of jobs, and Amazon executives have posted hundreds across Europe in recent weeks. With Amazon operating in 48 cities across Europe from Stockholm to Iasi, Romania, we can’t list every opportunity. But here’s where to start your own search by country or category, which might take awhile, because Amazon has about 80 corporate offices, fulfillment centers, seller and customer service centers, R&D operations, and Amazon Web Services data centers.

In addition to its Luxembourg City headquarters for Europe, those include 24 fulfillment centers, at least 10 technical centers, from Scotland, Ireland and England to Romania. The company also has the headquarters of companies it’s acquired in Cambridge, outside London and Eindhoven. In the United Kingdom alone, there are at least 11 operations, including f0ur in and around London, one in Bath west of London, one in  Cambridge, one in Dublin, one in Wales and one in Edinburgh.

The headquarters, according to the Amazon website, now is in Luxembourg:

Luxembourg is not only the heart of Europe; it’s now the heart of Amazon in Europe, where the strategic decisions for our European businesses are made. Working here at the very center of it all, you will be part of an outstanding team. Our offices are situated in the lively Rives de Clausen and Grund areas of Luxembourg city, just a ten minute walk apart along the Alzette river with views of the historic fortress walls. Our customer facing teams such as Retail, Kindle and Amazon Marketplace are headquartered here in Luxembourg, as well as our Operations business and supporting functions such as Finance, Legal and HR.

Whether you want to be responsible for making sure our customers have access to earth’s largest selection thanks to your negotiations with vendors; you want to be part of the supply chain and transportation team that makes sure shipments can be at our customers’ homes as quickly as possible; or you want to help commercial customers to build great businesses by using our breakthrough technology: Amazon Luxembourg has a variety of roles.

Many of the jobs, such as the Amazon operations in Aachen, Germany, specify native language skills. That’s not true of all jobs at Aachen, and it appears if you’re an English-speaking European Union resident, you’re good to go. American techpats … you likely know the rules, but many countries such as the Netherlands allow multinationals to hire non-citizens if they can prove their skills aren’t available locally. (See our Expat Essentials stories on the rules in Europe here.)

Here’s a listing for a natural language processing research scientist that was posted March 4:

Amazon is looking for a passionate, talented and inventive Research Scientist to help build industry-leading speech and language solutions that will enhance user interactions with our products and services in order to provide the best-possible experience for our customers.

As a Research Scientist on our team, you will build and optimize cutting-edge natural language understanding systems and conduct core research aimed at advancing the state of the art. This involves:
· Researching the latest modeling techniques. Understanding trade-offs between competing approaches, and identifying the ones that are likely to have real impact on our customers.
· Implementing and/or improving modeling tools, training recipes and prototypes utilizing programming skills in Python and/or Java.
· Conducting experiments to assess the quality of natural language processing modules and to study the effect of different modeling techniques.
· Analyzing field data in order to identify areas of possible improvement or enhancement of the system.

And if research and coding aren’t your thing, don’t forget Amazon is recruiting fashion vloggers in Europe to help customers visualize how to build wardrobes … which Amazon will sell them and deliver with its drones! Welcome to the 21st Century.

Amazon already employs at least 40,000 people in Europe and last year created 10,000 permanent jobs. It has ambitious expansion plans for this year. Okay, so no question, Amazon is the 800-kilo global giant in e-commerce and tech. The question becomes, when does the American firm start going head-to-head for talent with German rival Zalando? Zalando is part of Berlin-based Rocket Internet, and pretty much a German knock-off of Zappos, which Amazon now owns. We just saw this current post on Ecomony about Zalando needing 1,000 new employees for its tech operations alone. The story is more of a news release, but it has one credible fact: Zalando has today approximately 10,000 employees working with 15 markets.

Both Amazon and Zalando are having a tough time finding tech talent, and it’s a matter of time before they start pushing past their areas of operation into Eastern Europe, where countries such as Romania and Poland already are running out of tech talent. So let the battle of the Titans begin.


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Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.

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