The Miller Retail Center had the privilege of interviewing David Magnotta, Recruiting Manager for Amazon Operations. Read on to see how he got started in retail, what he’s doing now and more.
Hi Gators! My name is David Magnotta and I am currently a Recruiting Manager for Amazon Operations’ University Recruiting team. We are responsible for hiring leaders across Operations Management, HR, Safety, and other specialty roles based in our Fulfillment network nationwide. Prior to my current role, I worked for Macy’s as a Sales Manager through their Executive Development Program, and as a HR Manager for Target and Lowe’s stores in Texas. I graduated from UF with a bachelors in Accounting in 2013 and got started in retail after a Macy’s recruiter helped me realize how my analytical background could accelerate my people management and retail career. My wife, Norma, and our two dogs, Benson and Austin, live in Seattle, WA (we moved for Amazon in 2016).
How did the field of retail peak your interest? Is there any part about it that fascinates you the most?
Retail has always been a major part of my life. Some of my earliest memories are shopping with grandparents or exploring NYC’s holiday displays across the flagship stores. I did not understand what a career in retail would look like until college, but always knew I enjoyed the fast paced environment and wanted to do something that brought value to customers. While attending UF, my roommate and I went to a Macy’s information session for extra credit (one of our classes was encouraging students to explore information sessions as sophomores to get exposure) and immediately had my eyes open to what retail careers could look like. I remember being incredibly interested in the number of ways the leaders had grown their careers and the opportunity to explore so many different roles under one brand being a major draw. I interned with them for two summers before starting full-time in their EDP. From there, I further learned what retail was really like and knew I wanted to work in the HR part of the organization, where I had the opportunity to help students unlock the potential of retail and find their own path. Retail is the only industry (in my opinion) that everyone interacts with (usually multiple times a day) and allows people to build careers across disciplines effortlessly without ever having to change your company name. The endless possibilities and constant evolution make sure no day is ever the same and keeps me on my toes, as we navigate how consumers vote with their wallets every day.
What part of retail has grown/improved the most since you’ve been in the field?
When I first started as an intern, Macy’s had just started their omni-channel strategy and 2-day shipping was a luxury exclusively for Prime Members at Amazon. Over the past decade, it has been incredible to see the barriers to entry decrease as small business can now thrive off the internet, social media, and shipping speeds of an hour are not uncommon in some markets. Retailers are continually pushed to be stronger, faster, and more customer obsessed by their competitors-something that was not always the case. I’ve been lucky to be a part of Amazon as we have expanded PrimeNow, sped up Prime delivery, opened our own delivery station network, and even changed the way customers experience physical retail through Just Walk Out Technology.
What do you do to maintain a work/life balance in order for you to face your job in a more inspired mindset?
My wife and I love to travel and made it a priority to change our scenery (often with our dogs), even when we were not comfortable venturing far from home. We explore local beaches, dog parks, and hikes across the PNW. While we have quite a few European destinations we hope to visit when it is safer, Hawaii is our go-to (and its proximity to Seattle helps!). Aside from traveling, I try to structure my day in a way that gives dedicated blocks for different projects and self-care, to ensure I can try to be at my best. It sounds like a cliché, but time management is so important and some of the best advice I ever got was that the work will be there tomorrow, we need to make sure we are too.
What advice do you have for young professionals looking to get careers in this field?
To quote the original retail recruiter: “Look beyond the aisles!” It is so easy to think you know what retail is and get caught up in the hourly positions that come to mind when someone first hears the term retail. There are so many facets of a retailer and I promise there are roles for everyone and any interest. The Miller Center (specifically Cece) played a MAJOR role in my career development and I still talk to her often for career and life advice. Do not be afraid to approach different companies and remember that sometimes, a lower salary can lead to more opportunity and responsibility, accelerating your career. Retail means opportunity and it needs smart leaders now more than ever, as the landscape continues to change. You can reach out to me directly to learn about Amazon or for more 1:1 help at David Magnotta.
Finally, what is a fun fact that you would share in an icebreaker?
Before COVID, my wife and I explored a new country together every year. It’s something that helps keep our travel interest alive and we continue to add to our bucket list often.