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2017 The Amazon Think Big Challenge

The Think Big Challenge, Oct 2017

23 October 2017, Newnham College

Female graduate students from across the University of Cambridge interested in embarking on technology careers came together on 23 October 2017 to compete in the Amazon Think Big Challenge. The participants came from a wide range of backgrounds, including business, engineering, biotechnology and medicine.

The event, organised by the Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School, Newnham College and Amazon, invited students from STEM disciplines at the University of Cambridge and current students at Cambridge Judge and asked them to work on  a real and current business challenge facing Amazon's customers. The team members collectively formulated ideas and crafted a solution by combining technology and business aspects, facilitated by top executives from Amazon.

The session was followed by a networking reception and dinner with Amazon executives, senior academics and participants.

Women are underrepresented in the STEM industries and we have worked since Newnham’s foundation in 1871 to address this. We are delighted to collaborate with CJBS on this annual initiative to highlight potential STEM careers for women and the Amazon Think Big Challenge was an inspirational activity for everyone who took part.
Keynote speaker Professor Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College
Carol Black
The Think Big Challenge is exactly the type of collaboration we need between universities and corporations to address the challenge of improving female representation in the tech industries.This was a great opportunity for our students from diverse fields including basic sciences, engineering and business interested in careers in technology industries to work on real cases, get close mentoring from experienced executives from Amazon and equally importantly, to learn from each other.
Professor Sucheta Nadkarni, Director of the Wo+Men's Leadership Centre
Sucheta Nadkarni
15:30-16:00 Arrival and registration Lucia Windsor Hall
16:00-18:45 Amazon Web Services – Think Big Challenge College Hall
18:45-19:30 Reception College Hall
19:30-21:00 Dinner, keynote speech and awards presentation College Hall

Keynote speaker

Professor Dame Carol Black DBE FRCP FMedSci
Principal, Newnham College


Professor Sucheta Nadkarni
Sinyi Professor of Chinese Management and Director of the WLC, Cambridge Judge Business School
Professorial Fellow, Newnham College

Kathryn Xistris
Amazon Web Services Professional Services for World Wide Public Sector across EMEA, Latam, Canada and Asia Pacific

Tracey Horn
Head of Corporate Communications & Marketing and Associate Director of the WLC, Cambridge Judge Business School

Jo Tynan
Communications Director, Newnham College

Pete Barlow
Account Manager, Education, Amazon Web Services

Matthew Briggs
Senior Manager, Solutions Architecture, Amazon Web Services

Ryan Chung
Solutions Architect Manager, Amazon Web Services

Norm Driskell
Director, EMEA - Public Sector, Solutions Architecture, Amazon Web Services

Anya Epishcheva
Senior Consultant, Advisory, UK Public Sector, Amazon Web Services

Josh Ho
Senior Business Operations Manager, Public Sector – Professional Services & Solution Architects, Amazon Web Services

Ed Jackson
Education Lead, UK & Ireland, Amazon Web Services

Helen Lyashenko
Software Development Manager, Amazon

Michael Miley
National Security Tech Team Manager, Amazon Web Services

Larry Pizette
Head of WWPS, US Account Solutions Architecture, Amazon Web Services

Kevin Pryor
Recruiter, Amazon Web Services

Joanna Szwajgier
EMEA Talent Acquisition Lead, Amazon Web Services

Zaheer (Z) Tanveer
Head of US Public Sector Professional Services, Amazon Web Services


View the photos on Flickr


Some people see Amazon as an online store, but ultimately we are a global technology company and the attendees really embodied the Amazon leadership principles during this task. We are looking forward to continuing to work with our mentees.
Kathryn Xistris, International Practice Manager, Amazon Web Services
Photo of Kathryn Xistris, Amazon Web Services
All of the members from our team came from different backgrounds – we had six people in the team and we were from six different countries. We had a really productive time brainstorming our idea and how to present it. We didn't have conflict – we had negotiations. The input from the mentors was extremely beneficial and I'm so pleased to have had the opportunity to take part in such an enriching experience.
Swati Kalra, participant (Cambridge MBA 2017)
Swati Kalra

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