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From a career in fulfillment to a fulfilling career

Buyana Ganbold

Amazon’s warehouses span hundreds of thousands of square feet and often employ more than 1,000 people, helping the massive company to ship about 1.6 million packages a day. Can you imagine the logistics that go into establishing and running one of these facilities?

One person who does not have to imagine is chemical engineering alumna Buyana Ganbold, BS ’15. As an Amazon operations manager, she helped launch two of these warehouses: one in Charlotte, North Carolina, and one in Sacramento, California.

Ganbold, who grew up in Albany Park and Glenview, was unsure of what she wanted to study when she started college.

“I was the first person in my family to attend an American university, so I was left to figure out a lot of it on my own,” she recalled. “Being a high schooler, I was easily influenced by my friends and peers.”

Many of her friends were going into engineering fields. Combine that with her positive experience in AP chemistry and her interest in a career related to environmental sustainability, and you have a path that led to UIC’s chemical engineering department.

In the classroom, Ganbold said her favorite courses were senior design and the unit operations lab courses she took senior year.

“Those courses were the culmination of all the principles we spent years learning and how to apply them ‘in real life,’” she said. “They also closely mirrored how teams and projects function in the professional world.”

Ganbold took those team-building and collaboration skills with her when she graduated and became an area manager at an Amazon facility in Baltimore. After helping to launch the fulfillment centers in Charlotte and Sacramento, she moved to the transportation operations management team at Amazon’s corporate offices in Seattle, where she helped to build a labor planning and forecasting model that covers thousands of employees assigned to hundreds of facilities. She then became a senior program manager for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Though Ganbold ended up in tech, her choice of UIC major has served her well. “My chemical engineering background is an indicator to employers of my ability to think critically,” she said. “I was lucky in joining Amazon as they hire all sorts of educational backgrounds, but what helped me grow and get promoted was my ability to find ways to improve processes or build processes based on user needs.”

Ganbold is preparing for the next step in her career as a program manager at Facebook, where she will help to build internal development programs for software engineers.

A person’s educational background is only as limiting as they want it to be, she said. Ganbold advised that students need to be able to translate their skills and backgrounds to the needs of an employer: in her case, an ability to analyze data, communicate effectively, and deliver results.

“Resilience and persistence are key,” she said. “I was by no means the best-performing student. I made lots of mistakes, but I learned from it and moved on. Don’t linger on your failures—ask more questions so you can do better next time, and don’t make the same mistake twice!”