Innovation an integral part of Future-focused Learning at Samuel Marsden Collegiate School

Samuel Marsden Collegiate School welcomed Jonathon Meichtry, Principal Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services, as the first presenter in the Marsden Innovation Series this week. The session was attended by Marsden Year 9-13 students, parents and members of the business community.

Innovation is essential to growth at Amazon, not just a few big innovations every year, they need thousands of innovations every day. In the session Meichtry shared Amazon’s culture of innovation, a culture where they start with the customer and work backwards with everything they do.  He showed examples of innovation appearing in unexpected ways and unexpected places across many different domains like books, groceries, video streaming and even delivery by drones.  Meichtry shared how Amazon is a company of builders, the mechanisms they’ve developed to help people build and highlight how everyone at Amazon actively participates in the innovation process and constantly obsesses over our customers.

“It was fascinating to learn about the creative thinking and a willingness to fail that underlies the creation of new technologies at Amazon.  These are principles we can bring into our own way of operating – in multiple areas of our programmes and thinking”, said Marsden’s Academic Director Margaret Adeane.

At Amazon, staff start their careers by building their own desk, a door from a hardware shop, with four legs bolted to it. This epitomises their philosophy that it’s a hands-on environment and is all about the experience at the front end – not the back end.

Assisted by his daughters, Jonathon demonstrated the voice activated ‘Alexa’ in operation – a device that interacts intuitively with everyday technology, to tell you anything from the weather to a joke. The most important part of the demonstration was to understand that even as the technology goes into production, the company is thinking ahead: what will the customer want next? How can it be supported? Attendees loved seeing Jonathon’s daughter demonstrate the Alexa taking a video of them that could then be used for wardrobe suggestions and purchases. Another great piece of technology was the dash wand used in the US to scan the barcodes of products in your pantry, or to speak into, which then translated into online grocery orders delivered directly to your door.

Meichtry’s demonstration was very much about thinking creatively to anticipate customer needs.  Attendees learned about Amazon Go – which offers the most advanced retail shopping technology in the world, where shoppers scan their phone on entry and then just put their shopping in their bag before walking out the door – no checkouts, no queues.  Meichtry showed how creative thinking, inventiveness and the willingness to experiment and fail are behind some of the world’s most exciting innovations. “Jonathon’s presentation was a wonderful start to the Marsden Innovation Series. We’d like to thank Jonathon and the Meichtry girls for giving us so much to think about”, said Principal Narelle Umbers.

Jonathon Meichtry, Principal Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services (with his daughters and
Marsden Principal Narelle Umbers)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018