Amazon CFO shares insights, advice with engineering and business students

Erin Cassidy Hendrick
April 18, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In early April, Brian T. Olsavsky, senior vice president and chief financial officer (CFO) at Amazon, returned to his alma mater to receive an Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award from the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering — and managed to inspire some students along the way.

On April 8, Olsavsky fielded questions from students from the College of Engineering and the Smeal College of Business for a question-and-answer session and lunch, held in the E-Knowledge Commons.

Devon Heston, an undergraduate student in mechanical engineering who moderated the event, introduced Olsavsky by saying, “We’re honored to have Mr. Olsavsky here to help answer your questions and trace his journey from his start here in the Reber Building many years ago, through his time now as chief financial officer at Amazon.”

Olsavsky encouraged students to have a positive, problem-solving attitude in their careers.

He said, “When you take a job, figure out what you are going to do to make that job better and be the best person who ever took that job, and also hand it off to the next person well.”  

During the session, Olsavsky also spoke at length about the importance of being a lifelong learner.

“You don’t stop when you get your degree here. Those skills will eventually become obsolete,” he said. “What you have to do is keep learning and making sure you’re purposeful about the career experiences you want to have.”

“We were honored that Brian was able to share his insights with our students,” said Karen Thole, distinguished professor and mechanical engineering department head. “His enthusiasm and credentials resulted in an incredibly impactful experience!”

View pictures from the event on Flickr.

Last Updated April 18, 2019