Can you really have too much of a good thing?

Amazon may not think so, at least when it comes to working with the Tauber Institute for Global Operations. The behemoth online company previously dabbled with a project or two with the program, until they saw the kind of results involved. Then they really paid attention.

The Tauber Institute, a joint venture between the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering, works together with a wide range of industry partners to facilitate cross-disciplinary education in global operations management. A core element of the program consists of company-sponsored team projects where students work on substantive issues to earn or save companies millions of dollars from the team project results.Tauber students at Amazon

The 2017 Tauber Team Projects alone resulted in $575 million in anticipated savings according to sponsoring company calculations, an average of $18.5 million per project over three years.

This kind of result makes a company sit up and take notice. Amazon did — and found fourteen business challenges that these talented teams could tackle over the last two years.

Not only were these teams able to find creative solutions to fulfillment, cross dock, and tracking issues, but they were a fantastic way for the company to recruit a talent pool that is in very high demand.

Navjot Singh (U-M 2013 MBA), a Senior Manager of Tech Program Management at Amazon, has served as the project supervisor for Tauber student teams. He shares, “The Tauber institute at Michigan has been a great partner for Operations and Supply Chain teams at Amazon. I am extremely impressed with Tauber students’ technical skills and ability to approach the most difficult problems in supply chain. In a recent project, a Tauber intern team traveled to fulfillment centers and worked with business stakeholders to come up with a tangible solution which will have a positive impact on the entire North America network. I am looking forward to working with Tauber students on more projects in the future.”

Ray Muscat, industry director at the Tauber Institute, echoes this sentiment: “This is a great symbiotic relationship: our students provide uniquely qualified problem-solving capabilities to our industry sponsors, and our sponsors provide an important opportunity for our students to address strategic real-world challenges. This experience allows our students to use the skills they develop as part of the Tauber experience and helps prepare them for successful careers in operations.”

The competitive program is a big draw for U-M students who see the value in interdisciplinary application of their academic experience at a company that may hire them after they graduate. Wenqian Ma worked on a project conducting pilot studies on a new technology for implementation on the Amazon fulfillment processes in 2017 and will soon be a Senior Product Manager with the company. “At Amazon, I did not feel that I was only working as an intern. I literally had the ownership on a technological product, which provided a unique experience to feel what it is really like to work at Amazon.”

Tauber students at work in fulfillment

He enjoyed the culture and experience there, so much so that he didn’t hesitate to accept a job offer after his internship ended. In fact, his entire team was hired by Amazon, as are 95% of the interns who work on Tauber programs for the company.

Ma shared, “I think by supporting real world experience with top universities like U-M, companies like Amazon have the opportunities to find the most talented students who have clear career goals that align with the company culture and goals. The companies will be able to create an excellent pool of potential employees.”

Any they become better employees: “Through experiencing the company during the internship, the students will know about their strengths and weakness so after they come back to school, they know where to allocate their energy to better prepare for the full-time job.”

Recruiting top talent is a key driver for Amazon to engage at U-M, and they do it well. The company has been one of the top recruiters at both the Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering for the last few years.