Jon Schechter
Home Region

Cambridge, MA

Undergrad Education

MIT, Mechanical Engineering, 2008

Previous Experience

Amazon Robotics (formerly Kiva Systems); aPriori Product Cost Management

“It wasn’t a financial decision, but a long-term investment in myself.”

As an engineer at Amazon Robotics (formerly Kiva Systems), Jon Schechter viewed the future, almost literally, from the ground floor. “We worked on fleets of orange robots that move warehouse inventory,” he explains. “They drive underneath the shelves to find and lift inventory and deliver it to personnel on the periphery. In some buildings, as much as one-third of the inventory is in motion at the same time. It’s a mesmerizing orchestration of engineering—the whole building is a self-reorganizing organism.”

Behind the technology, Jon saw impressive people. “I had a lot of respect for management at the company,” he says. “Many of them were HBS alums. I wanted to emulate their leadership skills.”

After eight years at Amazon, Jon wanted “a bigger role for myself. Education is an accelerated way to learn leadership.” With a wife, a young daughter, and a well-established career in hand, dropping work for a two-year MBA was not a choice he took lightly. “It wasn’t a financial decision,” says Jon, “but a long-term investment in myself. Two years, in the long run, is a blip. But what I get out of it is unique. I’ll probably go through many jobs, but I’ll learn things here I couldn’t get anywhere else.”

Building leadership through relationships

Asked to reflect on what leadership means at HBS, Jon says, “We place it in a very human context. There is no one procedure or prescriptive answer for any problem; resolutions depend on human relationships. Good managers have done their work in advance of difficult situations: building trust, training employees, demonstrating their own competence—all of this to earn confidence. In many cases, when things go poorly, managers simply didn’t have the right relationships in place.”

The relationships within HBS are essential for learning. “I’m amazed that no matter the subject,” Jon says, “we can articulate arguments from many sides and imagine many paths forward. There may be no perfect answer, but a thoughtful examination gives you confidence to move one way or another.”

For the summer, Jon is working with Lux Capital but based remotely from Boston. “The nice thing about my track,” he says, “is that if I decide to do my own entrepreneurial venture, the school has lots of support for that: the Rock Center, the i-lab, or independent work with a professor.”

Jon’s future remains open, although he is attracted to “the kind of high tech that takes a long time to come to fruition, something that requires engineers from different disciplines, more complex development cycles and research.”