The drive and ambition that saw Keith rise from the humble rank of enlisted soldier to commissioned officer has helped him become an integral part of Amazon Australia, sharing the skills he learned during an action-packed 28-year army career.

For the past 18 months, Keith, 48, has been “deployed” to Amazon’s first Australian robotics site in Kemps Creek, and this father-of-two reckons it’s as rewarding as serving for his country.

When he decided he’d had enough of being deployed the world’s hot spots in the Royal Corps of Signals, he decided to seek another challenge, and spent three years preparing for a new life, studying for his master’s degree leadership and management.

Former army officer and Amazon operations manager Keith Langan in uniform

“My first job after leaving the army was as an assistant general manager of a holiday park,” he says, explaining that even after he was promoted to general manager just six months later, he decided it wasn’t a good fit.

“It didn’t align with my own values. I wanted to find a company that was more suited to what I believe in. The basic values of integrity, honesty, trust. The common sort of values that you gain within the military,” he says.

The company that he found most inspiring was Amazon and he joined Amazon UK initially as a transport operations manager at one of its robotic sites, before seeking another challenge and taking up a role as an area manager, overseeing a team of 100 employees who pick and pack products for customer orders.

“I had no knowledge of Amazon robotics and how all of the magic happens inside the fulfilment centres, and I wanted to challenge myself and I learned to manage people on that process,” he says.

But after a lifetime of travel and adventure, he was inspired to change courses again after spotting an advertisement for a job in Kemps Creek, Sydney. “I thought Kemps Creeks sounded very Australian and very cool,” he laughs.

Former army officer and Amazon operations manager wearing his Amazon military shirt

He got the role after a thorough interview process and moved to Sydney - with Amazon facilitating relocation - to begin the next phase of his Amazon career as the operations manager for inbound in charge of more than 200 employees, 18 months ago. “One of my last commanding officers in the army was from Sydney and I’d heard so much about the place, I decided I had to come and see it,” he says.

“The soft skills and the transferrable skills you learn in the military map quite easily to the Amazon leadership principles. Things like earning trust, insisting on the highest standards, ownership, all the things we have as values here are very akin to the military.

“I think in the military you become a generalist in things like HR, logistics, project management and you bring all those skills with you to a business like Amazon.

“In the military we have a mission and want to achieve the mission, whereas at Amazon we have the customers and our mission is to deliver smiles.”