Alumni Spotlight

A look at distinguished alumnus of the Management and Organization department at The Pennsylvania State Smeal College of Business.

Portrait of Lia Tjotjos.

Lia Tjotjos

Class of 2013

  1. What is your academic rundown?  I graduated from Penn State in 2013 with a degree in Business Management with focuses on entrepreneurship and international business. I was also actively involved with Whiplash [dance organization] and THON. I joined Amazon in 2013 through the college-hire program and now have eight years of experience in Operations, Human Resources, Customer Service, and Program Management. I recently joined the Amazon Care team, Amazon’s telemedicine and healthcare app, where I lead program and operations teams launching and supporting new service lines for patients.

  2. What do you enjoy most about your current position? Each time I take on a new role I assess whether I will have the ability to lead teams through difficult challenges and learn new things. I’m fortunate that my current position accomplishes both.

  3. How did your Management coursework prepare you for your first job after Penn State? My management coursework helped me to provide a framework and a language to navigate different situations. Starting out, I realized that I lacked context compared to more tenured employees, who had background, experience, and time in their roles. My management coursework did not replace those items but they provided a starting point. The coursework helped as a guide as I explored other experiences of my own.

  4. What advice do you have for students majoring in Management? Two pieces of advice: 1. You might not start out in your dream job. As a young professional, I did not know what I wanted to do but I was willing to put myself out there and try things even if they were considered “unattractive or hard” positions. I applied to more than 150 jobs and received less than 10 offers. I had a hunch about Amazon and took a chance on it even though it meant starting my career in Winchester, KY and not in a big city, which was my dream at the time. By being open and confident in my ability to learn, its led me to paths in my career that I had no idea it would take me. Its taught me what I like and what I don’t like and each step continues to refine my values and who I want to be each time. Take chances, work hard, and enjoy the journey. 2. Be vulnerable. When I first heard this advice, I was resistant to adopt it given my role as a female leader (at the time, I was the only female and by far the youngest manager at the site). I thought I needed to demonstrate strength and power to show credibility and leadership. As I practiced acknowledging my opportunities, being empathic, and sharing my personal experiences with my direct reports and other co-workers, I saw the impact of what being vulnerable can do for others. By being vulnerable, I believe it’s established stronger credibility between my co-workers and has made me a stronger, more conscientious leader.

  5. What is your favorite Penn State memory? There are so many amazing memories but the one that stands out most of all is dancing on stage at THON. It was my senior year, Whiplash was performing with our THON child, Emma. I’ll never forget the 15K people cheering her on, as she came on stage to perform with us. I still get chills thinking about how strong she was and what it meant for her to join us.