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Innovation an integral part of Future-focused Learning

30 October 2018

Innovation an integral part of Future-focused Learning at Marsden

Jonathon Meichtry, Principal Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services (with his daughters and Marsden Principal Narelle Umbers above), was the inaugural speaker at the Marsden Innovation Series, an exciting new initiative bringing innovative speakers to the school to address students, parents and the wider Marsden and business communities.

Samuel Marsden Collegiate School welcomed Jonathon Meichtry, Principal Solutions Architect
at Amazon Web Services, as the first presenter in the Marsden Innovation Series this week. The session was attended by Marsden Year 9-13 students, parents and members of the business community. Innovation is essential to growth at Amazon, not just a few big innovations every year, they need thousands of innovations every day. In the session Meichtry shared Amazon’s culture of innovation, a culture where they start with the customer and work backwards with everything they do. He showed examples of innovation appearing in unexpected ways and unexpected places across many different domains like books, groceries, video streaming and even delivery by drones. Meichtry shared how Amazon is a company of builders, the mechanisms they’ve developed to help people build and highlight how everyone at Amazon actively participates in the innovation process and constantly obsesses over our customers.

“It was fascinating to learn about the creative thinking and a willingness to fail that underlies the creation of new technologies at Amazon. These are principles we can bring into our own way of operating – in multiple areas of our programmes and thinking”, said Marsden’s Academic Director Margaret Adeane.

At Amazon, staff start their careers by building their own desk, a door from a hardware shop, with four legs bolted to it. This epitomises their philosophy that it’s a hands-on environment and is all about the experience at the front end – not the back end.

Assisted by his daughters, Jonathon demonstrated the voice activated ‘Alexa’ in operation – a device that interacts intuitively with everyday technology, to tell you anything from the weather to a joke. The most important part of the demonstration was to understand that even as the technology goes into production, the company is thinking ahead: what will the customer want next? How can it be supported? Attendees loved seeing Jonathon’s daughter demonstrate the Alexa taking a video of them that could then be used for wardrobe suggestions and purchases. Another great piece of technology was the dash wand used in the US to scan the barcodes of products in your pantry, or to speak into, which then translated into online grocery orders delivered directly to your door.

Meichtry’s demonstration was very much about thinking creatively to anticipate customer needs. Attendees learnt about Amazon Go – which offers the most advanced retail shopping technology in the world, where shoppers scan their phone on entry and then just put their shopping in their bag before walking out the door – no checkouts, no queues. Meichtry showed how creative thinking, inventiveness and the willingness to experiment and fail are behind some of the world’s most exciting innovations. “Jonathon’s presentation was a wonderful start to the Marsden Innovation Series. We’d like to thank Jonathon and the Meichtry girls for giving us so much to think about”, said Principal Narelle Umbers.

Samuel Marsden Collegiate School has been providing quality independent education for 140 years. Today it has two campuses. The Marsden School Karori campus provides Preschool education for boys and girls, and education for girls Years 1-13. Marsden Whitby provides education for boys and girls Years 7–13. As a not-for-profit organisation Marsden School expresses its mission in terms of what it ultimately wants to achieve for its students. That is to lay the foundations for lives of meaning, accomplishment and genuine happiness. Marsden develops confident, independent, creative, lifelong learners who are challenged to reach their academic and personal potential in a warm and supportive environment underpinned by Christian values.


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