Geek of the Week

Geek of the Week: Amazon’s David Ham takes Delight in his work and his function with LGBTQ group glamazon

David Ham. (Tessa Thewes Photo)

June is a busy month for David Ham. The senior video program manager at Amazon Web Services has plenty to do during his day job. But as the president of the Seattle chapter of glamazon, the tech giant’s LGBTQ affinity group, Ham has extra Pride in his responsibilities.

“I’ve been involved with glamazon since I started at Amazon almost three and a half years ago because it’s a passion of mine to be part of the community that continues to make Amazon an inclusive workplace for everyone,” Ham said.

We’re proud to call Ham our latest Geek of the Week.

According to Amazon, the company has 10 affinity groups, or employee resource groups, which bring employees together across businesses and locations around the world. Groups include Black Employee Network, [email protected], [email protected], and Amazon People With Disabilities. In 2018, there were more than 40,000 Amazonians in more than 190 affinity group chapters worldwide.

Before joining Amazon more than three years ago, Ham was a local television news reporter — most recently in Seattle at KIRO-TV. Before that, he reported in Virginia, Florida, and Massachusetts.

Ham graduated from Boston University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism. He grew up in Kentucky where both of his parents went to seminary to become pastors.

“I’m engaged to my partner, Calvin, and we’re getting married this fall in Seattle,” Ham said. “We live in Belltown with his teenage son.”

Learn more about this week’s Geek of the Week, David Ham:

What do you do, and why do you do it? I get to work with an amazing team that creates content to help our customers with self-service video solutions to use for AWS services. What’s cool about this video product is that we feature our own Cloud Support Engineers in the videos from sites around the globe. I love getting to work with so many different people to help our customers.

In my role as president of the Seattle chapter of glamazon, I work with fellow board members to be a resource for anyone interested in the LGBTQ community at Amazon and find ways we can engage with the community. I love doing this work because I want to let current, new, and prospective employees know that Amazon is a place where we embrace different opinions and accept people for who they are. You can be yourself, truly. I wasn’t out or completely comfortable being out at work for most of my life and Amazon is the first place where I felt like I could be my whole self any time or anywhere. A funny story — I remember posting pictures online from Seattle Pride and someone messaged me and said, “Wow, you’re really gay now.” I thought, “Yeah, I am.” And I was happy with that.

David Ham joins Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan for a celebration of Pride month and flag raising at Amazon’s HQ in Seattle. (Amazon Photo)

What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? Being a leader for an employee resource group is a significant time commitment on top of my day job but it is definitely rewarding. It’s also important. I love giving back, helping lift others, and celebrating such a supportive community.

Where do you find your inspiration? I’m inspired by my fiancé. He’s my biggest cheerleader. When I think I can’t do something, or I’m afraid of failing, he’ll give me the reassurance I need to push myself harder.

I’m also inspired by the people in my life — friends, family, colleagues. I love having one-on-one conversations to really connect and share ideas.

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? My iPhone. It keeps me connected to the important people in my life and allows me to take pictures of everything!

(Photo courtesy of David Ham)

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? It’s really important for me to have three monitors. I need them to work on videos, move around various documents, spreadsheets, etc. It just makes life easier.

On my desk, I have tchotchkes I’ve collected from my work travels at Amazon and a bottle of water. I try to drink at least 1 liter by the end of the work day.

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) I like keeping a simple list and striking out what’s been done. It makes me feel productive. During the week, I like my routine — I walk to work, pick up my Starbucks Americano on the way, and then have dinner at home. Weekends are all about relaxing.

Mac, Windows or Linux? Mac.

Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? Janeway. Girl power.

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Time machine.

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … Create a Yelp-like app for people to track allergies or dietary restrictions at restaurants. My fiancé’s son has a life-threatening nut allergy so we’re always super careful about restaurants and if there’s any cross-contamination on their kitchen lines. It would be great to just open an app to see clearly what the restaurant says about its practices and other users’ experiences at the establishment.

I once waited in line for … Ice cream at Molly Moon’s on Capitol Hill. That ice cream smell from the sidewalk makes the wait that much more agonizing!

Your role models: My mom. She and my dad immigrated to the U.S. in the late ’70s from South Korea and started a business here without having much. They both eventually became pastors, but my mom’s journey was more difficult because she was in a denomination that didn’t ordain women clergy. Determined, she found a denomination that did (The United Methodist Church). She also fought Stage 4 Cancer for five years before passing away. I believe that I get my own grit and determination from the example that she set for me.

Greatest game in history: The Game of Thrones (but not the last season, of course.)

Best gadget ever: Apple AirPods.

First computer: Packard Bell desktop tower.

Current phone: iPhone XR.

Favorite app: Spotify.

Favorite cause: The GSBA Scholarship Fund. Since 1991, the fund has sent LGBTQ and ally students to college to empower diverse leaders to create a better world for all.

Most important technology of 2019: Expansion of Amazon Go.

Most important technology of 2021: Blue Origin’s New Glenn Rocket.

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: Try to find ways outside of your day job to contribute to causes you care about. It’s super rewarding for me to contribute to glamazon at Amazon and it makes me feel more connected to the company and my job.

Twitter: @davidhamseattle

LinkedIn: David Ham

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