Long serving Milton Keynes employees help Amazon celebrate 25th anniversary

This year Amazon is celebrating 25 years of operation in the UK. The company launched in the UK in 1998, opening its first UK fulfilment centre in Milton Keynes in 1999.
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Peter Bourke, Shirley Bourke and Niko Lleshaj have worked at Amazon in Milton Keynes for over 20 years – making them some of Amazon’s longest serving team members in the UK.

Peter and Shirley Bourke work in the picking department at Amazon in Milton Keynes. The pair have been married for 40 years and joined the company just over 20 years ago.

Peter and Shirley met working at General Motors in Dunstable. They both joined Amazon’s Milton Keynes fulfilment centre in March 2003, and have been there ever since. Peter said:

Peter and Shirley BourkePeter and Shirley Bourke
Peter and Shirley Bourke

“Before we were made redundant from General Motors, several companies came in who were hiring, and Amazon was one of them. We liked the sound of the company and applied, and only ended up having a few weeks off before starting in Amazon. We have now been here over 20 years!”

Peter and Shirley have seen a lot of changes at Amazon during their time. Shirley added:

“We used to have a list on paper of items and a pen, whereas now everything is done on computers and there’s so much technology. When we first started, you could spend hours in the day picking out CDs – it felt like that was all anyone was buying! Now, you could go days without picking a single CD. It’s mad how the times change.”

Peter spoke of one of his most memorable days on the job. He said: “I remember when Harry Potter came out, and half the building was dedicated to pallets and pallets of books. The press was here, and it was all anyone was talking about.” Shirley added, “Early on in our career at Amazon, Jeff Bezos came and visited. We had a meeting with him in the canteen, and it’s funny to look back on it because it was before you would have ever heard his name in the media. We’ve also seen some famous groups here, including One Direction. They launched an album here.”

Niko LleshajNiko Lleshaj
Niko Lleshaj

As Peter and Shirley look toward retirement, they have some advice for others thinking of joining Amazon:

“Go for it! We have met a lot of very different, great people and have really enjoyed our time at Amazon. There is always something going on, and so many opportunities to grow and progress. We have been offered different opportunities through the years, but always found we were happy where we were. There are so many Affinity Groups and opportunities to volunteer, too – something for everyone, really.”

Niko Lleshaj works at Amazon’s fulfilment centre in Milton Keynes as an inbound support specialist. Niko joined the company 23 years ago after a career in the Albanian army. His role has changed throughout his career, starting as a stow employee and moving around different departments at the Milton Keynes fulfilment centre.

“During an army career, you have to grow up fast,” Niko shared. “You learn discipline quickly, and I feel that many of the skills I developed in the military have transferred into my career at Amazon. I have been involved with almost every process in the building at some stage in my career. That is something I love about Amazon – every day is day one, every day is different. You get to interact with so many processes and people – the variety is great.”

Niko explains that he’s recently joined a group of fellow members of the military community.

“I have recently gotten more involved with the Amazon Warrior’s group, the company’s affinity group for ex-military personnel. My last manager used to be in the military too, and because of him I have become more involved. I try to stay in touch as much as I can with what is going on in the group as it makes me feel like I’m part of something even bigger at Amazon.”

Speaking about the most memorable day of his career, Niko shared:

“After I had worked at Amazon for five years, I was chosen along with another person to receive our five-year service badge from Jeff Bezos himself. It was a really cool experience to have our service rewarded in that way. I will always remember that day!”

Niko has some advice for those pursuing a career like his:

“Don’t waste time and don’t stay in your comfort zone. I regret that sometimes I held back and wished that I had taken that step forward. Time lost is something you can’t get back, so don’t wait for opportunities to come to you – seek them out and take that leap of faith.”

Amazon employees receive competitive pay and comprehensive benefits. Pay starts at a minimum of £11.80 or £12.50 per hour depending on location and employees are offered a comprehensive benefits package, including private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection and an employee discount as well as a company pension plan.

To find out more about a career with Amazon, visit Amazon Jobs.