From intern to game-changer: How Yashal Kanungo is using AI to re-imagine advertising at Amazon

Yashal Kanungo

As a Senior Applied Scientist on the AI Gen team at Amazon Ads, Yashal Kanungo is at the forefront of transforming the world of advertising. Here Yashal shares his progression from intern to innovator.

Hi, Yashal. Can you tell us a bit more about your role?

I work in the realm of generative artificial intelligence (AI). My focus is on image and text generation foundational models, a technology that takes a variety of user inputs and generates text and images. It’s a blend of research and applied science, constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in image generation. It’s a very exciting space to work in.

How does your work re-imagine advertising?

Our work is a game-changer for advertisers of all sizes. We've developed models that automatically generate headlines and images. So businesses that may not have in-house resources now have access to a free creative development tool that helps them create more engaging ads to tell their product stories. It’s not just about helping advertisers more easily and efficiently create rich imagery; it's about empowering advertisers to reach their target audiences and help bring their brand stories to life.

Can you share more about your journey from intern to Senior Applied Scientist at Amazon?

I began as an intern, working on web page classification to determine ad suitability. Over the years, I've worked on modeling, ad moderation, and more. My managers have always been supportive by showing a lot of trust and increasing my responsibilities. Then my career began to accelerate. I was promoted and moved to Seattle, where I’m now pushing the boundaries to launch generative AI tools.

How has Amazon’s culture helped your growth and development?

Amazon fosters an innovative mindset in all its employees. New ideas are driven by employees, not just management—so ideas are democratized, and everyone gets a say.

I haven't had much formal training, but I’ve been mentored by managers and other senior scientists who are open to teaching and helping me grow.

Amazon also has a culture of invention and learning, and the impact of your work is tangible. I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to grow alongside Amazon Ads, and now I’m keen to help the next generation of interns.

Tell us about life in Seattle and the transition from India.

Seattle is amazing. The transition was smoother than expected, as the work culture and challenges remained consistent. I’ve been doing a lot of hikes in national parks. I've also become quite the collector of fridge magnets, which reflect my adventures here. I might have to get a bigger fridge!

What’s different about working at Amazon Ads?

There’s no other place like it, especially for scientists. Where else would you be able to do research, then apply your solutions at scale? It's startup-level coolness with global impact.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to Amazon?

Do it now.

There are so many opportunities for mentorship and growth. As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky says, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”