Welcome to Meet Your Manager where you’ll get a chance to learn about the individuals driving ZeroCater’s growing sales engine to change a $169 billion industry with technology that helps companies build a better workplace culture through food.
- PD Wanjari
- Director of Engineering
- San Francisco
What did you do prior to joining ZeroCater and how did you end up at ZeroCater?
I was an Engineering Manager for Amazon’s Alexa and Prime divisions. At Alexa, I ran a team to build Alexa Communications, a capability that enables your favorite Alexa device to make and receive calls and messages. At Prime, I undertook the opportunity to take Prime to more countries, launch new benefits, and ensure the promise of Prime to every single customer. It was a unique opportunity where the customer engagement was improved and Prime was known beyond Free 2 day shipping.
Before Amazon, I worked in a similar capacity at Godaddy redefining engineering and take them to IPO, and Microsoft, building Windows Live and Windows Phones. I am an engineer with an MBA from the University of Washington, specializing in Leadership with the honor of Beta Gamma Sigma.
ZeroCater’s vision caught my attention. The more I read and talked to the people, the more and more I felt excited about the opportunity and the potential to make a real difference through food. I learned the power of Customer Obsession at Amazon, and after finding out that it is the most important value at ZeroCater, the decision to be a part of the ZeroCater journey was easy.
What is unique or motivating about the work you do at ZeroCater?
The untapped opportunity to bring joy in people’s lives through so obvious, but untouched arena of Food Intelligence, is my motivation. I have seen how people connect with each other while at the food table and build big ideas on paper napkins. It just made sense that when given the right food and a reason for employees to get to eat together, companies can be more efficient and smart. I think about the millions of working people around me and how we can solve this problem for them, at scale.
There are several other companies doing the food catering, but at ZeroCater, we literally mean Zero effort catering for the most satisfying food. Through the systems we are building, we are capturing every single data point and converting that into intelligence which will serve the customers better and better every time. It’s super exciting.
With Innovation at heart, and spirit to not give up, there is a culture of ownership, mutual trust, and zest to make things better. As part of the senior leadership team, I am committed to providing the right pasture for a culture where it’s all about innovation and execution, and zero tolerance to politics, bureaucracy, toxicity and competing with each other. This is just one another reason that makes me excited to go to work and continue making a difference.
Since you are fairly new to joining ZeroCater, what project or initiative are you most excited about?
The system we are building to continuously learn the evolving customer preferences, choices, and tastes, and then feed that back to improve the next offering, is what really pumps me up. It is a unique challenge with so many personalities, parameters, and variables, but if done correctly, the system can learn by itself over time and continue to improve the outcome. This becomes a part of the ZeroCater differentiator where it’s not just about feeding people, but a guarantee, a sustainable one, to our users, that their meal will be satisfying and getting better every time.
Which ZeroCater value resonates most with your team?
“Customer Obsession”. I feel that every other value originates from this one value. We ruthlessly prioritize our work in favor of our customers. It is never about quick gain, but how can we build that excitement in our customers that every dollar spent will be worth. Our leaders, our culinary partners, and our teams are vocally committed to this value, which builds a platform for the right decision making leading to a long term view on success. But more importantly, we don’t only pursue customer satisfaction, we long for their excitement and therefore continuously innovate towards that.
If there was one word or phrase that describes the ZeroCater culture, what would it be and why?
“Play like a champion today”. By making hard decisions and never giving up, we are committed to our customers and continuously improving. The passion with which everyone works is contagious. Every day feels like Day One, and it never runs short of excitement.
If you could pick three famous people as guests to your own special dinner party, who would you invite?
Actor-producer Mel Gibson, MasterChef Gordon Ramsay, and my wife Mani Wanjari.
My wife is a wonderful personality when it comes to being picky about food, giving valuable insights, and genuinely appreciating for what goes in. Gordon Ramsay is notorious to give critical feedback about the food and there is no better partner than him to get real feedback. Mel Gibson is my all-time favorite and has some interesting food choices. More importantly, with this trio, I think I can crank an idea or two on a paper napkin.
If you could only eat at one restaurant forever, what restaurant would it be?
PF Changs. I am a vegetarian, and to my delight, Chang’s never let me down with exactly what and how I want. I think that’s the way to win a customer. I remember at least two instances where I shared objective feedback of why I didn’t like the food, and they took it to their heart, fixed it, and now I am always happy to go back.
Click here to join PD’s team!