Disrupting retail: an inside look at Whole Foods tech careers


Whole Foods has changed the way people shop for food. It offers the finest natural and organic foods in over 460 stores, and nourishes a highly passionate team. In fact, it’s been on Fortune’s Best Places to Work 20 years in a row. This mighty retailer is now transitioning into a tech company (due in no small part to its acquisition by Amazon), offering more than just a place to find your next tech job, but exciting opportunities to combat real challenges with creativity and innovation.

So we went behind the scenes of this Austin’s best tech workplace to learn more.

While exploring life and tech careers at Whole Foods, we interviewed leadership to bring you the information most impactful in your search for a new role—their values, office culture and how they’re building a talented tech team that says yes to a challenge (and enjoys a 20% discount on their favorite Whole Foods products and natural foods).

The office and culture at Whole Foods

Austin, Texas is where Whole Foods’ story began and is still home to its HQ. Inside, you’ll find hundreds of team members united in tech (and nutritious food) to make the world a healthier place.

Open and sunny office spaces encourage a real human connection, driving collaboration and invention. Their mission and cherished values line the walls of their stores, including values to promote growth and happiness for team members, give back to the community and according to Jen Davis, Director of Global Technology Recruiting, “deliver the best continually for [their] customers.”

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Of course, good food is never too far. A short walk downstairs leads employees to Whole Foods’ flagship market and rows of food: tacos, plant and protein bowls, organic veggies and so much more. An afternoon meditation or rooftop yoga session isn’t out of the question, either.

Celebrating failure while building on success in product and engineering

Product and engineering teams at Whole Foods fully embrace the mindset to celebrate failure because they know that each failure gives them more chances to learn and realize amazing results.

Whole Foods encourages its employees to dig deeper and ask questions that uncover opportunities to innovate, and thrive on knowing their efforts solve problems aligned with larger organizational goals. Unsurprisingly, this feeds a strong sense of purpose and employee engagement. In the words of Tania Lincoln, Engineering Team Lead:

“There are amazing opportunities to learn. [You] always feel like you’re part of this great project to help either solve a problem for Whole Foods, help out your business partners and there’s just a lot of opportunity for growth. I always felt engaged with Whole Foods and I just love the company.”

And because growth is highly encouraged at Whole Foods, team members are supported through any career transition, whether making a lateral move to focus on new deliverables or shifting to a leadership role.

Whole Foods empowers engineers to contribute in a meaningful way. This starts with co-location—sitting individual contributors alongside leadership and business partners to work side-by-side in a collaborative space. When speaking with JC Jammal, VP of Digital Technology, we learned that:

“When it comes time to talk about strategy or what we’re building for our customers, technology gets a voice in that conversation. Sometimes we’re driving that conversation. It’s pretty unique to Whole Foods from what I’ve seen and something that I think really adds to how compelling of an offering we build for our customers.”

As the company continues to grow, engineering teams are kept small to maintain that culture. In fact, teams typically have fewer than 10 members and own end-to-end delivery including production support. With full ownership, it’s easy to see the importance of being adaptable, curious and flexible—three traits Whole Foods seeks in engineering candidates.

Recruiting on values to hire tech talent

Delighting customers and team member growth and happiness falls under Whole Foods’ core values. But along with core values that reflect what’s most important to the organization, Whole Foods follows a set of leadership principles. Equally as valuable to their success, leadership principles include creating a trusting environment and showing emotional intelligence through traits like integrity, commitment and self-awareness.

Celebrating individuality is another mindset Whole Foods embraces—an influential ingredient in creating work/life harmony. While staying true to core values and principles, employees are always encouraged to bring their whole self to work:

“We’re all individuals. We’re all unique and we celebrate that here.” -Jen Davis, Director of Global Technology Recruiting

Whole Foods brings together two tech components: (1) the retail store experience with tech infrastructure and (2) the digital side which includes the Whole Foods app, Prime Now delivery and discounts for Amazon Prime members. This offers a range of career paths and products for tech candidates to choose from.

Beyond hiring tech candidates with the right skills, Whole Foods wants to know the why behind the apply, because they’re looking for people that believe in their mission and align with their core values. On top of this, creative candidates willing to learn and develop stand out from the rest.

Because Whole Foods is a strong advocate of diversity and inclusion, they make hires based on talent and the ability to do great work rather than following traditional hiring criteria (e.g., higher education or GPA requirements). Their leaders are willing to provide training and mentorship to any hires that are great cultural fits, but may have small role-related knowledge gaps.

To learn if Whole Foods is the right match for you, Andres Traslavina, Director of Global Executive Recruiting recommends:

“Go to the stores. Understand if this is a culture that would make [you] happy. Learn about our leadership principles, learn about retail, learn about the future of tech in retail.”

Whole Foods in Austin is hiring now and looking for talent driven to disrupt retail (and live their core values). Find your fit and learn more about Whole Foods and other amazing Austin tech companies recruiting tech candidates: Atlassian, The Zebra and WP Engine.

For opportunities with companies like these, try Seen. We’ll connect you with top companies in 90+ markets to find your perfect role.

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