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People
Nov 9, 2022
3
 min read

In honor of Veterans Day, we sat down with Zach West, leader of [email protected], to discuss why veterans are an asset to businesses and the importance of celebrating service members.

As a remote-first company, we work hard to keep our distributed team connected and provide an environment where employees can grow, learn, and celebrate their authentic selves. Our employee resource groups (ERGs) play an essential role in that effort by expanding our culture to be more inclusive.

[email protected] was one of the first ERGs to be formed, with the goal of connecting employees who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, their families, and nonveteran colleagues to foster a culture of camaraderie, offer support, and advocate for veteran recruitment, retention, and promotion.

In honor of Veterans Day, we sat down with the ERG’s leader, Zach West, Director of Customer Success Management and former Green Beret in the U.S. Army Special Forces, to get the inside scoop on [email protected], why veterans are an asset to companies, and the importance of celebrating service members.

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Tell us a bit about [email protected]

We have about 20 members, including 11 or so veterans. In addition to being a community and support forum, we’ve done a few events over the years, including interviewing a veteran business owner about his journey from the Armed Forces to running Southern Pines Brewing Company, and hosting a donation drive to benefit Razom, a nonprofit sending emergency supplies to Ukraine.

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Why are veterans an asset to companies?

People who are involved in civic organizations are doing something that's greater than themselves. They tend to walk away with a better understanding of how to operate as a team and stay focused on their work. That type of selflessness benefits businesses as a whole because people are committed to the cause and will look out for one another. Veterans come from a mission-first background, so we will do whatever it takes to accomplish the end goal, leading to more efficient and productive companies.

What are some challenges facing veterans in the workplace?

Companies often overlook veterans as an underrepresented community. In reality, veterans are a diverse and vibrant group whose members intersect lines of gender, sexuality, and ability. What ties us together is a shared commitment to service, patriotism, and volunteerism. Companies should lean in and learn from their veteran community through inclusive practices, celebration, and recognition.

How is [email protected] working to change that?

I want to make sure that our group is not just a support forum, but also focused on celebration. We highlight veterans in our company by honoring their service, engaging in conversations around current events, assisting non-profits who benefit places like Ukraine, and ultimately doing the best we can to create a welcoming environment.

Looking ahead, I’d love to see our company benefit the broader community, including hiring more veterans, partnering with other ERGs at Olo, and donating to a veterans-focused organization.

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How can nonveterans show their support on Veterans Day and year-round?

Simply by being involved in different veterans organizations or nonprofits. There are a lot of awareness and support runs/charity races that exist out there. If there are local events going on, just showing up to support the cause is great.

Head to our People & Culture page to learn more about our ERGs, what it’s like to work at Olo, and our current job openings.

Photo Credit: Benjamin Faust from Unsplash

People
Oct 24, 2022
4
 min read

Get to know Priya Thinagar, Olo’s EVP of Technology, and what fuels her desire to help restaurants grow.

Team Olo

Inspired by Olo’s growth journey and steadfast commitment to helping restaurants do more with less, Priya Thinagar took on the role of Executive Vice President of Technology in late 2021.

Since joining, she has led our Product, Engineering, and Design teams to create best-in-class digital ordering experiences for off-premise and dine-in guests.

We recently sat down with Thinagar to find out why she chose to work at Olo, highlights from her first year on the job, the key to effective leadership, and more.

Why did you join Olo?

Restaurants are the stronghold of local communities. They act as impactful gathering places where people build relationships and make memories. But it's tough running a restaurant business—dealing with labor shortages, talent acquisition, and low margins. I thought of how cool it would be to help these local businesses thrive and do more with technology. Working in the intersection of two things I like the most, technology and food, is one of the reasons I chose Olo.

Additionally, as an aspiring entrepreneur, working in a founder-led organization meant learning from the best to focus on long-term guidance. A founder sees the company as their life’s work, so they are highly motivated to think about the long-term. I know from reading about successful founders that they have an owner’s mindset—speeding up decisions and a bias for action. Add a notch of purpose and you have this amazing formula that can drive individuals to impactful careers.

Lastly, when I started a year ago, Olo was going through a phase of intense scale. Having read “Blitzscaling” by Reid Hoffman and seeing the energy in fast-paced scaling to build sustainable organizations, I wanted to be at the center of the action-packed journey on this rocket ship.

Tell us a little bit about what you do.

I lead Product, Engineering, and Design for Olo’s core products and platform. Our mission is to remove any friction in the ordering experience, irrespective of the medium chosen to order. Our teams focus on reliability and scale, deeply embracing a data-driven culture to push our limits on being an elite organization.

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Looking back on your first year at Olo, what are you most proud of?

First of all, I’m proud of the Omnivore acquisition, where we saw the potential of the data and sync with POS which unlocks new product opportunities and a strong technical team. In the last few months, bringing the Omnivore data together with Olo’s rich order data, and being able to drive insights for capacity, has been fun to watch. The best is yet to come.

The second is Borderless Olo Pay—from ideation to minimum viable product (MVP) in less than two quarters of bringing together a team. We set a clear vision and focus for them and let them autonomously deliver. To see guests saving credit card information so they can checkout without friction across Olo’s network of restaurants has been rewarding.

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Looking ahead, what are you most excited about?

I see the potential of bringing the best guest experiences and operational excellence for our brands through our data science initiatives. We have seen accuracy in order promise times with just the order and make-time data. The possibilities are limitless. 

The next generation of guests is technologically savvy, prefers personalization, and expects brands to meet them where they are. With restaurants investing in digital enhancements to appeal to this hyper-connected guest population, I see a lot of opportunities for Olo to help our brands revolutionize their business through technology.

Name three things you love about working at Olo.

1. The problems we solve with a ground ball mentality—there is never a dull moment. 2. The pace at which we operate helps our brands solve complex problems in a timely manner. 3. And, most importantly, my team and the leadership on my teams.

What makes a great leader?

Great leaders make hard choices in order to enhance the lives of others around them. They also have a blend of humility and unparalleled will to lead others in service of a cause that is bigger than themselves.

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Any advice for aspiring women in tech?

My favorite woman leader, Eleanor Roosevelt, said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Remain positively curious and remember that the future is what you make it to be, so dream big.

To learn more about Olo and apply for one of our job openings, visit our careers page.