My sinusoidal relationship with food!

About a year ago, I was working with a consultancy firm and was winding up another all-nighter. Groggy-eyed and amped on caffeine, my team was compiling the decks and excel models that had to be presented at 8 AM. I finally shut my eyes at 5 AM after closing all the slides and excels with my team. 

Hard work paid off and the presentation went well – the stakeholders were pleased. Still, it wasn’t the impact I wanted. I had a nagging feeling that I was needed elsewhere.

I spent the entire next week wondering whether management consulting was my calling and if there was another industry where I wanted to create an impact! 

Who had thought it would be FOOD!

I had had a sinusoidal personal relationship with food – from being an obese teenager to transforming into what one would consider a fitness enthusiast. I had ‘evolved’ from having an emotional relationship with food to a purely functional one (of course, the occasional stress-induced binge remains but some skeletons are best left in the closet). This relationship took its toll – I had to continuously experiment with different meal plans and monitor my body’s response to them. It took me 5 years to figure out what ‘worked’ for me! 

In my mind, however, it didn’t mean everyone had to go through the same painstaking journey. I wanted to simplify this process for others. 

Cut to the present, now as a member of the Global Growth team at Zomato, I am a step closer to doing that.

My entryway into the food industry

It has been a year of being a Zoman and the journey has been nothing short of an enthralling roller coaster ride. Within a span of a few months, I have been a part of three different teams at Zomato and have worked on 10 independent workstreams. 

The Global Growth role at Zomato – as impressive (-ly ambiguous) as it sounds – is very similar to the game of Catan. You spend an incredible amount of time devising a strategy to win (read: intense problem solving), followed by a rigorous phase of implementing it (read: execution! execution! execution!). The only difference is that in Catan you have to build roads and townships and collect cards with the combined objective of accumulating points. Whereas, in Global Growth, the objective is fluid – you may be working with the Supply team on optimising packaging one day and the very next day, on a product-market fit for your health-focused customers. 

You turn up every day not knowing what problem you might end up solving.

My first stint at Z was with Supply – the team responsible for building the backbone of this industry – our massive restaurant partner network. At that time, we were working to improve key restaurant-driven levers that shape our customer experience. From working with partners to drive greater accuracy in predicting their food preparation time, to launching pan-India training drives on food packaging – my biggest learning from Supply was stakeholder management. It takes a lot of convincing for partners to invest in the right practices in the short term to reap longer-term benefits.

Customer-first. Always.

Before I could start seeing hints of complacency within Supply, I was roped into Customer Delight – the team of unsung heroes responsible for extinguishing all kinds of fires. 

What started as a two-week brainstorming activity to redefine the way we understood customer concerns, soon stretched to a high-intensity 4-month stint where we shared our new mindset with over 4,000 vendor-side agents and built an in-house “super team” of 30 associates, committed to not just ‘support’ but delight customers. The most valuable lesson learnt here was to always be customer-first

Something I found myself revisiting in every subsequent workstream.

And next came the dream team – the Healthy team! 

I found my calling and place in the Healthy team – my next foray after Customer Delight. The Healthy team is determined to build a product that has seen multiple solutions in the past but not one that stuck and tasted success. The product we are building will hopefully drive a paradigm shift in how we treat food – from an emotional dependency to a more functional one.

Although each leg of the Global Growth journey has had its own set of learnings, one that was common to all was that you can create an impact in everything you do at Z, all you need is the right combination of grit, promise, and compassion. 

Who knows what the next few months or years have in store for me! 

This article is written by Aaqib Ahmad as a part of our new series called ‘A Slice of Zoman Life’ wherein Zomans share their journeys, learnings, and experiences at Zomato. Stay tuned to know more about the life and culture at Z.


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