“What interests me the most is problem solving — and I love the process of finding optimal solutions.”
In September 2020, Fiona Tan joined the Wayfair leadership team, bringing her lifelong passion for problem-solving along with her. “Even when I’m booking travel, I love trying to figure out the most efficient way of flying from point A to point B,” said Fiona. “I think the space that Wayfair is in lends itself to that mindset—we’re looking at how we can continue to build and optimise systems in a way that can scale, be flexible, and stand the test of time.”
As Global Head of Customer and Supplier Technology, Fiona drives the continued growth of Wayfair’s world-class engineering organisation while setting the vision and strategy for the development of systems as well as technologies that shape customer and supplier experiences.
Shaping those experiences comes with a unique set of challenges and opportunities. “The home category is a category that’s very driven by inspiration and emotion. It requires more depth of expertise and more innovation to help someone find what really connects with them on that level,” said Fiona. “It’s sometimes hard for people to even describe what it is they’re searching for—it’s not like buying batteries. That makes it such an interesting challenge in terms of, how can I help you find something that you can’t even quite articulate? How can I figure that out for you? It’s a category that’s always going to require a lot of innovation and forward thinking to be able to figure some of those things out.”
Fiona notes that working on problems that are both technically challenging and are in domains she finds interesting has contributed to a gratifying career. “What we’re doing at Wayfair is problem-solving at a massive scale. For example, because we’re in such an inspiration-driven category, we want to provide lots of imagery from different angles and environments – across a catalogue of tens of millions of items – so that shoppers can make informed decisions and find what they’re looking for easily. Making that happen at such a large scale requires real sophistication from a machine learning and data science perspective.”
Working in consumer technology, especially with a focus on the home category, is very dinner conversation worthy, Fiona has found. She points out that family and friends can always offer their ideas for how to improve something, and it’s exciting to be able to build technology that even non-technical people in your life can get excited about.
Fiona’s expertise spans from coast-to-coast, literally: she earned a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), right across the river from Wayfair’s global headquarters. Before Wayfair, Fiona served as senior vice president of U.S. Technology at Walmart, where she was responsible for innovation and engineering execution spanning its site, mobile app and all associate and merchant-facing technology across its e-commerce and stores business in the U.S. Her team also drove technology strategy and operational excellence across Walmart Labs.
“I couldn’t be more pleased to join Wayfair as it takes advantage of the incredible market opportunity ahead, particularly during such a pivotal moment in the company’s growth trajectory,” said Fiona. “We’re at an exciting point as a business—we have the right foundations to help us balance accelerating while being able to see around corners when looking ahead and maintaining flexibility. I look forward to being part of an incredible team and building upon this strong momentum as we continuously raise the bar in creating the best possible shopping experience for home.”
If you’re interested in working with Fiona, check out the engineering and technology positions we’re hiring for!