Wayfair Tech Blog

Four Questions with Tulia Plumettaz

Tulia horizontal headshot.jpg

We recently celebrated International Women’s Month. What does this mean to you? How did you celebrate it?

The first thought that comes to mind is how fortunate I am to have been born in this time and into a family where opportunities were vast. It wasn’t long ago in the US when your gender not only defined the odds of a bright future, it even affected the odds of your family investing in your future. Unfortunately, this is still true in many places in the world, but we have come a long way, thanks in part to many incredible women who have blazed the path for people like me. Is there still much to be done? Of course! But I am thankful to those who came before me.

As for celebrating International Women’s Month, for me, it’s more of a time for reflection. When you look at the contributions women have made in the history of humankind, it was not until very recently that we started to shine a light on those who have been instrumental in driving these movements for equal opportunities. And not just for women but for different groups of people who have also been marginalized for some time.

These trailblazers are role models, and today, those women who have achieved certain positions in technology and other fields where we have historically been underrepresented should step up and be role models. Growing up, that person was my mother. In my family, my mom was the parent climbing the corporate ladder. That was very unusual for the 1980s, and it still serves as a constant reminder of how pivotal representation is for those coming behind us.

How have you seen Wayfair supporting women in technology?

I’m a big believer in the saying actions speak more than words which epitomizes Wayfair. Just take one look, and you see we have a female CTO and many women who have climbed the corporate ladder, not just in the technology group but in different areas throughout the business.

Another quality that stands out is our commitment to partnering with employees to help them grow within the business. Whether you’re the CTO, VP, or manager, our teams are our partners in crime and we are invested in growing their talent. For a business laser-focused on outcomes, it would be easy to lose focus of this partnership and the importance of helping employees grow and succeed. Wayfair has always made sure that commitment remains front and center.

What have you worked on over the past year that typifies Wayfair’s innovative culture and helped execute the company’s goals?

In the past year, our teams focused on science investments within the company's top priorities. This ensures we are investing in near-term needle movers as well as areas with a longer journey and outsized return on investments. This latter is particularly key for our science investments, given the incredibly fast pace at which novel developments are coming.

One innovation that occured last year were the improvements we made for customers around faster and more reliable deliveries. When a customer places an order, the fulfillment can come from a Wayfair or partner dropship location. This also includes a variety of transportation choices, with inherent unknowns that can impact our ability to deliver orders to the customer on time. We have a lot of choices but also unknowns in our Supply Chain. These two contrasting elements make machine learning a perfect fit for this effort. We are particularly excited about this given the unconventional nature of this use case, the fact that it involved many teams coming together to deliver the end value, and the meaningful business outcomes that have come as a result including incremental GRS.

Another initiative I am excited about is our investments in leveraging machine learning which we are using to better and more cost-effectively help our customers when they hit a snag or are looking for support with an order. Efforts in this space, Sales & Service, are yielding exciting outcomes, where we are able to meet customer resolution expectations while reducing our costs.

Needless to say, these are just some examples of the very broad set of Machine Learning enablements we have delivered in the last year across our business.

What do you do outside of work for fun?

I love to learn a little bit about everything. For example, I’ve been learning German for the last year and a half, and before that, French. By learning languages, I can better enjoy those cultures and the little nuances more fully, whether in the food, the people, or how they act and react.

I also enjoy sports and competitions. A few weeks ago, I ran the Berlin half marathon, and, last November, the BAA Boston half marathon. When I’m not running, I get back to learning mode and gain new insights and perspectives through podcasts. I especially like listening to podcasts on politics, history, and economics. I recommend The Intelligence from the Economist. Check it out!