WW, previously known as Weight Watchers, is one of the best-known wellness brands in the U.S. today — and has been for roughly half a century.
And, back in 1963 when Weight Watchers was founded, the idea that data and technology would play a commanding role in those goals would have seemed outlandish — after all, personal computers themselves were still pretty outlandish. But today, the company uses the latest nutritional and behavioral science to help members eat healthier, move more and shift their mindset.
WW's app, including its social network, Connect, is core to its mission of promoting wellness, and the company has built a large team of engineers to drive that product forward. We recently caught up with that team in their gorgeous NYC digs to see what they're up to.
EMPLOYEES: 18,000; around 600 locally
WHAT THEY DO: Grounded in science, enabled by technology and powered by community, WW partners with individuals on their wellness and weight loss journey.
WHERE THEY DO IT: New York City, with offices in San Francisco and Toronto
DATA-MINDED: WW is less known for their tech stack, but it’s hard to imagine that will be the case for long — the fact is, the company has developed one of the most competitive data and software operations in town.
Steven Grosmark, Software Architect
Steve's work as an iOS Architect at WW can be broken into two main categories: One, molding the structure of the team's work by defining APIs and coding practices, and two, helping the team think through problems and advance their careers.
BEYOND WORK: Steven runs a coding school for middle and high school students in Tarrytown.
You recently stepped into your role as an iOS architect. What were you doing before and how is it different from the work you do today?
Prior to being promoted to iOS architect, I worked as a senior iOS engineer at WW. Before the transition, I spent more of my time doing the frontline work of creating and maintaining screens and views of the app. Today, I split my time between that kind of work and more architectural tasks, like creating frameworks for the other iOS engineers and working on app-wide features.
[When I started at WW], I remember that everyone was super supportive and consistently encouraged my progress.”
How collaborative is your role? How integrated are you with the work being done with other teams across the company?
My role is very collaborative. Right now I'm working with a small group of iOS engineers to create a new architectural pattern for building out individual screens and managing the interplay between them. We have lots of debates about the various technical aspects needed and are obsessing over the little details that make using such a framework a joyful experience. Once completed, this framework will be open sourced and adopted companywide. This will be the second open-source iOS library from the WW mobile team.
Talk to us about the onboarding process that you went through when you were hired at WW. How did the team set you up for success?
When I started at WW, I spent the first day or two just looking at the existing code and getting it to compile. I was given a small number of “starter” tickets to work on, where the point was to have a goal-oriented way to get familiar with how things were structured. This also created some initial small wins that built momentum for the really challenging issues that would follow. I remember that everyone was super supportive and consistently encouraged my progress.
Ifeoma Okereke, Senior Android Engineer
Ifeoma's responsibilities include writing well-architected code for the Android codebase as part of delivering new features and maintaining existing ones, as well as mentoring the more junior members of the Android engineering team.
BEYOND WORK: Ifeoma likes to cook and thinks that the practice and preparation required in preparing a new dish parallel her work as an engineer.
You’ve been with WW for four years. How has your role at the company changed in that time?
When I joined WW, my focus was to learn and grow as a software engineer. It was also mainly working on feature development for the Android app. I worked on small parts of the codebase and my responsibilities increased as time went on.
My current role is not very different from my initial role, in the sense that I still work on feature development. The difference now is that the scope of my work is broader. I'm not just responsible for myself and the code that I write, but for ensuring that the codebase remains in a clean and maintainable state. I'm also responsible for mentoring more junior engineers on the team.
Talk about your daily work. How much of what you do is collaborative? How much involves working with other teams at the company?
A typical day for me involves mostly working with my product crew to implement features for upcoming releases. I also do a lot of code reviews to provide feedback to Android team members from other product crews. Because the Android codebase is modularized, I get to collaborate with other crews when I'm working on features that span across various parts of the app.
I'm passionate about ensuring that our members have a seamless experience while using the Android app.”
What’s one of the more exciting challenges you’ve tackled as an engineer at the company?
I'm passionate about ensuring that our members have a seamless experience while using the Android app. I recently undertook the task of rewriting the authentication flow on the Android app, which was both exciting and challenging. Since the entire experience on the app depends on whether or not the user is authenticated, rewriting the authentication flow was a task that affected all crews, so we needed a lot of collaboration to get the rewrite released to our members. We released the rewrite a few months ago and are now able to build on this new authentication flow to add more features easily.
Grady Jenkins, iOS Engineer
Grady is a junior iOS engineer at WW. As a junior member of the iOS team, Grady helps develop new features and refactor old ones and helps fix bugs across WW products.
BEYOND WORK: Grady is an exercise enthusiast and likes to workout as much as he can.
You’re relatively new to WW. What has it been like getting up to speed on your role and settling into your team?
I moved to New York City in February, and everyone at WW has been incredibly helpful and nice. Starting a new job and moving to a completely new area is quite a change for someone like me, but the team made me feel comfortable and welcomed here instantly. It helps that we have a lot of team happy hours, so getting to know everyone was fun.
In your role, how do you work with other teams across the company? Is it easy to get feedback from coworkers who aren’t on your immediate team?
The team I work on is actually the largest within the company, and I work with people from different departments daily to develop new features. Everyone is really helpful when it comes to getting work done and the company promotes a collaborative workplace. People can switch teams or contribute in other areas if they desire.
Knowing that something I worked on is going to be used by millions of users is an incredibly rewarding feeling.”
What tools does the mobile team currently use? How do these tools enable your team to work efficiently and successfully?
Currently, our main tools are Cocoapods, fastlane, Charles and Postman. The projects we work on heavily utilize Cocoapods for managing dependencies, which makes working on new features simple. We use fastlane to automate some of the more tedious parts of being an iOS engineer, including publishing to the App Store. Charles and Postman both make debugging responses we’re getting from our backend incredibly simple.
If you look at your to-do list, what is one thing you love to do every day?
Going from simple requirements to a complete feature is my favorite part of the job. Knowing that something I worked on is going to be used by millions of users is an incredibly rewarding feeling. Collaborating on a project with people from different departments is a great way to meet new people and get fresh perspectives on a problem.