Choosing an employer

Fact vs fiction: the Ocado Group edition

21 Jun 2023, 15:42

Think you know Ocado Group? If you’re picturing a grocery website and delivery vans right now, think again. Instead, picture the biggest technology disruptor in the retail industry.

The robots at one of Ocado Group's customer fulfilment centres

Ocado Group has come a long way since it was founded in 2000 – from local grocery delivery company to global technology pioneer. But, with all of this amazing technology happening behind the scenes, it’s easy to still think of Ocado Group as just the delivery vans driving past us or the grocery website we might use to do our food shopping.

With graduate schemes in business management, software engineering, engineering, analytics, finance, people and UX, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. You can find out more about these schemes and apply here , but – first – carry on reading to set the record fully straight on who Ocado Group is and what the company does.

Fiction: Ocado Group sells and delivers groceries

Don’t worry – you wouldn’t be the first to get the wrong end of the stick. Maisie Clegg, a current business management graduate, didn’t know the difference between Ocado Group and Ocado Retail when she applied to the graduate scheme.

'Before joining Ocado Group, I actually worked at one of its customer fulfilment centres (CFCs) as a freezer personal shopper, so I spent all day in a freezer picking frozen groceries,’ she says. ‘I thought that was what Ocado Group did: that we sold groceries and made sure that they got to customers. In my interview for the graduate scheme, I even went as far as talking about how Ocado Group could make its chicken products better and how we should be using British farmers.’

That didn’t stop her getting the job though! And now she knows that, while they are linked, Ocado Group and Ocado Retail are separate entities – with Ocado Group being a global technology and solutions provider. Ocado Retail is a joint venture between Ocado Group and Marks & Spencer Group – and is responsible for

‘Now that I’ve joined Ocado Group, I’ve learned that we do such a broad range of things,’ adds Maisie. ‘Throughout my three rotations so far, I’ve had opportunities to work with big suppliers and also with our international partners, which are things that I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do. I’ve worked on selling and buying contracts for massive tech firms and I’ve also worked with clients such as Aon to make sure that their warehouses run as efficiently as possible.’

Fact: Ocado Group works in automation, robotics, AI, machine learning, data science and more

A lot of graduates at Ocado Group find themselves surprised by just how advanced the company’s technology is. ‘Prior to joining Ocado Group, I was in a similar position to most people, I think,’ says Junaid XX, an engineering graduate. ‘I thought “Where’s the engineering going to be? What type of engineering?” and it was only after further research that I discovered Ocado Group works in robotics and automation. The engineering within the company is very exciting.’

‘We are very much a tech company,’ he adds. ‘Yes, our CFCs deal with Ocado groceries but they are a customer to Ocado Technology. We’re pushing the boundaries on what technology can do and asking questions like: How can we get robotics as close to humans as possible? What further automation can be made for more efficient CFCs? Can automation get groceries delivered on the same day they are ordered?’

Fact: Ocado Group is a global, FTSE 100 business

You could be forgiven for thinking Ocado Group is smaller than it is. After all, the company was only founded in 2000. However, it has quickly become both a heavyweight and trailblazer in the retail industry. Today, it is a FTSE 100 business with partners in Canada, France, the US, Australia, Spain and Japan – with much more on the horizon.

‘My initial thoughts of Ocado Group were that it was a UK-based retailer, it had sites across the UK and I would be based at some of them, and that was exclusively where it operated,’ explains Lawrence Waldram, an engineering graduate.

‘Now, my understanding of Ocado Group, having worked for them for longer, is that we have global clients all over the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience some of those clients over in America with Kroger and in France with Casino Group,’ he says. ‘Before joining Ocado Group, I never thought that I’d be sent over to one of our client sites in America on my own to solve a problem, as the subject matter expert.’

Lawrence’s favourite thing about visiting Ocado Group’s global clients? ‘Understanding how they use our services and what they want from their smart warehouses – and just getting to meet all sorts of people and working through their individual problems,’ he says.

Fiction: Ocado Group is a stuffy, corporate company

While Ocado Group may have taken the retail industry by storm and multiplied in size, but it has taken care not to sacrifice its start-up mentality and culture along the way. So, if you’re expecting an overly formal working environment, you will be surprised by the reality.

‘Before I joined Ocado Group, I definitely thought that it was a corporate company. I assumed that everyone would wear a suit every day, and that it would be a super formal, 9-5 office environment that was very rigid and structured,’ says Grace Ford, a business management graduate.

‘Now that I’ve been at Ocado Group for a while, I know that the culture is not at all what I expected,’ she reveals. ‘Everyone is super welcoming and approachable and people comes in dressed smart-casual. Not only that, but it’s hybrid working, the managers are so flexible and the culture is really, really relaxed, which is great.’

If Grace had to pick her favourite thing about the Ocado Group culture, it would be how open everyone is and that every employee can share their thoughts and opinions. For example, there is a live stream every month where the CEO takes questions from everyone across the business. ‘I feel like everyone has the opportunity to have their voice heard, to make changes in the business and to really make a difference from day one,’ concludes Grace.

Ready to find out more about apply to one of Ocado Group’s graduate schemes?

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