Whataburger Promotes Three Executives
New Chief Administrative Officer, two new VPs will help lead ambitious growth
As Whataburger continues its bold flavor expansion across the country, the brand is excited to announce the promotion of three executives who have a combined 41 years of experience with the company.
Alexander Ivannikov was promoted to Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). He is a member of the Strategic Leadership Team, a group of nine C-suite leaders driving the 72-year-old company into the future.
Alexander, who was promoted in September of 2022 to Chief Strategy and Supply Chain Officer, expanded his role even further this month to include Marketing, Real Estate, Business Development, and Franchising -- in addition to his current responsibilities for Strategy, Innovation, Supply Chain, Corporate Services, and Food Safety & Quality Assurance.
“During his seven-year tenure at Whataburger, Alexander has displayed exceptional leadership and strategic thinking skills,” says Whataburger President and CEO Ed Nelson. “This is a well-deserved promotion. His expertise and experience will be valuable assets as we pursue excellence in our growth strategy.”
Alexander joined the Whataburger family in 2016, bringing his passion for food, agriculture, and the global farm-to-fork supply chain to his role as Vice President for Supply Chain Solutions. In that position, he was responsible for delivering the highest quality products and services to more than 900 restaurants, as well as making critical decisions and overseeing procurement and delivery of everything from food products and packaging to restaurant equipment and essential services.
On a path to open its 1,000th restaurant in the next year, Whataburger is investing heavily in innovation and research and development, while also keeping true to the brand’s purpose of Bold Flavors, Extraordinary Hospitality and Meaningful Communities.
“I’m so proud of this brand and the way we’ve innovated without sacrificing the quality of our fresh food or the hospitality that our customers expect,” Alexander says. “I’m focused on setting enterprise-level strategy, breaking down silos and building a single high-performance team intensely and passionately focused on the Whataburger customer.”
Alexander has 25 years of food, agribusiness and restaurant experience, including leadership roles with Tyson Foods, AGCO Corp., and JBS Foods. He is a graduate of Harding University and an alumnus of the Harvard Business School.
Two New Vice Presidents
In addition to a new CAO, Whataburger also promoted Austin Crocker to Vice President Strategy, Innovation, Supply Chain and Services. Austin will play a pivotal role helping new CAO Alexander Ivannikov manage the company’s growth trajectory – and will also serve on Whataburger’s Strategy Council.
“Austin has the ability to look at the business from a unique and truly creative perspective,” Alexander says. “He asks hard questions and has been instrumental in implementing new ideas and processes that bring value to the brand without compromising quality.”
A 10-year veteran of Whataburger, Austin started with Whataburger on the planning and analysis team, where he helped design and build models based on company-specific KPIs, including financial and non-financial metrics.
Austin left the company for a brief period, gaining valuable M&A experience. He returned to Whataburger in the accounting department and steadily moved up through the Whataburger ranks, eventually supporting the brand’s founding family with their family office and the 2019 sale of Whataburger to BDT Capital Partners.
Shortly after, Austin became Director of Franchising– helping Whataburger expand its franchise program for the first time in decades. In September 2022, Austin was promoted to Group Director of Innovation. His latest role, which includes Corporate Strategy, Innovation plus Supply Chain and Corporate Services, is one that fuels his passion for shaping the future.
“I’m so excited about being able to work on the strategy and innovation for a brand with such a cult following,” Austin says. “Our opportunity is to innovate in a way that gives our guests the highest quality “Just-Like-You-Like-It” products and experiences.”
Austin holds a BBA in Finance from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He and his wife Rebekah have two children.
On the People side of the business, Jeff Weinstein, a 24-year veteran of Whataburger, has been promoted to Vice President, Human Resources, and will be part of the company’s Strategy Council.
Jeff oversees all general HR functions, including Total Rewards, a team of HR Business Partners, Recruiting and Talent Strategy and Development for Whataburger’s employees, called Family Members.
For the past five years, Jeff has been the Group Director of HR, championing Whataburger’s 51,000 Family Members through the company’s sale in 2019, the challenges that 2020 and COVID presented, and the overall accelerated growth of the brand into to new markets.
As the company ushers in a new chapter of innovation – both at the restaurant level and in the Home Office – Jeff’s team is working to continuously improve the Family Member experience across the country so that Whataburger remains an employer of choice.
“Jeff has been a trusted partner to me since I joined the Whataburger Family,” says Peggy Rubenzer, Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer. “He is a role model for giving and receiving feedback and consistently exhibits his HR professionalism on a daily basis. He has hired, led and developed an incredible team of HR professionals and has become a trusted advisor for Family Members at every level throughout the organization.”
Jeff started with Whataburger in 1998 as a Field Recruiting and HR coordinator supporting Dallas/Ft. Worth, Austin and Waco. Over the next 24 years, Jeff added increased and broader responsibility in the HR space – at times leading Payroll, HR Information Services, the HR Service Center, HR Process Improvements and Reporting and Analytics.
Prior to joining Whataburger, Jeff spent four years at the Souper Salad restaurant chain as a manager, general manager, opening team coordinator and district manager.
Jeff graduated from the University of Arizona (Go Wildcats) with a major in sociology and a minor in theater arts production. Jeff lives in San Antonio with his wife of 22 years, Ava.
“I am humbled, honored, and thrilled about my new role,” Jeff says. “I am excited about how we have organized ourselves as a brand to provide better support to our Family Members and deliver on our commitment to be the employer of choice. Of course, I couldn’t do any of this without an amazing team, who cares deeply about our Family Members.”
Whataburger is the hometown hamburger place that hasn’t compromised. We serve bold flavors and original recipes made to order, just like you like it, and pride ourselves on extraordinary hospitality and meaningful connections in our communities. That’s what’s led fans to Whataburger since Harmon Dobson served our first customer in 1950. Headquartered in San Antonio, we’ve stayed close to our roots while building sales of more than $3 billion annually across our 14-state footprint and more than 900 locations. Even with our exceptional menu, we know that people make the difference at Whataburger. That’s why we’re a national 2023 Top Workplaces award winner. Want to become part of our orange spirit? Apply to become a Family Member (what we call our employees) at whataburger.com/careers. Just hungry for a great meal? Download our app on ios or android to order ahead. Shop Whataburger branded merchandise and selected sauces including our famous Fancy and Spicy Ketchup at WhataStore.com and find Whataburger original-recipe products in grocery stores. See our press kit for a list of locations, fun facts, milestones and other company information.