Leaders’ Insights: Amanda Roche-Kelly, Just Eat Ireland

28 Mar 2017

Amanda Roche-Kelly, managing director of Just Eat Ireland. Image: Just Eat

Amanda Roche-Kelly is the managing director of Just Eat Ireland.

A business and marketing graduate of Portobello Institute, Amanda Roche-Kelly also studied at Dundalk Institute of Technology and has almost two decades of experience in the sales sector.

She previously worked at Irish Distillers and Bewley’s before joining the Just Eat team in 2012.

Here, she discusses the importance of technology, encouraging young girls to pursue STEM careers and her admiration for the business credentials of Beyoncé.

Describe your role and what you do.

As managing director for Just Eat in Ireland, my long-term ambition is to revolutionise the way people order and enjoy food. Just Eat is the world’s leading marketplace for online food delivery, operating in 13 markets around the globe. It allows customers to search for local takeaway restaurants and place orders via its mobile app.

As a company, we have been busy signing up new restaurant partners. The most recent signings include Milano, Eddie Rocket’s, Real Gourmet Burger and Supermac’s. In order to fulfil the ambition to revolutionise the way people order and enjoy food, we have a continued focus for 2017 to add more restaurant partners and continue to expand the cuisine types available in growing numbers of locations across the country – helping customers to find their flavour at any time of the day, wherever they are.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

Technology is at the core of everything we do at Just Eat. Leveraging our technology, I can effectively engage with restaurant partners, customers and colleagues throughout the day in an efficient manner. We communicate with all partners in a similar way through our app and also with direct engagement on our social channels. It has proven to be a winning formula for our now 1,900 restaurant partners and customers across the country.

What are the biggest challenges facing your business and how are you tackling them?

In our industry, the biggest challenge is – and always should be – focused on ensuring we’ve enough customers and orders coming through for our restaurant partners and, equally, enough restaurant partners to provide our customers with the choice and range they require.

Each month, we continue to target new ways to engage consumers through marketing and sponsorship opportunities and, similarly, engage new restaurants around the country to ensure that we keep our partners and customers happy in equal measure.

What are the key industry opportunities you’re capitalising on?

Technology-driven innovation is central to all that we do at Just Eat. Leveraging our technology for the benefit of our customers and restaurant partners will continue to be a priority.

The way people live their lives is different now, and Just Eat has become more than just a Friday night option – people can order breakfast, lunch and dinner to suit their needs and tastebuds. In the UK and other markets, we’re working to introduce a range of new technologies, which will support our customers’ and partners’ efforts to grow and meet customers’ needs. It’s an exciting time to be working in the industry and, with technology developing so quickly, we’re able to plan for a lot more and provide a lot more service.

‘We need to ensure that we are painting a picture about the tech sector that represents the breadth and range of opportunities open to people’

What set you on the road to where you are in the technology industry?

I originally joined Just Eat as sales director. That experience has been beneficial to me in my current position as it means I am familiar with the issues and opportunities the team are faced with every day. It allows us to work together to take advantage of opportunities while addressing the challenges, and creates a really good working environment.

Prior to working with Just Eat, I worked with Irish Distillers and Bewley’s. In these positions, I got to know the restaurant sector really well, understanding what it needs as well as getting the opportunity to develop personal relationships, which I have been able to leverage in my current position.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

I think, along my career journey, a skill I’ve acquired is the need to allow time for evaluation after a working week. I always try to carve out time for myself and my team to evaluate the week; the meetings we’ve had and the events we’ve shown up at, sponsored or spoken at.

To ensure that each week we’re as effective as we can be for our customers and restaurant partners, it’s important that we’re impactful – engaging in the right way and showing up at the right events. Evaluation has become a key part of my week; it’s a process I instil in my team and I make sure it’s part of all of our weekly processes at Just Eat.

How do you get the best out of your team?

Communication is central to the success of any organisation. Everyone needs to understand the goals that we are working toward and feel that they have a role to play in helping to achieve those goals. My experience from working in larger more established companies in the past has shown that managers can underestimate the need for the whole team to know, understand and buy into the vision. If you don’t know why you are showing up each day, productivity and creativity will be seriously restricted.

I also believe empowerment and autonomy – once you have selected the right people – are critical to success.

‘We need to convey the excitement of being a disrupter and an innovator’

STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity. What are your thoughts on this and what’s needed to effect change?

This is certainly an issue in the technology sector, but the same can also be said when you look at the senior management teams across almost all sectors in Ireland – and beyond.

On the technology side, we need to look at the messages that are being communicated to young girls at a time when they are making the decisions that will inform their future careers. We need to ensure that we are painting a picture about the tech sector that represents the breadth and range of opportunities open to people. Technology is in everything we do now, in our personal and professional lives, so selling a career in this sector should be easier than ever.

The option we are giving young girls is to have the chance to change the future. We need to ensure they understand that they don’t have to be coders or software engineers to work in tech; there are a range of professional roles within the sector also – finance, law, sales or marketing as well as core ICT jobs. We need to convey the excitement of being a disrupter and an innovator. I think we need to look at the language we use and the messages we send – we don’t need to send them down an alleyway. We need to show them that selecting STEM subjects truly opens up a world of opportunity in the future.

Who is your business hero and why?

This is one you might not expect, but Beyoncé!

Since founding her own entertainment and management company, Parkwood Entertainment, in 2007, she has added a music label to its operations and signed its first three artists, all of whom are women. She has also launched the ­athleisure clothing brand, Ivy Park, and invested in WTRMLN WTR, a ­female-founded watermelon ­water start-up. Empowering women seems to be an ongoing theme for her, which is very much in line with my vision of supporting diversity and female entrepreneurship.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

I am currently reading All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s a gripping piece of fiction that I pick up whenever I get the chance.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

Technology! From organising my diary to engaging with customers, partners and colleagues, technology is central to my day. On a personal note, I also leverage the Just Eat app to order healthy meal planners for the week, which allows me to have breakfast, lunch and dinner taken care of for myself and my family for those busy weeks. This new option via Just Eat has been a real game-changer for me.

Roche-Kelly will host a Just Eat lunchtime panel discussion called ‘Explore Food Tech Innovation’ on Wednesday 29 March at the Digital Hub, Dublin 8, from 1-3pm. The panel will be chaired by Siliconrepublic.com editor John Kennedy.

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