‘The pandemic changed how companies connect with their customers’

3 Feb 2022

David Ryan. Image: Sendoso

David Ryan, the European HQ lead for Sendoso, discusses the gifting business and the career advice he got from his father.

David Ryan has experience at companies such as LeasePlan and gaming players Electronic Arts and Goa. He previously worked for Jet.com, which was acquired by Walmart, and spent more than five years as the operations, engineering and site lead at Walmart Global Tech’s base in Dublin.

Last year, he was named head of Europe for Sendoso, the San Francisco-based company developing a corporate gifting and logistics platform. From the company’s new base in Dublin, Ryan is helping to build its European operations and scale its sales and engineering teams.

‘Like all children of entrepreneurs, you get roped into the business at an early age’

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

Future Human

Cutting through the digital noise is a challenge as email opening rates are low. Sendoso’s mission is to assist customers in establishing relationships, connections and making people feel appreciated through a thoughtful gift or gesture.

Sendoso provides personalised physical gifts that help create new connections and develop and deepen existing relationships with current and prospective employees and clients.

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

The pandemic has completely changed how companies connect with their customers. As we continue to move through 2022, sales and marketing teams are investing in further personalising customer journeys. This is something that Sendoso facilitates to support companies to engage more deeply with prospective clients and employees.

E-gifts will be huge this year. We are expecting marketing and sales teams to send their employees or prospects e-gifts that are suited for their individual tastes.

People are digitally fatigued and want to get out and see the world again. Employers are gifting their clients or employees with gift cards for events that drive human connections, such as for movies, concerts or even wine tastings. Anything that gets people out of their homes will be winners and this is something that Sendoso provides.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

My father had a company called Bryan S Ryan which sold office equipment and, like all children of entrepreneurs, you get roped into the business at an early age. Here I collected cheques and did deliveries. This led me to selling burst reams of paper that were dropped on the warehouse floor to schools as art paper. It ignited in me an interest in creating and growing businesses and the challenges that come with that.

This fascination has landed me in some interesting roles such as managing director of Goa Games and a site lead for EA Games in Galway, where we launched Star Wars for George Lucas. I built a team that delivered the platform to launch and monetise Jet.com, which was acquired by Walmart.

All these remarkable experiences have led me to my current role at Sendoso.

What’s the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

The best piece of career advice I received was from my father. He told me to become an accountant – this way no corporate finance companies or clever CFOs could come in and tell me how to run my business. It would give me great control and understanding of the financial aspects of my business as I scale it.

This is exactly what I did. I became a qualified accountant with KPMG.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

I remember getting the opportunity to buy our first house, while resigning from my job, sitting my final accountancy exams, getting married and starting a new role all within three months.

But everything went perfectly. I got my final exams notification the day I returned from my honeymoon. I think wedding nerves was a great distraction from the exams.

What one work skill do you wish you had?

I can safely say I regret not having language skills. The ability to converse in Spanish or Mandarin would add a huge dimension to work and travel enjoyment.

How do you get the best out of your team?

We have a great team culture at Sendoso. I believe the way to ensure we thrive as a team, and as a business, is to ensure that everyone knows that their opinions matter and are heard. Once a safe place is created for people to express ideas, no matter how bizarre they can be, it creates a respectful environment that encourages personal and professional growth.

At Sendoso, the most junior staff members can sit down with the C-suite and discuss ideas that they have. They will be listened to and taken on board. When respect like that exists, everyone wants to work together and conquer the goals we have.

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

I believe that there is always a diversity problem in tech – it really is a male-dominated sector. I think more opportunities need to be presented for women who are interested in careers in STEM, and schools in Ireland need to be more open about girls pursuing tech roles in their futures. Research from UCD showed that 40pc of males list STEM subjects on their CAO opposed to only 19pc of females.

A report from McKinsey found that gender-diverse companies are 15pc more likely to outperform their counterparts. At Sendoso, we welcome anyone who is smart, curious, kind, ambitious and ready to take on the challenges in the sector and motivated to have a global impact to apply for roles.

When it comes to diversity, Sendoso has employees from many different backgrounds and ethnicities, and 47pc of our employee base are women. We collectively support ongoing initiatives that work towards achieving equality and enhancing diversity.

We also offer opportunities for our team members to continue their professional development, and are open to enabling and supporting our staff to move around the company and explore new roles if this is of interest to them. Therefore a person originally hired for a sales role may develop an interest in software development and have the opportunity to learn from the software development teams to fully branch into this area.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

One book I always go back to is Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love. Marty Cagan has timeless advice on how to develop software products and manage the risks involved. It is clear that product management as a career choice is an amazing breeding ground for folks who aspire to be future CEOs in the software sphere.

I also really enjoyed Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence. It is a very readable and accessible book, using plain English (and no maths!) to give insight into something that can be seen as daunting. It is a refreshing, well laid out counterpoint to the many negative views that artificial intelligence is something to be feared rather than embraced.

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

I use the Google suite both in my work and personal life. It is a brilliant resource that has really revolutionised team collaboration. It has also been very beneficial when working remotely and allows all teams to stay in contact with each other when working on common projects.

In terms of tools, my phone is very important. I use it to keep up with emails and news within the industry.

Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.