Friday 28 July 2017

'I should have spent less time in the classroom and more time running societies and events'

Oliver Dewhurst General manager, Deliveroo Ireland

General manager Oliver Dewhurst Photo: Conor McCabe Photography
General manager Oliver Dewhurst Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

I've spent my whole career working for entrepreneurial, tech-based start-ups. When I graduated from the LSE in London with a maths and economics degree under my belt, I accepted a fantastic job offer in corporate tax in one of the big four firms. I was about to take the first step on a serious career path in the City.

However, between graduating and starting the job, I took an intern position at Groupon. I trusted my gut, which told me to take the risk and ride the wave of Groupon's incredible growth cycle. Back then, people were all talk of tech bubbles and I know I gave my mother a few sleepless nights. But I'm glad I did it and if I knew then what I know now I'd have made more of the incredible connections.

I had joined Groupon fresh out of college. And if I knew then what I know now I'd have spent less time in the classroom and more time out and about setting up societies and events. In university I was the president of the ski club and the sailing club, and ran both as big business interests. While in full-time study, I'd regularly organise events for over 200 people that were funded with budgets close to €200k. I learned a lot about the fundamentals then; I managed big teams, managed cash flows with P&L responsibility, dealt with big-scale logistics and operations.

Another thing I've learned is the importance of work-life balance. In London, I was paid a London weighting salary but I very much worked to live as everything about the city is expensive. I later moved to Berlin and it opened my eyes. It was not only a cheaper place to live, but it was a better way to live. Last August, when I moved to Dublin to head up Deliveroo, it got even better. I spend most of my time on my bike now. I finish work and head off for a run on the beach, or I'll ride out to Dun Laoghaire and go sailing with friends.

I've learned how important it is to be hands-on too as a business leader. Sometimes at lunch or at dinner time, I'll hop on my bike and do some Deliveroo deliveries. I always learn so much; from the restaurants who serve the meals to the feedback from our clients when I drop off the food at their door.

In a year, Deliveroo has grown to four cities and we're about to launch into our fifth, Limerick. We've ramped it up, and fast. If I knew then what I know now, we'd have taken more risks on our marketing and maybe launched some markets earlier.

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