Saturday 21 January 2017

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

Oliver Dewhurst General manager, Deliveroo Ireland

Published 22/05/2016 | 02:30

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.

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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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