Amanda Roche Kelly is Managing Director of Just Eat in Ireland. She joined Just Eat in 2012 as Head of Sales and quickly progressed to her current role managing the Irish business across sales, marketing, operations and customer care. Just Eat is one of the fastest growing, most exciting and dynamic technology companies in Ireland. As MD for Just Eat Ireland, Amanda has established the company in Ireland and driven its growth and expansion since her appointment four years ago. Just Eat is the world’s leading marketplace for online food delivery operating in 13 markets around the globe. In Ireland, Just Eat connects over 2100 restaurants and over 30 different cuisine types with customers throughout the country. The Just Eat app has been downloaded over 1,000,000 times since it launched in October 2013, it is the number 1 app under ‘Food & Drink’ in the App Store in Ireland and has been consistent since launch. As Managing Director Amanda has been directly responsible for driving the company’s growth and developing the use of technology to reach Just Eat customers in new ways.
Amanda joined Just Eat from Bewley’s, where, as Regional Manager for Dublin and Leinster she was responsible for a team delivering annual sales of over €10m and her area was the most profitable in the business. Before Bewley’s, she worked for 8 years with Pernod Ricard, the world’s co-leader in wines and spirits. Amanda started her years in Pernod Ricard as part of the Dublin sales team and later made the move to senior brand manager for wines managing a portfolio of international brands such as Gallo and Jacob’s Creek. Amanda holds a BA in Business and a Diploma in Marketing & French from DkIT. Amanda has received several nominations for business awards including the WMB Businesswoman Award and the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year awards.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
I believe you can learn about the theory of leadership and there are certainly strategies and tools that can support leaders in their role, however, I think that the traits that make someone an effective leader tend to be inherent within a person. These include self-confidence, a belief in your own abilities, being motivated and passionate about what you do as well as having the ability to motivate others. These are all essential qualities of a good leader and while I believe you can learn along the way I think that effective leaders are born rather than created.
When you are filling a leadership role in your organisation what qualities do you look for from candidates?
I always look for someone who is focused on the big picture – someone who measures their personal success on the success of the company rather than their own career journey. I want them to be ambitious, strategic and also willing to take a risk. Just Eat is a market disruptor – we are creating a whole new industry sector – I want someone who is excited by that. I can’t guarantee them exactly where a role with Just Eat will take them but I can give them the opportunity to take control of their own destiny by helping to shape the future of the business and our industry.
If you had to leave your organisation for 1 year what would you ask of your team and what advice would you give them?
I have a very strong leadership team – a diverse team who bring operational pragmatism and creative thinking to the table. They are passionate about delivering for our customers as well as ensuring that we continue to drive business for our restaurant partners. My ask for them in that situation, and always, is to trust their own instincts, make clear decisions that will continue to drive the company forward and at all times, make the right choices ensuring that we protect the strength of our great brand.
What are you doing today to make sure your organisation will be relevant in 10 years time?
Just Eat is changing at a rapid pace. We continue to add new cuisine choices, new restaurant partners, new times of day to choose from Just Eat. We are already very different now than we were just five or even two years ago so a 10 year vista is a really long time for an innovator like Just Eat. We are essentially a technology company. One that is driven by the changing needs and wants of our customers. We continue to drive innovation on our technology platform, harnessing the benefits of AI, VR, AR – integrating our app across more devices and being available to our customers when and where they need us. This investment in technology will continue. We also thrive on customer insights. We have a significant amount of business intelligence at our fingertips. This allows us to make decisions about how we will evolve our service for the future. It is also information that is invaluable to our restaurant partners as it equips them to make decisions about their menu offerings, the cuisine types, opening hours etc. We will continue to leverage our business insights and intelligence to inform our future strategy. This, together with ongoing investment in R&D for our technology platform, will ensure that we remain as relevant in 10 years’ time as we are today.
What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?
Outside of Ireland and the business community I really admire Beyonce – she has leveraged her brand very successfully so that she now has her own entertainment and management company Parkwood Entertainment, 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 startup. 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 are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
I like reading and listening to other leaders tell their stories – they don’t have to be famous or international – sometimes it’s nice to connect with someone at your own level and learn from their experiences. Recently though I did read the book penned by Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella entitled “Hit Refresh”. It was a really interesting one for me. It challenges you to think about the cultural and digital transformation of your business and with the undertaking of the transformation of such a big brand like Microsoft the topic of discussion, I found that interesting when relating to Just Eat. I also like reading Richard Branson’s musings – his entrepreneurial spirit has built a number of great companies all sitting under one major brand. I like his irreverent approach which continues to prove successful.