🏡 City: Mayfield ➡️ Cambridge ➡️ Rio ➡️ London
💼 Job title: Head of Business Operations
🎓 Studies: Theoretical Physics
🔮 Languages: English 🇬🇧, Portuguese 🇵🇹, some Spanish 🇪🇸, a bit of Italian 🇮🇹
👣 How do you commute to work: Tube or bike
🧳 Travel dreams: The moon. Or mars.
🎬 Favorite film: How can you pick one?
📌 What do you like most about your job? What’s your drive at work?
Before Stuart I was a consultant; I liked the types of problems I got to solve but was frustrated because I didn’t get to own those solutions through implementation. I was also missing a sense of community, so I got a bit of a culture shock when I joined Stuart. It took me a while to get used to but I think it’s probably what I like most about working here - there’s the challenge of not only coming up with an idea but also actually having to deliver it and I get to work with awesome people. It’s all tied to how fast we’re growing and all those opportunities that come with being in a young company.
The thing that makes me come in everyday is that I’m probably going to have a new challenge and I look forward to talking and meeting with my colleagues.
📌 How did your position evolve since joining Stuart?
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, it’s been a very rapid growth for me personally and also for the team and Stuart, so I’ve been very lucky there. I joined in the end of 2018 as a Senior Business Analyst reporting to Jonathan Jenssen, back then there were around 25 people working in London, we were much smaller and scrappier in the UK at the time.
The first projects I had were the centralisation of supply and demand and supporting the first Just Eat contract, which turned out to be pretty demanding and while running them I realised that we needed a team to work on these things.
Also I could see that there were payments, invoicing and shift management in the UK that weren’t really owned or had an owner but they didn’t really understand the technical or analytical needs behind those areas. Analytical support was embedded in various teams but not really connected in the work that was going on. I was looking at all of these topics and took them to Jonathan Jenssen and we came up with the idea of building a team with the idea of centralising and formalising a lot of this support. Since then, we’ve been growing and refining that.
I’ve been involved in a bunch of stuff at Stuart: Just Eat negotiations, supply and demand changes, changing how we pay for couriers, making proposals to the product team, H2H modelling… Now I’m very glad that Business Operations is a thing!
📌 What words of wisdom would you share with aspiring Business Operations talents?
One thing I’ve noticed with new joiners from engineering/analytical backgrounds is « you have to know everything otherwise it’s not ok ». But you don’t have to know everything, you just have to know what you know - it’s something that I also still struggle with.
From a more general point of view, if you look at Business Operations, it’s a team where you can learn an incredible amount about both the technical/analytical side of things as well as the operational business. So the advice I would give my younger self is figure out what you want, have a rough idea of what you want to do in the long-term, and see what problems/projects line up with that.
Also more generally - if you see a problem and think you have an idea on how to solve it, then go and solve it. The first step to that is to prove that your idea is the right/best idea because it probably is. And that’s what I think a lot of people struggle with at the start of their careers, they have ideas but then don’t know how to take it any further and think they’re not necessarily right. But the person who is best placed to deliver on an idea is usually the one who came up with it. I think it’s very dangerous to assume that just because something is there, that it’s the right thing that should be there. The team and I have changed a lot of things at Stuart and I think those were the right choices. If you see a problem, own it - that’s the attitude that I take and I try to pass it on to the team.
Example: when I joined, every city manager did their own supply and demand, it helped them understand a core part of the business but just because it was how things were done that didn’t mean it was the right way, so we rearranged how that worked. We were scaling, so it was less and less appropriate that someone without more understanding of analytics and modelling took on the bulk of that activity.
📌 What’s the most rewarding part of being Head of Business Operations?
I have great pride watching the team grow. I don’t mean the number of people in it but watching the individuals in the team, because I think we've got a lot of opportunity to learn and develop. Stuart has the growth that provides great opportunities and when you combine that with ambitious, talented people it's just a happy combination of the right ingredients that I find very rewarding. I'm the person who's pairing people with problems and that is really satisfying. I’m really happy to be able to give people guidance and to make sure they know they’re valued.
📌 Have you ever lived abroad? What were your motivations? Tell us more about this time.
The only time I've lived abroad is when I spent a year in Rio after university. I'd never taken a gap year and wanted to experience something of the world that wasn't just academia. I didn't want to work a standard job and I've always been interested in effective altruism and the philosophy about the way in which you can do the most good in the world. So I wanted to do something good and thought this is a great opportunity. I also had the side goal of learning Portuguese, which is why I chose Brazil (I have family that live in Portugal and I visit there quite a lot).
I worked for a charity called Task Brazil. In Rio, children only get to go to school for half of the day because the system is under a lot of strain. So this charitable school stayed open all day, six days a week. Kids could attend for the other half of their school day or just as a place to go if their parents were at work. These kids lived in what are called “communidades” - poor, “unofficial” parts of the city - and I was living and working in one of these areas too. I had a class of 10-20 people, depending on the day, and the age range was five to sixteen. I mainly taught English then realized I could and should add music, computer science, maths and basic geography, sometimes basic Portuguese as well which was bizarre.
I definitely want to get involved with some kind of charitable endeavor or not-for-profit in the future. I want to take the learnings from this experience and make sure that I apply them to make sure it's as efficient as possible.
📌 If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do?
I would probably play video games and bake cakes all day! I like to try out new recipes each time, I even baked my sister’s wedding cake. I think I like it so much because my mum refused to bake cakes when I was little.
If there's any person who loves nerdy games who wants a recommendation then try Factorio! They’ve got a fantastic dev blog too.
I also like to try out new sports all the time, I did Jiu Jitsu in Brazil, I did climbing when I came back, I played squash at University… I like to have a go at things even if I'm not the best at it.
📌Would you rather bungee jump or skydive? What was your most thrilling experience?
I would rather Skydive first, but I guess I’d like to try out both. I guess the thrill of falling completely free must be amazing. I also loved scuba diving a few years ago and I also hiked around a decent number of mountains - Alps, Pyrenees, Picos, some random place in Norway, the Three Peaks in the UK.