Meet Ruth: Managing Director APAC at Student Beans
This week, to celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ve interviewed some of the inspiring female leaders within Student Beans. Here’s what Ruth, who leads our team in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, had to say about her SB journey so far and setting up our first ever Australian office.
We first interviewed you for our ‘Meet the Team’ series back in December 2017 - tell us about how your role has changed since then!
Back in December 2017, I was working in the London HQ office running the Account Management department. I was lucky enough to help to grow an incredible team of young women, many of whom are now in senior management positions in Student Beans.
At the beginning of 2018, I decided to relocate to Melbourne, my previous home prior to moving to London.
I was incredibly sad at the prospect of handing in my resignation to our CEO Michael Eder, but I had an inkling that this wouldn't be the end of my time at Student Beans.
I went into the meeting thinking I may be leaving Student Beans and instead walked out with the most exciting opportunity I could have wished for - to open up the Student Beans APAC office in Melbourne, Australia the following year!
Since that conversation, three members of the Student Beans London team have relocated to Melbourne to work on the APAC expansion; Josie, VP Sales APAC, Tom, Lead APAC Engineer and relocating in May 2019, Simone, Account Manager. We have also recently made a local hire, Momo, who is our new Account Manager focusing on the growing number of Chinese clients managed from the Melbourne office.
My role now focuses on growing the business in the APAC region.
How was setting up our APAC office?
Setting up the APAC office was incredibly exciting for myself and the rest of the team moving over from London HQ. We’re now very comfortable in our office at 152 Elizabeth Street and look forward to continuing to outgrow our office space as our team expands. We expect to double in size this year!
What’s your favourite thing about your role?
Growing the business, as opposed to managing existing relationships, was a new challenge for me when we opened the APAC office.
Since day one, my favourite part of having these initial conversations is seeing the reactions from brands as they learn about Student Beans and what we have to offer.
I find Australian brands are very open to experimenting with something new and are very encouraging of having Student Beans in the market, which was previously dominated by only one provider.
Brands are now enjoying the freedom that Student Beans offers as a partner, our culture and our market-leading products.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
Right now, I am most looking forward to attending eTail Asia in Singapore on 5th March to touch base with a number of brands who are looking to work with us to run student loyalty programs in Asia. I am really looking forward to expanding our clients in Asia this year and to launching new websites.
Over the rest of 2019, I look forward to growing the APAC team with specialists coming in to focus on new markets.
What’s been the highlight of your time at Student Beans?
Realising that the expansion into the local Australian market was going to be a success!
It's always daunting to expand into a new market, as we don't know if our product is going to be received well by brands or by the students. We knew pretty early on that the Australian local expansion was going to be successful when we signed on local brands such as THE ICONIC, ECHT, Colette Hayman and SHOWPO, who were really keen to run student programs and proved to be really popular with our users.
I’m really looking forward to repeating this success with new markets.
How has the company evolved since you joined?
When I joined Student Beans, we were 21 people in total. We’re now over 100 and have six offices globally. We have new departments and many of our existing departments have tripled in size. We are fast outgrowing offices all over the world - it was incredible to watch and be a part of.
Not only has the Student Beans team evolved, so has our product. We have new apps, localised websites, SSO verification and, my favourite feature, localised in-store offers and near-me features.
How would you describe our culture in 3 words?
Driven, supportive and trusting
Which of our values most resonates with you, and why?
BE ACCOUNTABLE - Everyone at Student Beans knows exactly what they are responsible for and has the tools they need to achieve what they set out to do. I really love that we are all empowered to take responsibility for and lead the charge when it comes to each individual’s goals.
It’s International Women’s Day on 8th March; tell us about your experience of being a female leader at Student Beans...
I have always felt that I was treated as an equal to any other leader at Student Beans, regardless of my gender, age or background. I joined Student Beans with previous managerial experience and was able to grow the Account Management department with support from the other leaders in the business.
Over the last 3 years with Student Beans, I have always been able to voice my opinion, engage in debate on any topic and to speak up when I had something to share.
The way we treat females or people from any background is incredibly important. No one should ever feel victimised or discriminated against in their place of work. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of a company with such strong values ingrained in its culture, leaders and staff members.
Student Beans has a very strong social conscience which is felt by our team members, clients and the students we engage with around the world each day.
Our vision statement is “empower students to thrive.” I can honestly say the word “students” in that statement is interchangeable and relevant to all genders, age groups, cultures or backgrounds within Student Beans.
I’m very proud to be a leader at Student Beans and hope that any female in the workforce experiences the same level of respect and support that I have in my time here.
Finally, tell us something about you that surprises people!
My favourite thing in the world to do outside of work… is to scuba dive shipwrecks!
I recently passed my advanced wreck diving certification in the Bay Islands, Honduras. The adrenaline rush I get from seeing a shipwreck appear in front of me when descending 30 metres into dark ocean is like nothing else I have ever experienced. I’m scared of heights, bees and fast cars, but under the water I feel relaxed and confident to explore things many people have never and will never see with their own eyes!
Feeling inspired to find out more about career opportunities at Student Beans? Click here to check out our current openings and get in touch today.