Amanda Roche-Kelly, MD Just Eat Ireland

26th April 2021

This week Amanda Roche-Kelly, MD of Just Eat Ireland and WMB Diversity Ambassador talks about the need to inspire others to reach their full potential. She reminds us that ‘Courage is contagious’.

Please describe your role at Just Eat Ireland.

As Managing Director of a company providing an essential takeaway food delivery service to customers during a pandemic, the safety of my team, our restaurant partners, our customers and of course the couriers we work with, continues to be my top priority.

The traditional restaurant sector has been decimated by the enforced period of closures, with the continued focus of my role to ensure the efficient continuity of all aspects of the Just Eat business here in Ireland, which is currently providing a support service to over 3,000 restaurant partners right across the country.

Can you put into context, the size and scope of Just Eat for our readers?

When Just Eat launched here first in Ireland in 2008 we had 219 fantastic restaurant partners. Now part of one of the world’s biggest food delivery companies, Just Eat, our customers have access to over 3,000 of their favourite local eateries, with a choice of over 40 cuisine types for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

More than 80% of our customers order either via the app or on their mobile device, with the Just Eat app downloaded over 2.7 million times since it was launched here in Ireland.

As a WMB Magazine Diversity Ambassador, how important is it to have role models?

Now more than ever we all need positive role models who are inquisitive and who are thinking about what’s next.

There are currently over 189K people on the live register here in Ireland, facing into a future of uncertainty with the world as we know completely reframed as a result of COVID 19. With young people entering the labour market predicted to bear the brunt of this impact, it’s never been more important for them to identify a role model that will have a positive and empowering influence on their outlook.

As Marian Wright Edelman was famously quoted as saying, “it’s hard to be what you can’t see,” so it is vital that we as leaders in our industry make conscious efforts to support and inspire those around us to identify and realise their potential.

I myself have had some fantastic role models along the way; people who have mentored, trusted and empowered me to try – even if it led to a mistake.

It’s important to be always learning as you set yourself new goals and targets, so ensure that your role model is someone relevant to that goal.

Why is diversity and inclusion important in your business?

As a company it’s important to ensure our employee base reflects the diversity that we encounter day to day with our customers and clients, with female diversity being a key focus for us in the technology sector.

Women in 2021 are world leaders, CEO’s, entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, innovators and so much more. It is vital that we lead with compassion during these difficult times and that we inspire the next generation to rise again.

In order to thrive in a rapidly evolving workplace, the ability to be flexible is important. What other attributes are necessary for companies and their employees to survive and succeed?

To be innovative, beyond just a value.

This for me is a solution-based action that is fundamental to the success of any business and indeed employee in the new world and something I am passionate about in my role as Managing Director of Ireland’s leading food ordering and delivery app.

Just Eat is a technology business and a perfect example of how innovation in technology is improving our lives. Digital transformation is now driving the delivery of goods and services and consumers are engaging with brands online in every-day life.

A first for the Just Eat group, our Camile Thai customers in Oranmore Co. Galway can now choose drone takeaway delivery straight to their door. This for me is a real success story for technology in the takeaway food industry in Ireland, which is one that has continued to show its resilience and innovation in the face of all the challenges it has experienced over the past year.

Given the shortage of women in STEM, what more can be done to increase the pipeline of female talent?

While there are systematic changes that need to happen in this area, for me it is important for young girls to see other women working in STEM – running businesses, driving success and achieving results in order to encourage them to develop a sense of vision for their own future.

Most young women in Ireland have heard of or ordered from Just Eat and it is great to have a host of successful women on the team, driving the growth of the company as part of a globally recognised group. Other advocates like Dr Norah Patten, an Irish aeronautical engineer and Fionnghuala O’Reilly, Miss Universe Ireland and NASA Datanaut, are really making STEM careers accessible to the next generation.

Has the last year been one big challenge or are there some ‘silver linings?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all, both professionally and personally. These are the most challenging times the restaurants we work with will have ever been through, but I continue to be inspired by their resilience and creativity. The enforced period of closure, coupled with the guidelines on social distancing has made it impossible for some to weather the storm, but it has been amazing to witness the determination of those on the frontline who have continued to trade through innovation and the support of takeaway and delivery services.

Many of these restaurants are long established businesses and sit at the heart of their local communities, so they are important employers who also provide an important service to their local customers, with Just Eat focused on getting them online to help keep their doors open.

Can you share one important lesson/observation/mantra that will inspire others?

Courage is contagious so never underestimate the power of this virtue to inspire growth within you and around you!

As a disruptor, not everyone always understood or recognised the vision and the goals of the Just Eat business model, but it’s been so rewarding to see the courage of so many now immersed in the need of the local community when they need it most.