This week we spoke with Student Beans' Head of Account Management, Ruth Baney and talked about what it's like to be an Account Manager at Student Beans, her career journey so far and how living in London compares to life back in Auckland, New Zealand!
Location: London, UK
One word that best describes your work style: Efficient
In three word, describe life at Student Beans: Challenging, rewarding and fun!
Favourite lunchtime activity: Spin or Circuit classes with my team at the Gym!
First of all, tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be where you are now.
Sure! My name is Ruth, I am Head of Account Management at Student Beans. I am originally from Auckland, New Zealand but I have now been in the UK for about 2 and a half years.
I graduated from Auckland University of Technology in 2012, where I completed a Bachelor of Business degree, focusing on economics and international business. After that, I moved to Australia where I worked as an Account Manager for 2 years and after that, I decided to move to London and here I am!
So, tell us about your role at Student Beans, what exactly do you do?
So, I manage a team of 6 Account Managers and we are all responsible for everything that happens with a client after they have signed up with us. So the Sales Team, they start the process by prospecting the clients, discover exactly what it is that they require and put together a package of services we provide, tailored to their company and its needs.
Once the clients are signed up with Student Beans, it’s then the Account Manager’s job to onboard them, collect all of the client’s assets, set them up with the technology and then provide continual support and manage the relationship from thereon out; which involves helping them to optimise the use of the technology, selling them media, working on “boosts” (which is the word used for when a brand schedules a tactical increase of their student discount to coincide with key events or specific times of the year) and working through the Student Calendar with them, so that they can roll-out targeted campaigns to maximise student engagement.
When did you join Student Beans and how did you hear about us?
I joined the company roughly 2 years ago, after seeing the job posted on LinkedIn. I actually joined at the busiest time of year - Freshers! So, I’ve just done my third freshers with Student Beans, which is absolutely mental!
At the time, what would you say was your main reason for wanting to join the company?
So, when I was in Australia, I was working in digital lead generation and I eventually reached a point where I thought, ‘I don’t want responsibility! I’m going to move to the UK and work as a Receptionist or something’, which to me and in comparison to what I was doing, was quite slow-paced and chilled out, but… I absolutely hated it! I very quickly decided it wasn’t for me and I wanted to get back into account management in the marketing and digital space, so that’s when I started looking for jobs and saw the role with Student Beans.
The role looked really similar to what I had done before and I really liked the look of the company, so I came for an interview and what really stood out to me and attracted me even more, was the atmosphere in the office and the people. It was a really great culture and it’s only gotten better since!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
This is a tough one! It’s between two… The first being, managing the team. I’ve got an awesome team of 5, who are all women at the moment - completely by accident! We’d love to have guys on the team, that’d be great and actually we are hiring at the moment, so if you’re reading this, make sure you check us out!
The second one, I’d have to say is having the opportunity to get out there and meet face to face with so many awesome brands! For example, I manage TopShop, Gymshark, Domino’s, KFC and loads of other really cool names that everybody knows. So, when people ask me what I do, I tell them and I tell them who my clients are and they’re always really impressed and keen to ask more questions. It’s really cool.
What is your team like?
So, as I just mentioned, there are 5 of us. We’re all obsessed with food and we’re also all obsessed with going to the gym, to work off all the food that we eat and talk about, non-stop!
My team are all exceptionally hard working, with fabulous personalities and I love that each person on my team has a really strong drive to win. So, when we all set our targets once a quarter, every single person on my team will not stop until they’ve smashed their targets and it’s great that we’re all so motivated - individually and together.
How would your colleagues describe you?
I often get described as ‘ruthless’, which is intentionally funny because, as i’m sure you’ve already noticed, my name is actually in the word.
I think also ‘caring’ because there’s nothing I won’t do to make sure that my team has everything they need to do their job, that they’re rewarded for their effort and and feel happy and supported.
Finally, I would say, ‘driven’. If there’s something that needs doing, I’ll just get up and do it and get it done. With everything I do, I will always do my best.
What apps and software could you not live without?
Definitely Asana and Slack.
Slack is so useful for us internally, to message each other if we want to get someone’s attention but we have also recently started using it when setting up our ‘Single Sign-On” solution with clients. So, when it’s super technical, we can get our engineering team and the clients engineering team into a Slack channel, where they can directly talk and set everything up quickly.
Asana is great because I can very quickly, create a task and then duplicate it across all five of my team members, set a due date and I know they’ll work on it and it’ll come back to me once they’re ready for me to review it.
What advice would you give to someone who’s interested in a career in account management?
I got into account management by actually working in operations first. So, I was doing the set up for accounts and then in the end, I came to know so much about all of them, having been the person who set the accounts up, monitored them and made sure we were aligned with budgets and things like that, that I was then able to transition into an account management role.
So, it was because I built up my knowledge that way, that I was able to become an Account Manager. So, unless you’ve specifically studied or trained to do so, I would look for a support role and work your way up. Strong people skills and communication skills are also great to have and key to being a successful Account Manager.
What is your top Student Beans highlight?
Personally, for me it’s when, just over a year ago, Mike, our Managing Director approached me and asked me if I’d like to join the leadership team. So, the leadership team is made up of senior members of staff across all the different areas of the business. So, there’s Mike and me, I represent account management, we’re also joined by our Commercial Director, our Operations Director, Technical Director, the Global VP of Sales and our Product Manager. We meet every Monday and we discuss what’s going on at Student Beans and create goals, which we call ‘rocks’, for the quarter ahead.
What’s your favourite thing about the company?
This one’s easy! It’s definitely, the culture and the people. I think anyone would say the same but I also have to say, it’s our clients. We’ve got awesome clients and it’s so cool because one of the benefits of working here, is that we get to use the Student Discount on all of our clients - which I use all the time! We all do!
What’s different about Student Beans compared to previous companies you’ve worked for?
Probably, the flexibility we have. I’ve never had flexi-hours before. I’ve never had free gym membership before, which I love. Also, the management style, of all of our managers. No one micromanages anyone here and even though we constantly have access to support when we need it, we have that freedom and the autonomy to do our job and do it well.
What are your top 3 favourite things about living and working in London?
The top one is travel. I love that Europe is on our doorstep and I can go anywhere over the weekend. Last weekend I went to Berlin and the weekend before that, I actually went to Dublin! Berlin was really cool! It’s full of Christmas markets at the moment and it’s so festive! So, definitely travel.
I also love the fast paced, bustling city, which I know a lot of people hate but London is so different to where I’m from in New Zealand. I grew up, literally, in the bush in New Zealand and now I’m living in an apartment, with no greenery and so much to do! There’s always something fun going on!
Finally, I really enjoy having a cold Christmas. My whole life, I always had Christmas on the beach and it’s so different having it in this climate, I love it.
Outside of working hours, what would we be mostly likely to find you doing?
Travelling, eating and spending time with my friends - either going out to bars or watching movies on the couch! I’m getting really into cooking again, I used to cook loads but stopped after I found I never actually had time! So I’m really liking that.
Finally, what’s one key lesson that you’ve learnt on your career journey so far?
I’d probably have to say, being confident, even when you don’t feel confident! Going into an interview or a meeting, even if you’re ridiculously nervous, try and put it to the back of your mind, be confident and also, don’t be scared to say no. To a client, to a colleague or anyone for that matter, it’s not a bad thing to say no and voice your opinion.