RACHEL, PRODUCT DIRECTOR
Rachel is nine years into a varied career which has already seen her working in venture capital, management consulting, start-ups and as a Board member of Europe’s top flight search site, Skycanner after they acquired her start-up, Zoombu, in December 2010. Rachel is now CEO & Founder of a product development company.
She kindly agreed to share her inspiring career story working at Sky Scanner with us:
WHERE DO YOU WORK?
I previously worked as the Product Director for Skyscanner, Europe’s leading flight search engine. I now run my own product development company.
WHERE DID YOU START YOUR CAREER?
I studied engineering at Oxford University and my first role after graduating was with the venture capital firm Oxford Capital Partners, where I evaluated new science and technology investments. I really enjoyed the role and industry but felt that I wanted to gain broader business experience, so moved into a position as a management consultant with Diamond (recently acquired by PriceWaterHouse Coopers). Three years in, I got itchy feet and was keen to do something more hands-on. So when an opportunity to co-found a company came along, I jumped at the chance.
HOW MANY YEARS INTO YOUR CAREER ARE YOU?
Nine years since graduating.
HOW MANY COMPANIES HAVE YOU WORKED FOR SO FAR IN YOUR CAREER?
Four, but if you count the clients I worked with when consulting, more like nine. I also interned at an engineering consultancy during my degree, so that’s ten.
HOW MANY HOURS A WEEK DO YOU WORK?
That’s a difficult one, as I’m not sure what counts as a typical week! I’d say around 55 hours. I usually try to take weekends off.
WHO DO YOU REPORT TO?
At Skyscanner I reported directly to the CEO.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO LEAVE YOUR PREVIOUS JOB?
I co-founded the travel search company Zoombu with a friend and colleague from university, Alistair Hann. We worked on the business for two years building up the core technology, partnerships and the team. Our business was acquired by Skyscanner in Dec 2010 and I was working with Skyscanner to make their travel search engine even better using what we learned at Zoombu.
WHAT ARE THE BEST BITS ABOUT THE JOB?
The culture at Skyscanner is brilliant – it’s very dynamic and innovative and every week is different. The company is now 100 people strong, profitable and growing quickly, but it still has the same start-up environment that I enjoyed about Zoombu. We’re creating lots of exciting new aspects to the product and the work of my team directly contributes to the bottom line, which is rewarding.
HOW DOES YOUR EXPERIENCE FROM YOUR PREVIOUS JOB(S), HELP YOU IN YOUR NEW ROLE?
Zoombu was tackling a lot of the same challenges as Skyscanner; travel search is a complex field of software engineering, and the business model is challenging to get right. Running a start-up is preparation for any role, but particularly fitting for my current role which is at the intersection of business and engineering and involves spinning many plates at any one time.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AT THE HEIGHT OF YOUR CAREER?
Running my own company, which I have just founded.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR TALENTED YOUNG PEOPLE BUILDING THEIR CAREER?
Don’t be afraid to try new opportunities or to take a leap into a new venture. It’s all too easy to get into the trap of waiting until the next promotion before trying something new, but if you’re not learning and constantly being challenged, it’s time to think about what’s next.
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