Ben Redwood, Head of Growth at Sidekicker
From dreams of building Formula One race cars to discovering a passion for building marketplaces, Ben Redwood, Head of Growth at Sidekicker has had a really interesting career journey to date. Having completed his PhD in Engineering, Ben struggled to find a job that he was passionate about. Like many kiwis, exploring the world opened up Ben's eyes to the wide array of opportunities and ultimately led to Ben landing a job in Amsterdam for high-growth tech company.
After a number of years away, home was calling and Ben's passion for tech and marketplaces led to a role heading growth at Sidekicker. It is great to have someone of Ben's experience working back in the NZ tech ecosystem. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Ben.
Firstly, how would you explain to a five year old what it is you do?
With two kids under five, I have not had to tackle this problem yet but here we go; at Sidekicker we connect people who are looking for casual work with companies who need casual staff. We use technology to do this quickly and easily.
And for the adults, what does that translate to in regards to your day-to-day?
Growth! Sidekicker was founded in and is headquartered in Melbourne so NZ is a relatively new market for us. 50% of my job is to locate, engage and close new customers here while the other 50% focuses on building a scalable sales process within our team. This starts by measuring everything we are doing and using that information to double down on what we can see is working.
What are some of the common misconceptions about working in Sales?
That you need to be a pushy extrovert. In my opinion the two most important qualities in a sales person in 2021 are operational excellence and charm. Sales has changed significantly over the past 5 - 10 years. Customers no longer need to be wined and dined over a course of 12 - 18 months before they make a decision.
Companies (particularly tech companies) want solutions that they can implement quickly and easily. Selling to these companies is now all about finding out where their problem is and showing how you can solve it.
“..as a Mechanical Engineer I always wanted to design Formula One cars!”
Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?
Not at all. Studying in New Zealand ten years ago, tech was not something I had even heard of outside of Google or Facebook. And as a Mechanical Engineer I always wanted to design Formula One cars!
However, while travelling I started reading a lot about digital marketplaces (Uber, Airbnb) and was intrigued by how disruptive they were. Since then all my jobs have been in companies that utilize marketplaces and tech to reshape an industry.
“The first job I ended up taking was a Sales role for a Galvanizing Association helping to resist corrosion on structural steel (pretty much the sexiest industry you can think of).”
Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and ultimately about how you ended up working at SideKicker?
I finished uni with an Engineering degree and found it really difficult to find a job I was passionate about. The first job I ended up taking was a Sales role for a Galvanizing Association helping to resist corrosion on structural steel (pretty much the sexiest industry you can think of).
It was through that job I realised how much I enjoyed the problem solving that sales required and after traveling the world for a year landed a role in Sales at a tech company in Amsterdam (3D Hubs). I worked there for 4.5 years in a number of different roles helping the company grow from 20 to 180 people.
After nearly 8 years away from NZ my family and I decided to move home in late 2020. After looking for marketplace startups in Auckland I found Sidekicker and joined in January as the Head of Growth.
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
I actually came up with an anagram (SYNC) for this that I share with the teams I manage. It's the top 4 pieces of advice I have learnt throughout my career:
(S) urround yourself with the right people in ALL directions
(Y) our current job does not define you
(N) umbers matter but don't underestimate instinct
(C) ash in on what you are good at
What do you love about working at SideKicker?
We have an awesome, small team here in NZ that are a lot of fun to work with. On top of that we are taking risks and trying to break into new markets. It's challenging; finding new businesses and getting buy in, but we know we have a great product that really adds value with the right type of customer. Solving this problem is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
“I have found people who have worked in tech environments before understand the dynamic, fast paced, chaos that comes from growing a business at a break-neck pace.”
Lastly, SideKicker continues to grow and evolve. What kind of candidates do you think SideKicker is looking for in terms of experience, attitude and character?
Experience in tech is a big plus; I have found people who have worked in tech environments before understand the dynamic, fast paced, chaos that comes from growing a business at a break-neck pace.
We also want resilient problem solvers; people who have had roles where they need to quickly think on their feet, innovate to get things done and do not cave (but thrive) when the pressure really comes on.
Finally, a customer centric mindset that promotes stickiness; people who make decisions that improve our customers' experiences on Sidekicker and add value to their business all while helping lock them into our Product.