Q&A with Beth Smith: GM of UK and Head of AM at Particular Audience

Published 19th Apr 2022 by Caitlin McCartney
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Welcome to our blog series, ‘People of PA’. With each post, we’ll feature one-on-one interviews with the talented individuals on our global team. You’ll get to know the people inside the company, their story of hyper growth and what it’s really like working at Particular Audience.

Next up in our blog series meet Beth Smith, Global Head of Account Management and GM of the UK office. Prior to joining PA in 2019, Beth was the Ecommerce Lead at IKEA. Her PA journey is the embodiment of our unofficial motto; “Give more than you take.”

This conversation with Beth focuses on her reasons for joining PA, how the company has evolved and what she enjoys most about our fast paced environment.

Q: Hi Beth. Could you share a little on why you first joined PA?

A: Really, I wanted to do more to make a difference for customers. I worked with a recommendation vendor in my previous role and saw opportunities to collaborate better through clearer performance communication. When I read James' job advertisement I could see he was taking a really transparent approach, which was exciting.

I hadn’t come across any other vendors who were talking about personalization in such an expansive way - addressing basket-based margin and dynamic pricing, for example. I instantly knew I wanted to be a part of what he was building!

Q: What have you learnt from your experience client side (IKEA) that you’ve brought to PA?

A: My experience allows me to empathize with clients, as I’m familiar with the challenges they’re facing. I have intimate knowledge of the retailer's business from having been inside it, and I’ve also learned a lot from previously working with other account managers so I know exactly what makes for a positive client experience.

I understand what an Ecommerce leader needs to share internally to communicate efficiency and effectiveness. I think this has helped progress the relationship between Ecommerce/Digital leaders and the rest of a retailer's business, too.

Q: What were some of the craziest things that have happened along the way? (I hear you went on a trip to Paris and spent your time translating for Lindsay during pitch meetings?!)

A: Yes! In my second or third week we went to the Rakuten DealMaker conference in Paris. At one point I lived in Paris, so I absolutely jumped at the chance to go back. It wasn’t easy to get our message across at first - I had to cold call in French, which was daunting but fun.

Eventually I got to know some receptionists and figured out how to persuade them to put through my calls, which helped a lot. It was a whirlwind jumping from conference to conference and setting up meetings - we were sitting in showrooms trying to take meetings.

Q: What’s changed at PA over the years? How has the company evolved?

A: Some things have remained pretty constant, I would say the culture within the team is really similar to when I first joined. Everyone is extremely collaborative and cares about the business on a personal level, we all have an ownership mentality and put our team and the business first.

We’ve always looked beyond KPIs to make the most tangible difference for clients. At the same time, the tech we’ve developed has become so much more advanced - it’s really nuanced and powerful.

One thing that never changes is how inclusive the offices are, we’re super welcoming and it's been incredible to see the team grow so fast. We now have a bigger family of wonderful people.

Q: What was it like working in a company focused on hyper growth (especially from seed to series A)?

A: It’s definitely a challenge, there's a lot of new developments day to day, and especially working across different geographical regions it can sometimes feel like things change overnight. You have to be adaptable.

You need to be accommodating and trust people to make the best decision possible, as well as supporting them by helping them work through roadblocks.

Things move fast, so sometimes you can’t plan and have to make a judgment call. Working at Particular Audience has really encouraged me to take more risks and step outside my comfort zone, it’s exhilarating.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your role?

A: The best part about my role is definitely working with all the different clients and getting to know them and their businesses. I find that really enjoyable! When I made the move from IKEA I knew their business really well (I could name all the products!). At PA I have had the opportunity to deeply understand all different verticals and types of customers.

I love working with my team at PA - I’m surrounded by smart people dedicated to solving problems for clients and it’s a really great environment to work in.

Q: What have you learnt over the years (at PA or otherwise)? What’s one lesson or tip you’d give to someone if they were to start at PA tomorrow?

A: A lesson I’ve learned is to be really open and to ask lots of questions. I’d advise new starters to make sure they build great relationships with colleagues because we have a really strong team and the people who do well here are those that give more than they take.

Supporting others is the reason we succeed.

Q: What does the future hold for you at PA? What’s the future of Account Management at PA?

A: I know the account manager role will evolve as the product evolves. While I think there will always be a consultative account management role, there will be other types of roles that develop in the department. The team will continue to scale - so we’ll be bringing on lots of new and exciting people.

For me, it's more of the same. But the same is always very different at PA.

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