A Week in My Life: David Kelly, General Manager EMEA for Deputy

Josh Peachey's picture
by Josh Peachey

Deputy is a workforce management app that simplifies scheduling, timesheets, tasks and workplace communication.

Under David Kelly’s leadership, adoption of the software and app in the EMEA region has grown by over 100% in the past year. Here David shares a week in his working life…



The start of my week reflects the reality of working for a high-growth international tech business. We’re globally headquartered in Sydney, but here at our EMEA headquarters in London, there’s a definite startup feel to the business. On the one hand, we’re part of a large, well-established company with a depth of great people, process and support. Yet on the other, we’re an entrepreneurial operation with a degree of independence, high in ambition and enthusiasm to support a rising number of new customers in this part of the world. 

Akin to an SME, I typically kick off my working week by prioritising based on inputs at the managers meeting on Friday. This always gives me a good data based view of what got done and what needs attention. We generate a huge amount of data across the business. Everything is tracked, tested and analysed.

Anyone familiar with a start-up environment knows that a start-up week feels longer with a huge amount crammed in, but confusingly, seems to go quicker! So I believe planning and prioritisation and helping everyone to be clear on what we need to achieve is vital. Excitingly this week (see Thursday) involves a full EMEA team offsite so I make sure all preparations are in place for this.

Part of the reality of working for a business headquartered on the other side of the world is late night calls. Our current growth in APAC, North America and EMEA necessitates very close alignment, so every Monday, from 10:00pm to midnight, I join the global senior management call. As we’re in high growth mode, the agenda always covers a constant slew of strategic initiatives. This week we discussed the roll out of “Lattice” – our new performance management system – and updates on product and roadmap items for remainder of this year and next. We work hard to make sure we are all aligned as an Executive Team and that we are prioritising based on the things that are most likely to impact our various markets.


This morning I sit down with my newest team members, Sali Yaacub and Austin Armstrong. Sali, our implementation specialist, has moved to London from our Sydney office. I was delighted to poach her knowledge and expertise for our customers here! Austin recently joined us to lead enterprise sales for EMEA. In other words, he’ll develop relationships with large organisations both employing hourly-paid and salaried workers who operate shift patterns, looking at how they can use technology to drive productivity and efficiency, as well as build great engagement with their employees. He did the same role for a scale-up in Canada!

We’re particularly well placed to support retail, hospitality and healthcare businesses in London, the UK and across Europe and beyond, so I take them both through several customer stories from this year, and we chat about the legislative and consumer differences (from their home markets) that affect both our messaging and our deployments.

I never underestimate the importance of the people element to business growth. My philosophy is to be around to provide support and for people to know I’m there if they need me. But also not to get in their way.  If we’re not in the same office, that principle works digitally too and builds the foundations of a tight-knit team who all know they can trust in each other.

I do a lot of coaching and one-to-ones, so have further catch-ups planned today both in-person and using video. It reflects the soul of the business to have an open door and be transparent.

We’re constantly hiring, particularly sales implementation and support people – so I give a chunk of time to recruitment planning too. Any investor will say “first, build your team; get your people in place”. As a young brand we have to be entrepreneurial to appeal to great talent – good use of social media has really helped with this, as has the story of our phenomenal growth, and the type of opportunities and environment we offer.


Given we ourselves are growing as a business, we often find common ground with many of our customers experiencing the opportunities and challenges that come with expansion.

Today I have meetings to discuss exciting current implementations with two new customers: Deliveroo and Roadchef. Deliveroo (post Amazon investment) aim to be the principal logistics platform for food delivery. They are growing like crazy and all operations and customer service teams work shift patterns (this doesn’t include the bikers!) The engagement stretches across Europe and in to APAC but is centrally managed and coordinated from the UK.

Roadchef are a fascinating business: they operate the franchises of everyone on their estates – Costa, WH Smith, McDonalds and Leon. They share labour pools across these operations too but they all have slightly different demand drivers. Consulting on those inputs and engaging our algorithms partner (‘Widget Brain’) to figure it out has been great fun.

Since I joined Deputy in July 2018 the team has increased adoption of our app across EMEA by more than 100% – something everyone’s very proud of. One of my favourite bits of the role is allowing people to release their inner entrepreneur and innovate around new markets. Early afternoon I check the status of a great example of this – our launch in Scotland, to be marked by over 750 staff across 16 venues using the app for the first time during this August’s Edinburgh Fringe. This came as a result of one Scottish organisation expanding to cater for the increased traffic at the festival and introducing us to one of the main event coordinators. 

Later in the afternoon I have a product meeting to discuss the completion of our new leave management functionality. Built specifically for the UK market, this new feature helps employers more easily track and process leave accrued by hourly-paid employees. With prime summer holiday season underway, we met our target to get this live.


Nowadays, it’s normal to work with dispersed teams, particularly in sales and customer-facing environments. So I’m very excited that we’ll today hold our “H2 kick-off” bringing everyone together. Anyone who’s worked in a sales and marketing environment will be familiar with the concept of the “kick-off” but for me it’s not just an opportunity to energise the entire Deputy EMEA team for the second half of our financial year, but to really hone in on culture and creativity. 

Culture is what binds a team and adds a largely immeasurable advantage to the business. We talk to a lot of customers about how they can use technology to drive a highly engaged workforce, so as you’d expect, this is central to life at Deputy too. To enable creativity, you have to create moments to lift your head out of the day-job. If we don’t do this we miss opportunities and risk standing still when the world around us is moving fast.

In the morning we all headed to citizenM (a Deputy customer) in Tower Hill, from where we did a scavenger hunt! My fabulous team came up with a great series of wacky challenges to complete – involving many local Deputy customers. It included human pyramids, convincing our customers to don a Deputy T-shirt, finding a local celebrity and much more. It’s amazing what qualities you spot in your colleagues when you all do something totally out of the ordinary. And we were fully energised for the rest of the day!

In the afternoon we get down to business and use it as an opportunity to look up and back at the progress we made in H1, before moving onto what we’ll do in H2. There’s massive value in the energy produced by taking a creative, start-up approach to the way a team is run and how offsites are conducted.


Amongst checking in with the team on the week’s progress, today I have a call with Sage, to lock down details for our upcoming partnership. 

Partners are incredibly important to our business. We provide a workforce management app, but form part of an ecosystem of other tech providers such as payroll and point of sale systems, and AI algorithm suppliers for truly specific demand planning. Ensuring we integrate with these other technologies means better choice, ease of use and efficiency for our customers.

Given Sage’s scale, not only as the UK’s largest listed tech business, but also as the provider of over 50% of UK payroll, we’ve been working with their VP of Alliances. Our discussion has evolved based on how Sage are moving their clients from legacy solutions into cloud subscription products, and how they will make their product more valuable by creating an ecosystem – part of which is Deputy. I discuss with them how Deputy will feature on Sage’s marketplace in the not too distant future.

What advice can I share to punch above your weight when seeking partnerships with larger organisations? Firstly, take a deep breath and be patient! Be prepared for detailed conversation across lots of different parts of the prospective partner’s business. You must understand the organisation to engage the right people. A lot of it is around the legal and financial interlock. It’s taken us a year to get agreement and paperwork in place with multiple trips to see Sage in Newcastle. Secondly, talk to the partner about the opportunity and the advantages you bring – in our case the addressable market and speed to value – then focus on how the two solutions complement each other. Don’t dwell purely on your product, as good as it may be!