Position spotlight: Category Manager
In today’s position spotlight, we hear from Kira Oliver who left her consultant role in Canada to join our team in Berlin as a Category Manager and talk about her role, its impact on our customers, and her work with GetYourGuide Originals below.
Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Kira, I’m Canadian, and I moved to Berlin 6 months ago to join GetYourGuide as the Category Manager for guided walking tours.
Why did you choose Berlin?
When searching for a job, I knew I wanted to work abroad. I focused primarily on London and Amsterdam, but I had Berlin on my radar. When I came across GetYourGuide and the role, it sounded pretty perfect, so I applied.
Can you please give us an overview of your job?
Our inventory here breaks out into several categories — guided walking tours, attraction tickets, transfers, city cruises, hop-on hop-off buses, etc. — and we’re focused on how we can treat these categories differently to best serve the customer.
As Category Manager, I’m responsible for defining the strategy for our walking tours and ensuring this strategy is executed. In particular, I lead our GetYourGuide Originals, which are exclusive branded tours where we aim to provide a 5-star experience every time. This is one of our highest priority initiatives and our first dive into vertical integration.
I determine what we want to do with guided walking tours and how we want to think about and treat the category as a whole. I then work with different teams, like Product, Sales, and Marketing, and our in-destination partners to actually bring the strategy to life. This involves visiting amazing destinations to figure out the operational details of the tours. It’s a great mixture of long-term strategic thinking and examining data with being on the ground, talking to people, and getting real-time feedback from customers.
What is a day in the life of a Category Manager?
There really is no average day. One day, I might spend a few hours identifying the next tours we want to develop based on data and customer reviews, the next day I’m in back-to-back meetings with our Sales and Marketing teams discussing the development of new tour merchandise. The day after that I might be product-testing in Berlin, Rome, or Paris. There’s a lot of variety, which keeps the job incredibly interesting.
Many members of the Category Management team come from a consulting background. What skills from consultancy do you use as a Category Manager?
Strategy and problem-solving are at the core of both the consultant role and my role as a Category Manager. I draw heavily on the soft and hard skills I developed in consulting like project and stakeholder management, as well as the ability to perform an Excel analysis and present a story convincingly.
As a consultant, I gained a lot of experience from jumping between quite different tasks, altitudes, and ways of using my brain. Having had that experience, I can now easily switch between doing nitty-gritty data analysis, managing operational projects, working with guides, and presenting to different executives on a daily basis.
What is the main difference between your role here and your experience as a consultant?
In consulting, you come in to a new project, you work really hard, you make your recommendation, and then only rarely are you able to see the implementation of even a pilot phase. On the contrary, I’ve owned a crucial company initiative since I joined GetYourGuide 6 months ago; I am responsible for building it up from scratch, implementing and testing new ideas, learning from them, and then evolving the tours. Now, I get to observe, recommend, decide, and make improvements following implementation. I carry the baton from start to finish. This is a pretty significant and rewarding shift.
What opportunity for impact do you have in your role?
Through my work with GetYourGuide Originals, I have the opportunity to impact thousands of customers’ travel experiences. When I arrived at GetYourGuide, my task was to launch 10 new Originals tours bringing them from idea through implementation. I chose the tours, identified what made them special, brainstormed how to differentiate the tours on the ground, decided what the relationships with our local partners would look like, and determined how they would appear online to be booked by our customers. We’ve since launched a Colosseum tour, a Game of Thrones tour in Dubrovnik, and over a dozen more. These Originals tours have sold over 120,000 tickets so far, meaning my work, decisions, and collaboration with internal and external stakeholders has brought incredible travel experiences to thousands upon thousands of customers.
How would you describe your team’s working style and dynamic?
One of the neat things about being a small team is that we create the team norms as we go. I operate quite autonomously, but I work closely enough with my manager that we know what each other is doing. And, if I need support, the team is there.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
There is no playbook for what we’re doing. There are so many exciting things that we could do, but it’s not just me in a vacuum making it happen; every stakeholder, every team involved, needs to be aligned and have the bandwidth. I need to manage the breadth of all of the different things going on, identify which pieces will drive the most impact and then ruthlessly prioritize them, instead of trying to chase after every good idea. This can be a challenge.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
The most rewarding aspect is getting to create something and see it come to life. Every day I come into work, and I’m a part of a team where everyone is driven to create something amazing. Then, at the end of the day or month, you actually see the thing you’re working on alive in the world. I find it quite personally fulfilling and satisfying
What advice would you have for someone who would like to work as a Category Manager at GetYourGuide?
To be successful as a Category Manager, you need to be able to come to an informed data-driven decision quickly and then convince others of the merit of that decision. It takes a mix of strategic thinking, analytics, business judgement, and then communicating with stakeholders the motivation they need to move forward. You can’t neglect the numbers, the business, or the human element.
What is your favorite thing about working with GetYourGuide?
The culture at GetYourGuide is pretty special. When I first arrived in Berlin I didn’t know anybody, but GetYourGuide is such a welcoming environment that the transition was easy. I work with people from all across the organization, and everyone I work with is consistently positive, friendly and helpful. It’s an environment where I’m learning a lot, and having fun while doing so.