As Country Manager for the UK at Waze, Ru Roberts drives customer engagement with the ever-popular app and looks for ways to use advertising revenue to fuel innovation.

It’s no wonder that his Shiny New Object is an innovative partnership: the Waze celebrity co-pilot, turning well-known voices into driving guides on Britain’s roads.

The celebrity co-pilot idea for a famous navigation voice started in the UK with Dizzee Rascal, who turns out to be a great fan of the Waze brand. This allowed Waze to not only get a fun, entertaining new feature, but it also creates a two-way benefit as it enhances the celebrity’s engagement with their fans, too.

Speaking to Ru about innovation at Waze and in his previous roles at Google and the New York Times, we travelled through his transformation and shifting of priorities in life and work. After many years driven solely by his career, Ru believes that natural life stages lead you to develop a more “selfish” attitude, firstly to prioritise family, and secondly your own time and interests. Learning to do this and to say “no” has allowed him to focus on the key exciting work projects that drive his performance.

While being “more selfish” has helped make Ru more productive and focused on his key deliverables in work and out of work, it has also led to a great piece of learning summed up by two quotes: “Always look forward, never look sideways” and “You can only really compare yourself to you from a week ago or a year ago.” These are Ru’s driving mantras – supporting a great work/life balance, too. 

Talking about his Shiny New Object, Ru told me how the collaboration with Dizzee Rascal came about and also how Waze have launched a series of fun means to engage customers this festive season: Santa’s voice as your navigator, a personalised Christmas mood and more. All these ideas are developing Waze’s brand as an entertaining, friendly family app, carrying PR benefits for them and the celebrities they work with. 

For more on Ru’s advice on developing great behaviours and the stories behind Waze’s celebrity co-pilot, check out the full podcast episode here.

Tom Ollerton is the Founder of Automated Creative. Subscribe to the ‘Shiny New Object’ Podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube and Soundcloud.

Picture credit: Dizzee Rascal Instagram.