Uber seeks to double its India workforce to 1,000

Online taxi firm Uber went from a headcount of 150 in early 2015 to 500 by the end of the year, and is keeping up the pace to catch up with larger rival Ola

Uber has committed $1 billion of investment in India. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
Uber has committed $1 billion of investment in India. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Bengaluru: Ride-hailing service Uber’s intention to grab a bigger share of the Indian market is mirrored in the way it is expanding its workforce.

This year, Uber Technologies’ Indian unit will be hiring more than one employee a day as it seeks to double its workforce to 1,000 to support its expansion in a country where it has committed $1 billion of investment.

Uber went from a headcount of 150 in early 2015 to 500 by the end of the year, and is keeping up the pace as it tries to catch up with larger rival Ola. Uber, which claims to have a market share of 40%, is present in 27 cities. Ola cabs ply in 102 cities. Both have made conflicting market share claims in the past that cannot be independently ascertained.

“We are looking at hiring heavily this year as we are looking to expand our central marketing team, operations team and our centre of excellence. We are on the lookout for more hustlers who can work under the toughest conditions but who are also analytical,” said Uber India recruiting lead Pradeep Desu.

Uber set up the centre in Hyderabad at a cost of $50 million in February to provide all-day support experience for riders and driver-partners in India and also to improve product and operations, with a focus on providing support for incidents that require immediate attention.

While Uber has mostly been hiring engineers from the Indian Institutes of Technology and other premier engineering colleges, for the first time in 2015, it also began hiring from the arts and commerce streams.

In November, it hired 100 people, 80 of whom were from arts and commerce colleges such as Lady Shri Ram College for Women and Shri Ram College of Commerce in New Delhi and St. Xavier’s College in Kolkata.

Some of these hires will also be for its marketing function, which Uber is now moving from being a city-specific function to one that is centrally managed.

“We’ve earlier had marketing teams, who were responsible for marketing efforts for their specific city. As we’re growing rapidly and we have more national partnerships with brands, we have now created a central marketing team whose core focus will be to garner more partnerships and build our existing network pan-India,” said Desu.

Uber is offering salaries of Rs.5-7 lakh for marketing coordinators, according to the colleges’ placement cells, on par with what other start-ups offer.

Though adding such a large number in such a short time can be a formidable task, the likes of Uber have a good thing going.

“The older generation of tech companies are already out of vogue among young talent. The new Internet and tech companies are in demand among techies and even for management roles. So, they won’t find any difficulty in attracting talent,” said R. Suresh, managing director of RGF Executive Search, a recruitment firm.

Rasshe Goswami, a sociology graduate from Lady Shri Ram College who has been shortlisted by the company, said she chose Uber over other companies for the way it positioned itself.

“It is a young and hip company, which is very evident from the way it communicates with its users. Moreover, unlike other companies, who usually want to pick students only from commerce and statistics streams, Uber recognized that there is talent available in other streams too,” said the 20-year old.

However, managing the transition to a larger organization could be a challenge for Uber.

“It has become fashionable to hire more as it is a sign of good times. There is a tendency to overestimate the need for talent as the market (share) is going up, and suddenly you may find yourself with excess people when things slow down,” said Suresh. “Companies that are hiring in large numbers need to have role clarity and have a clear HR road map in place before bringing in large numbers.”

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