Being part of a business challenge can be exciting
Uber’s mobility policy encourages employees to look for jobs within the company
Ask anyone which are the apps that they use the most on their phones, and chances are one would be a cab booking service and another probably related to food ordering. Luckily for some, Uber Technologies is present in both segments—Uber Rides for cab hailing and Uber Eats for food ordering. This gives a lot of opportunity for people to try both sides of the business before deciding which one they are most suitable for.
“One of the things we want to focus on is what keeps our employees happy and with the company. We are a high-growth company, and as we are expanding in different areas and in different locations, we are trying to make sure that our employees can grow in their careers together in this journey with us,” says Vishpala Reddy, regional HR director, Asia Pacific, Uber.
Uber’s mobility policy encourages employees to look for jobs within the company. The job openings are posted on a platform, and one needs to complete a minimum of 12 months to apply for a new role. According to Reddy, this also sometimes helps in preventing attrition. An internal coaching platform is also available for employees who want to learn more about a new role or have doubts about the responsibilities an opportunity might bring. “Like in most companies, as people approach the two or three year mark, they start thinking ‘what next’. And it is fortunate for us because we have two growing businesses. As long as there are challenging opportunities where people feel like they are contributing, they are happy,” she adds.
For Viral Jhaveri, 32, who joined Uber (Rides) as a general manager three years ago, the opportunity was great as he got to see the company grow in many cities. But Jhaveri has also always been close to the food industry—having worked in the restaurant business and then for a few months at food start-up TinyOwl. So, when Uber decided to launch Eats in Mumbai, he could not pass up the option to work in that area.
“When I had joined Rides, it was already a known name. But this was a different ball game. It was the market entry for Uber Eats—with new challenges and possibilities and I wanted to be a part of it,” he says. It also helped that the new role would be based out of Mumbai, and would therefore give Jhaveri an opportunity to move back to his home town from Gujarat, where he was posted.
Learning from experience:
“It helped that I knew the combination of how Uber functions, and how a restaurant business functions. My work today is a mix of sales, operation and marketing, all of which I have learnt from my previous role,” adds Jhaveri who had co-founded frozen yoghurt chain, Yogurtbay in Mumbai in 2010. Having this background and context helped him to understand the challenges of restaurant owners while trying to set up Uber Eats as well.
Joining as the head of the community operations in 2015, Bansi Kotecha moved to the role of general manager (city operations) after a year. Kotecha, 36, currently is a general manager at Uber Eats, moving to the new role in March. “It took a month for me to transition from the Rides business to Eats. While the interviewers realized that I understood the culture, they needed to evaluate me to see if I understand the new business,” he says.
According to Kotecha, everything from building teams to actually running operations on the ground, tools and techniques to manage people—all of these lessons are useful even in the setting up of the Eats business.
Jhaveri believes that while the roles have changed, ultimately the power of the platform is similar—be it Rides or Eats. “However a bit of unlearning was required. It took me a few days to realize that the fundamental product we are offering is different,” he adds. According to Jhaveri, if a client does not get access to an Uber vehicle, it complicates things. But if he/she cannot get food through Uber Eats—there is always the option of calling up the restaurant to order, or going to a competitor app or dining in, etc. Sensitivity to pricing is also very different.
One thing that both Jhaveri and Kotecha admit is that for anyone looking to change their role, the person should be clear that this is something that excites him or her. That said they had to prepare for the role.
Eats is new in India, but exists in other parts of the world. “This meant, there was a ready bank of knowledge available for me. I reached out to my network who had a similar profile and asked them for tips and things to watch out for,” adds Kotecha.
Jhaveri adds that a lot of people think of progress only in terms of upward movement but believes that one should also look at it as lateral movement. “Having a very open mind is going to take you far, as opposed to thinking that I will do only certain roles and not do others,” he says.
Movers and Shakers looks at individuals who have changed their roles within the company and the challenges they have faced.
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