The Women Tasked With Fixing Uber Speak Out About The Challenges Ahead

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The Women Tasked With Fixing Uber Speak Out About The Challenges Ahead

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“The party’s over here; I’m over here,” says Bozoma Saint John. She’s joking, of course.

The former Apple marketing executive made headlines when she was appointed Chief Brand Officer at Uber earlier this month, trading in her coveted gig for a challenging role in what has been described as one of Silicon Valley’s most aggressive workplaces. But as Saint John explained to Refinery29, she always trusts her gut. And while it’s hard to think of Uber as a place where any kind of celebration is currently taking place, the ridesharing company does seem ripe for a turnaround. Former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder’s investigation is done and its recommendations approved by Uber’s board. Now, a small — but mighty — group of women are at the forefront of reinventing its culture.

In addition to Saint John, who headed up global consumer marketing for Apple Music and iTunes, other recent hires of note include Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei as SVP of Leadership & Strategy, and Chief HR Officer Liane Hornsey, a former VP at Google. Massive failures, such as Uber has experienced, demand radical changes that may not have been realized otherwise. If these women manage to fix Uber, it won’t just be a victory for the company; it will be one for the tech industry at large.

“This is our burning platform moment,” Rachel Holt, Uber’s regional general manager for the U.S. and Canada, says of the company’s chance for action. She has been with Uber since 2011, and oversees Uber’s business in over 200 cities.

It may seem counterintuitive that women would want to take leadership risks at Uber, a company where evidence of inappropriate behavior towards women has stacked up. But the female Uber executives who spoke to Refinery29 for this story each stressed that they joined because they see an opening.

“The organization hit rock bottom,” Frei tells Refinery29. “And organizations can do a couple of things when that happens. One is, they can get defensive, they can go into a hole, and they can argue the facts. When I look at the immediacy and urgency with which [Uber] reacted when Susan Fowler’s situation was surfaced…holy cow has the organization reacted with enormous speed and vigor.”

 

 

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By | 2017-09-07T14:04:38+00:00 August 22nd, 2017|Tech|