How networking helps to climb the ladder. An Interview with Rob Harrison Senior Operations Analyst at UberEats

A conversation about Rob’s experiences working at UberEats during its launch, what the Uber working environment is like and how networking has helped him climb the ladder.

Would you mind quickly introducing yourself?

I’m Rob, a Senior Operations Manager at Uber, I’ve done a Masters at the LSE and my undergraduate studies in the University of Birmingham, with a year abroad in Amsterdam.

What did you do at University that led to your role at Uber?

I actually fell into it accidentally. I was doing my Masters at LSE and was finding some temporary work to do whilst writing my thesis. I then got a call from Uber concerning a customer service role and this turns out to be the launch of Uber Eats. I started off as a temporary contractor for UberEats but as I got to know the environment and the people, I really felt enthused to stay after my studies.

What is the environment at Uber like?

It’s really different from what you would expect from any other graduate role. It’s a lot less certain but a lot more exciting. From what I’ve gathered from my friends in other graduate roles, you go through rotations, specialize and are basically guaranteed a steady progression over time. At Uber, it is much less structured and you tend to work on what needs working on at the time, this means you end up being exposed to everything all at once. This means that it may end up being a lot of hard work, but I’ve definitely not really felt it as it’s been so enjoyable. It’s been so fun firstly because the people are amazing and secondly, I started when UberEats was relatively small so I got to see the impacts of the things I was working on first hand and rather quickly.

How do undergraduates get an entry level job at Uber?

From my understanding, there isn’t an undergraduate scheme but for entry level you would probably start as contractor, as I did, but it’s rather rare for you to see people enter the firm and progress through seniority. It is likely that roles are made to serve some specific purpose are usually short-term requirements, like if we needed a lot of short term on boarding reps. The best way is to get a decent total of work experience at uni, maybe a sum total of a year’s work in business operations in tech firms and then apply for the role of coordinator, which is an informal Level 2 within Uber. Some relevant experiences may be consulting, just because the skill sets, we look for are pretty similar, like on the spot problem solving.

So, what does operations actually entail?

So, it’s actually rather broad and a lot of people within the firm hold the label of operations manager. To sum, there are market place operations, courier operations and restaurant operations. Some operations managers are more focused on the analytics and solving problems businesses may face, others may be focused on team management and others in marketing. It can really vary.

What’s your experience climbing the ladder?

At the beginning, I was just a contractor, taking and setting up tablets in various restaurants. I then became an analyst and worked on the analytics team, writing accounts for managers and building restaurant reports. I got promoted to be a restaurant operations coordinator, for first job was to lead the on boarding team and the goal there was to help restaurants set up with UberEats and over my year and a half working in that role, we worked on automating that process and integrating it with our internal process. After this, I got promoted to being an operations manager and took on a couple of extra projects where I worked for another year before moving to Leeds and leading the marketing operations team there as UberEats at the time was trying to build their regional presence.

How has networking helped in terms of your career progressions?

A lot. I honestly find it pretty difficult but also know that it’s super important. You need to build up a reputation at the firm and find a few mentors to guide you along on the process. This has really helped me as I get frequent messages from people I’ve worked with previously about roles to join in the firms that they’re currently working in.

I think I’d offer some advice from my own experience, which is to not go into anything with any preconceived notions and to not feel like you have to follow the homogenous track. I would definitely recommend people to just try a lot of things to try and feel out what suits them best.

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