“Starting at Uber was a fortuitous turn of events,” shares Ayrton dos Santos, an entrepreneur at heart who first joined our customer experience team back in 2017 in South Africa, before leaving to pursue a mobility startup, and boomeranging back earlier this year to start a second chapter on the same team in Amsterdam leading rider experience.
Tell us about yourself.
“I am a South African native, born and raised in a vibrant and culturally diverse environment. My academic journey led me to study mechanical engineering, and I subsequently embarked on a dynamic professional path. Initially, I gained valuable experience in the mining, oil and gas industries, as well as in consulting. However, my passion for technology and innovation eventually led me to the tech industry, where I found a home at Uber.
Four years ago, my wife and I made a life-changing decision to move to the Netherlands, settling in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. Our joyous journey as parents began, and we welcomed our adorable daughter into the world two years ago. Beyond my career and family life, I have cultivated passions for cars, Formula One racing, and football. Staying active is essential to me, and I am currently immersed in training for a triathlon, embracing all the challenges it brings.”
Tell us about your Uber career journey.
“Starting at Uber was a fortuitous turn of events, as it coincided with the closure of a business I had embarked upon with a friend. Nevertheless, I look back on this as a silver lining to the end of an entrepreneurial chapter as Uber would go on to change my life in many ways. What immediately captivated me about Uber was the people and their genuine dedication to the company’s success, as well as their commitment to creating change in the world. It stands out as one of the most rewarding work cultures I have had the privilege to be a part of.
I initially joined as a Community Operations Manager in South Africa, meeting many amazing people, some who are still my friends and mentors today. My journey soon took another turn when I got the opportunity to lead the launch of support for JUMP (now Lime) bikes and scooters in EMEA. This was a fast-moving period launching 8+ cities in just a few months. After the launch, I moved onto other business lines, assisting with support and operations on Uber Freight and High Capacity Vehicles. I am now in the second chapter of my Uber journey and I recently rejoined to lead rider experience for Community Operations, having spent a year outside of Uber at a mobility startup in Amsterdam.”
How do you get the most out of our customer centric culture for users of our app?
“You must be ready to roll up your sleeves and dive into the frontline. Engaging in direct customer interactions and conducting interviews gives the team a firsthand insight into the questions and topics that are top of mind for users of our app. Leading by example through these efforts will encourage others to follow suit. A powerful example of this which has stuck with me, was from Uber’s first General Manager in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) who consistently made an effort to meet drivers monthly at the Greenlight Hub, always addressed riders’ concerns and ensured follow-ups were made regardless of the customers’ status or who they were. This consistent approach to valuing each customer, coming from the leadership, taught me that every customer counts and serves as a driving force behind my continuous focus on fostering a truly customer-centric culture.”
What are the most interesting challenges you solve at Uber?
“Community Operations sits at the intersection between the customer and the business, and we get to observe how customers experience our product and how they react to new changes and features we release. This also means we have the ability to analyze, understand and condense the vast amounts of feedback we get, into actionable insights that the business can use to continuously innovate.”
Tell us about one of your proudest moments at Uber.
“It’s hard to select only one moment during my time at Uber. I think the two moments that stand out for me are: One day in the Johannesburg Greenlight Hub I helped a driver who had just managed to finish the weekly payments on his vehicle. From that day on, he was beholden to nobody and was officially his own boss. The joy he expressed and the thanks he gave to Uber for providing him with the opportunity to earn a living is something that will always stay with me. It was at this moment I was convinced we were making a real difference in the world. Another example of a very proud moment was when we launched JUMP in Lisbon. We were on the ground and had spent the previous few days ensuring the teams at our support center were ready for launch. On the day it was great to experience the launch with the operations teams.”
How do you inspire others at Uber to thrive?
“The way I think about inspiring others at Uber to thrive centers around three areas:
Lead by example: I have had many instances throughout my career that have shown me the behaviors and actions of leadership are often what permeates throughout the organization. If I am expecting others to follow a set of cultural values and thrive, I need to act according to those values.
Encourage autonomy: I believe that people do their best work if they are given a task and allowed to get to the outcome however they wish within the guidelines of how Uber operates and with guidance along the way. It instills trust and allows the creative side of people to shine.
Lead with empathy: Everyone comes from a different background, and lives under a different set of circumstances. This is crucial to keep in mind when interacting with people on a daily basis. Being empathetic of someone’s situation and challenges outside the workplace will allow you to help them do their best within the workplace.”
Posted by Uber