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David Getachew-Smith joined Uber to make a difference

April 19, 2021 / Global

Seeing Uber provide economic opportunity in his local Atlanta community, David Getachew-Smith joined in 2014 with a drive to be part of this new business and have a positive impact on his hometown. Now based in Chicago, David is a Program Leader for Community Operations where he focuses on implementing customer feedback to improve our products and experiences.

How did your early experiences shape your sense of belonging? 

“My early experiences are rooted in a mix of Ethiopian culture and the history of Atlanta’s African American community. I was taught early on by my family to invest in my community and to try to have a positive impact. 

Joining Uber was one of the results of that lesson I heard over and over again. Uber was providing economic opportunity for quite a few people and improving the ability to move around neighborhoods that were historically isolated. While we haven’t done everything perfectly, I do firmly believe that Uber’s presence has had a positive impact on not only my hometown, but across the world.” 

Tell us about your career journey. Were there any pivotal turning points? 

“Prior to joining Uber in 2014, I worked for an Industrial Supplier in Contact Center and Warehouse leadership roles. I spent 4 years as a people manager and focused on operational excellence and improving the customer experience. 

Early in my career, I wanted the opportunity to learn about as many parts of a business as possible. Since the role was a rotational program, my goal was to find the type of work that I wanted to do for the rest of my career within the first few years. In retrospect, I think it was optimistic of me to think that I’d be able to find the perfect answer, but I did recognize that I had a passion for mentoring others and working with others to improve. I really started to feel effective in roles once I learned to accept that I couldn’t do everything perfectly and that I’d have missteps along my career path. 

As a new manager, I tried to implement policy, change processes, and communicate consistently to everyone in my organization. Ultimately, I wasn’t as effective as I wanted to be and had to learn quickly how to embed reflection into my approach. It was a turning point in my career when I recognized that no single interaction was going to be the same and that I had to learn to tailor my approach to each person, which required me to slow down and listen to different perspectives and experiences.” 

Tell us about your growth journey at Uber.

“One of the main reasons that I wanted to join Uber in 2014 was to have an impact on my community in Atlanta. I recognized that joining a team focused on a specific market would allow me to feel as if I were operating a business within the larger organization. With that, it required the Atlanta team members to take on tasks that were outside of our job descriptions. I knew I was taking a role that would push me outside of my comfort zone and would require me to gain skills in order to become successful. For instance, when I started, I knew that I would be responsible for managing customer support interactions, but I didn’t know that within a couple of months that I’d be opening one of our first Greenlight Hubs in the world. 

After a couple of years focused on drivers in Atlanta and attempting to have an impact on my community, I recognized that I wanted to take on a different challenge to build on my experience. Specifically, I started to look for Black leaders in the organization that I respected and wanted to work closely with in the future. After a few meetings over a couple of months and getting a better sense of upcoming opportunities, I found myself moving to Chicago in a lateral move to be a part of the growing Center of Excellence. 

Over four years later and three different roles, I’m still just as focused on helping my teams succeed and working to ensure that we recover gracefully and implement the feedback of our users to improve our products and overall customer experience.” 

What’s your advice for anyone looking to join Uber?

“My advice to anyone looking to join Uber would be to get ready to move quickly and remain flexible. It’s exciting to know that there is always another challenge that’s right around the corner. The ability to pivot and multi-task is essential here in order to be successful. I mentioned earlier that my approach to driving my development is a mix of putting myself in new situations and finding leaders that can teach me something new. But I’m also aware that I need to ensure I’m providing the same level of mentorship that I’ve received to others looking for their next opportunities. Basically, don’t forget the path that earned you success, and make sure you’re passing what you’ve learned to others as they go through their own career journey.” 

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