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Iliyana sees the forest and the trees to grow her career and give back

December 5, 2022 / Global

In 2018, Iliyana Zdravkova made the move from Bulgaria to join Uber in Amsterdam as our Head of EMEA Workforce Management (WFM) for Community Operations. Today, as both a business leader and committee member of our Women at Uber Employee Resource Group, Iliyana is championing a culture centered on community, inclusion, and seeing the forest and the trees. 

Tell us about yourself.

“My career started as a customer support agent in a contact centre during my first year in university. It was a job that provided the flexibility I needed at the time to be able to attend classes. Since then, I’ve had different roles in the contact centre support industry, from operations, to reporting, to resource management, and the last 15 years in workforce management. The positions I held were intentionally a mix of individual contributor and people manager roles because I wanted to gain experience in both areas.

I joined the Global Support Operations team at Uber in early 2019 as Head of EMEA Workforce Management helping to ensure we have the best and most efficient workforce setup. Since then I had the opportunity and pleasure to lead the WFM function for the region, and at times EMEA vendor management and business planning as part of Community Operations, our global team handling all-things customer care.”

How does Community Operations make Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion a priority? 

“Everyone has equal opportunity–whether that’s working on a project, a stretch opportunity or moving forward in their career. As a leadership team, we regularly review our progress in ensuring we have equal and diverse representation within our teams and during recruitment processes and promotion discussions. We make sure that we have a diverse group of interviewers in every process and proactively engage candidates from all different places with all different skills.”

How do you empower and support women at Uber to thrive? 

“I’m a member of our Women at Uber (W@U) Employee Resource group and was the co-lead for our EMEA W@U professional development committee. We’ve organised many impactful events with internal and external speakers helping members feel heard and comfortable in their roles and the company overall. 

To celebrate the International Women’s Day in 2021, we organised and hosted a roundtable with senior female leaders from different business areas within Uber who shared their own personal career journeys, experiences, and advice on how to build self-confidence to thrive in the workplace. We had over 100 participants who shared feedback after the session that confidence is a key ingredient for women to speak up, challenge and also celebrate their own and other women’s successes so hearing about other women’s experiences was empowering.

In 2022, the idea for a more functional specific group came to life and I became the co-founder of Women in Analytics, a program designed to mentor, support and promote career development for the women of Uber in analytical roles. With my manager at the time and a few more women on our team who are also very passionate about developing female talent, we set up some small group mentorship and support to grow the team and invited other women and allies in other analytics teams within our Community Operations organisation to join. Our intent is to help with skills in presentation, personal brand, interviewing, and confidence.”

What Uber value do you identify the most with and why?

“I’ve always identified with See the forest and the trees. It speaks to my own personal values  of understanding the details, but also focusing on the bigger picture and a strong interest in not only the what but also the how and logic behind it. It also aligns with how I see myself navigating the Uber world. In a very functional role such as mine, it’s important to be able to get into the details of the work but also as a leader I need to take a step back, reassess and define what the strategy for the team should be.”

How have you maintained resilience during challenges in your career? 

“We all face challenges during our careers related to work environment, stakeholder relationships, workload, people management and more. What I have found to be the most helpful thing to do through these moments is to keep my eyes on the prize, focusing on always doing what is right, not being afraid to speak up or ask for help and as simple as it sounds, do one thing at a time. Break down the challenges in smaller pieces, focusing on dealing with them in a structured and systematic way. Before you know it, you’ve made progress.”

What’s a challenge you’ve taken on at Uber that has redefined what you believed is possible? 

“At one point, I was leading several teams at the same time. While professionally the stretch opportunity was exciting, I felt a huge responsibility towards the leaders who entrusted me with these teams, the people who were part of these groups and balancing all this with keeping a high bar for all of us and meeting business goals.”

Interested in joining us? Explore life on the Community Operations team