Uber Rides—from UberX to Uber Black—transport millions around the world. But the reality is that there are many people for whom the Uber Rides price point remains too high to allow it to be a reliable and regular form of transport. Our network of Uber Shuttles brings the magic of Uber to more people around the world, filling a price and comfort gap in the mobility marketplace with vehicles that can support 7-50 people at a time. Nikolaas Van de Loock, our General Manager for Uber Shuttle in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, based in Amsterdam is key to expanding into new markets.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
“I grew up in Belgium where I studied Engineering before moving to London to pursue a second Master’s degree. While Belgium is a nice place to live thanks to its waffles, chocolate, fries and beer, I spent most of my student time traveling the world as I competed professionally in sailing. After graduation, the appetite for sports stuck and I competed in IRONMANs and marathons around the world, with the cherry on the cake being a 250km self-sufficient running race through the Sahara desert.
Before joining Uber 6 years ago I worked as a Strategy Consultant at a consumer goods company based in Switzerland.”
You’ve had a few different roles at Uber. Can you tell us about a few key moments in your career journey?
“In 6 years at Uber, I’ve worked on 3 very different teams in 3 parts of our business. I joined our Rides team in 2016 to focus on Strategy & Planning, after which I moved to JUMP (on-demand electric bikes and scooters) as a GM for Benelux, from where I transitioned into my current role as GM of EMEA for HCVs.
The key moment for me at Uber was when I start thinking about what I wanted to do in 2019 after my 6 years in strategy. Strategy work provided exposure to different parts of the business, but I realized that I wanted to start turning the buttons myself and had to think where I could best learn how to do it, especially given I had little to no operational experience. Moving over to JUMP turned out to be an amazing opportunity, and while the business transitioned to LIME, I look back at an amazing, very operational experience during my 2 years there.”
What are HCVs?
“HCVs are high-capacity vehicles, also known as Uber Shuttle. This can range from 7-seaters all the way up to 50-seat buses. HCVs run on a fixed route, with a fixed timing network across several cities in India, Mexico, Brazil, and Egypt. The price point of a trip is often less than a dollar for a commute from one part of town to another.”
Where do HCVs fit into the Uber of tomorrow?
“Through our Uber Rides business, we transport millions of people all around the world. But the reality is that there are many people in other countries for whom the Uber Rides price point is too high and who are therefore reliant on more unreliable forms of transport or locked out of transport routes. HCVs allow us to provide this middle segment of people a safe, reliable, and affordable way of commuting around their communities.”
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about working at Uber?
“While Uber is a large company, it amazes me how much responsibility and room for your own initiative there is. Across the different businesses, teams make informed decisions at a very fast pace.
We get the freedom to suggest and also execute ideas or projects that we believe will drive the business forward. Having that ability to influence and steer the business while being supported by the infrastructure that a large company like Uber brings gets me excited every day.”
What do you look for in anyone joining your team?
“HCVs are one of Uber’s growth bets, meaning that we are still in the early stages of our growth (something about tips and icebergs). The entire HCV team is made up of smart hustlers. We need people that can get stuff done, but get it done in an informed way. We are looking for a combination of people that are book smart, but also have street smarts.”