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On the job with Leandro Fernandez

June 15, 2021 / Global

Our Technology Center in São Paulo, Brazil hosts Engineering teams building the tools and capabilities that power our global platform. Among the teams here is Safety & Insurance Engineering led by Leandro Fernandez, who build the innovative technology designed to protect the health and safety of everyone who uses Uber. Below, we chat with Leandro about the team, what they’re working on, and how they’re empowered to do their best work.

Tell us about your role.

“I’m an Engineering Manager on our Safety team, which helps support the health and safety of everyone on the Uber platform: drivers, riders, delivery people, etc. I lead two teams: Safety Marketplace, focused on Artificial Intelligence application, and Audio Recording, responsible for the audio recording functionality available to drivers and riders.”

What excites you about the work you do?

“The impact of my work. Uber’s platform affects the lives of millions of people. Building software here means improving the lives of all those people. It’s also really cool to see the people I know, when they hear I work at Uber, know about and use the features my team is creating. This is a sign that my work is making a difference!

Millions of users also means huge engineering complexity. Since I joined, my learning experience has been huge. The software here has to be built to handle a huge volume of data, transactions, and requests. Native solutions tend not to work very well. The technical depth is great, and so is the opportunity for growth.

Finally, I really enjoy working with the people at Uber. I work with the best engineers I’ve ever known in my career. And the best product people. And the best recruiters. And the best designers people. And the best scientists and data analysts. The list goes on…”

What are the most interesting challenges you need to solve in the Safety Marketplace? 

“In Safety Marketplace, our team focused on applying Machine Learning, is starting to explore (semi) automatic re-training of our models to overcome the challenge of guaranteeing that our models won’t become outdated. The danger of outdating has become more acute during the pandemic, since patterns change in a higher frequency and in irregular directions depending on the country. We’re starting to build mechanisms on top of our existing platform that, from time to time, will retrain our models with more recent data, and build comparative reports to the team. If there are performance gains, we can easily substitute the old models for the new.”

Safety offerings and services are quickly growing. Where are some of your next areas of focus?

“We’ve been talking a lot about how we will prepare for the moment when things return to their post-pandemic new normal. Our CEO talks about the second first-trip, the best possible second-first-trip experience for our users. From a Safety point of view, this means helping to ensure people feel safe when using the app.”  

Why join Uber’s Engineering team now?

“Because we have the best engineering team in Brazil. Because we deal with extremely complex challenges, both from an engineering and a human perspective. Because Uber has already changed the way people move, how people eat, and we’re going to change a lot more. Because our Tech Center in São Paulo is responsible for building the technology that brings this change to people’s lives. Because at the Tech Center in São Paulo, we have many career opportunities. In engineering, people can continue to grow their technical career or transition to a management career.”

How do you empower your team to do their best work?

“There’s a very important aspect of Uber that represents what I think well: ‘we are a culture of owners, not renters.’ Everyone at Uber has to feel that they own the company. If there is something wrong with the log in experience, even though you work in Safety, you have to feel empowered to do something about it. Whether it’s looking for the right team and collaborating with them, or solving it yourself. Like it’s your house: if a pipe is leaking in your house, you won’t look the other way. You have to fix it because no one will do it for you.

This is how I empower my teams. Everyone has autonomy about what they work on at each moment. I’m not going to say “so-and-so does this, so-and-so does that”. I try to develop a sense of priority in everyone, and I give people the freedom to go after what they believe in. Obviously, in an organized and well communicated way. But ultimately, the principle I believe is: work with smart people and give them freedom.”

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