New parents have a lot to balance at work and home, and as most will attest, it can be challenging. How are parents at Uber managing to grow careers while maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and how does Uber support through it all? Below, we chat with Aigerim Kulseitova, Lead, Central Operations, and Ludovic Georges, Head of Rider Operations for the UK & Ireland.
Tell us about yourself and your career journey with Uber.
Aigerim: “I was born and grew up in Almaty, Kazakhstan, before moving to the UK for my undergraduate. After that, I worked as a strategy consultant, did an MBA at INSEAD, and spent some time working at Amazon in London. I joined Uber and moved to Amsterdam 4 years ago. This whole time I have been a part of the Central Operations Marketplace team. In my (admittedly somewhat biased) opinion, we work on some of the most fascinating topics at the company, trying to make Uber marketplace magic work to its fullest potential.
My scope gradually expanded over these years, and now I lead the Pricing team. Our focus is to scale innovative solutions across EMEA and make pricing work for riders, drivers, and the business, which is not always an easy puzzle to solve, but that’s what I really enjoy about my job. Outside work I enjoy crafts, building Lego, and baking, but as a mother of a toddler, I tend to spend most of my spare time with her.”
Ludovic: “I live in London with my partner and our baby daughter. I am the Head of Rider Operations for Uber in the United Kingdom. I started my journey at Uber about 8 years ago as a Strategy & Planning Associate in London and spent 6 years in the Strategy & Planning team where I had the opportunity to work on a variety of topics (e.g., growth, regulations) and to cover a range of markets (e.g., Nordics, Benelux, Central & Eastern Europe). I made the jump to operations two years ago and have been leading the UK Rider Operations team since.”
How long were you on maternity/paternity leave, and what was it like to return to work?
Aigerim: “Maternity leave in the Netherlands is 4 months, which is roughly how long I took. For me, it was perfectly enough as I started to miss my job a lot towards the end of my leave. Uber is a place that moves fast, and, even though I was out for a relatively short period of time, I still had a lot to catch up with. That said, my team and the leadership were very supportive throughout. I am also grateful to the team for how they stepped up to cover for me while I was out.”
Ludovic: “I was on paternity leave for 18 weeks. To be honest, going back to work was incredibly challenging. It was particularly hard during the first couple of weeks when I had to catch up on a huge amount of content at work while balancing helping out at home. It got a lot better over time as I got back into the rhythm, and made a few changes to my ways of working (e.g., be more deliberate when prioritising my time at the start of each week, delegate more team management responsibilities to my directs, consistently “say no” to meetings where my presence is not critical) and was able to establish a routine that now enables me to better balance “work” and “non-work”. It is a journey.”
How do you feel about Uber’s parental benefits and how they helped you as a new parent?
Aigerim: “At Uber, all parents, regardless of their gender, are entitled to 18 weeks of paid parental leave. It is something that is close to my heart as I come from a culture where women are expected to be primary caregivers, which creates a lot of imbalance in society. I find it very inspiring that everyone at Uber can spend that time with their families, and most people I know make use of that benefit, regardless of their seniority.
Another parental benefit I enjoyed was a subscription to an app that connects you with an adviser that supports you throughout pregnancy and early days of parenting. They can also find specialists that you can speak to about newborn sleep, breastfeeding, work-life balance, and many other relevant topics.
Last, but not least, I was very pleased to find out that the Uber office had best-in-class nursing facilities, such as hospital-grade pumps, which I really enjoyed benefitting from.”
Ludovic: “The parental leave policy is fantastic. It gave me the possibility to fully focus on my family for an extended period of time, to give my partner my full support throughout the leave and to build a deep connection with our baby which I am so grateful for.”
What does “balance” mean to you, and in what ways do you feel like you’ve achieved it?
Aigerim: “Balance for me is the ability to draw a clear line between work and personal life, which is something that wasn’t easy for me to achieve at first. When you are passionate about what you do, you tend to think about it a lot outside your working hours, and that happened to me a lot. I can’t say I have fully achieved balance yet, but I think I’m almost there. The most important thing that I think new parents need to consider is creating time for themselves – it makes a lot of difference. I also learned not to waste time during the day, be more productive at work, and find efficiencies in day-to-day life, which helps me to truly enjoy the free time I get.”
Did Uber offer any flexible work arrangements or other support to help you adjust to your new role as a parent?
Aigerim: “I didn’t ask for flexible work arrangements because I generally tend to manage to fit my work into the usual schedule. If I ever need to work from home or take an emergency day off to take care of my child when she’s sick, it’s always possible. My manager and the team have provided a lot of support for such one-off situations. I have never been expected to work on the weekends which lets me focus and enjoy the time with my family.
In terms of broader support, Uber has various Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), one of which is Parents at Uber. They organize a lot of interesting and relevant events throughout the year and provide continuous support for parents. It is always very relieving when you have a chance to connect with other people in a similar situation and share your experiences.”
Ludovic: “The 50/50 hybrid work approach works super well in my view. It gives me the possibility to work from home when things do not go according to plan with my daughter without feeling the pressure to be in person in the office.”
Do you have any best practices for separating work and family time?
Aigerim: “What works for me is to get everything done at the office and to be fully focused on it without distractions. When I’m with my family, I usually try to disable notifications and make the best out of that time in the evenings or weekends. What helped me in the past was also prepping child meals in advance, so that I don’t have to worry about those during the week.
I also think it’s important to have some time for self-care, so I try to exercise or do yoga at least a couple of times a week. Finally, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to divide responsibilities equally with the partner. I wouldn’t be able to do this without my husband’s support. We both have demanding jobs and have to closely coordinate our meeting schedules, events, and business travel. It does require planning everything quite thoroughly, but it’s definitely doable.”
Ludovic: “The one thing that works for me is being very protective of my family time. In practice, I do everything I possibly can to leave the office early enough that I get to spend a good amount of time with my daughter before her bedtime. During that time, I stay away from my phone and laptop so I can give her my undivided attention and avoid the temptation of a quick email check. The same goes for weekends. Unless there is an emergency, I will turn off notifications and stay away from my devices until Monday morning.”
“What makes Uber a particularly great place to be a working parent?
Aigerim: “It’s a truly diverse company, and not just on paper. I didn’t take it for granted that I got promoted while I was out on maternity leave. While I was assessed based on my performance year prior to the leave, and it was logical that I was included in the corresponding promotion cycle, it is not always the case at other companies, and I’m happy that my career didn’t have to stall because of the maternity leave. Last, but not least, what makes Uber a great place for me personally is the overall culture; everyone is extremely friendly and supportive. As a parent, I really appreciate that I am able to focus on the right things and enjoy my time at work to its fullest.”
Ludovic: “The parental leave and hybrid work policies are two benefits that I very much value as a parent.”
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