Meet Nikki, our game-changing Global Head of Marketing at Uber Eats. She is leading efforts to drive brand awareness, affinity, and loyalty for the fastest growing arm of Uber’s business. As a Division I volleyball player in college, Nikki discusses what she’s learned about the power of a team and how she’s applied it to her career.
Q: What principles of teamwork did you learn as an athlete that you’ve been able to apply to your career?
A: Great teams are comprised of great individual contributors that each bring a unique skill or perspective to the team, making the collective stronger. Great teams have strong leaders (coaches and captains) who ensure these team members are working together towards a common goal through the execution of a plan – while understanding and embracing the differences they bring to the table. Tapping into these differences–whether it’s skills, motivation, or communication styles, for example–in a way that enables each team member, and ultimately the team, to perform at their best, was one of the most effective lessons I learned as an athlete and as a coach. All of that is directly applicable to how I aim to build and lead successful teams in the workplace.
Q: What’s a time–personally, professionally or athletically–when you needed to lean on your team to help you move forward, accomplish a goal, or simply get you back on your feet?
A: As an athlete, I had the good fortune of developing faster by being surrounded by teammates who were more skilled or more strategic than I was. However, great players bring teammates along with them. After college and volleyball I transitioned to running. I fell in with a group of runners that were faster than me and had been running for longer. While it was mildly intimidating at first, I began to improve as a runner and get faster more quickly. The best teammates make you better through encouragement and accountability. Professionally, I have sought out opportunities that stretch my capabilities and also put me in close proximity to strong leaders and highly-capable teams.
Q: How did that experience shape what being a team member meant for you?
A: I’ve come to recognize that teammates need different things from you at different times. Sometimes they need support, encouragement and a vote of confidence; other times they need direct feedback and to know what you expect of them and what you believe they are capable of. I’ve found Uber to be a company that welcomes and fosters this type of culture.
Q: What advice would you give others who are trying to build a ‘powerful’ team for themselves or their organization?
A: Declare your goal and then build the team you need to achieve it. Seek to really understand the team and skills you have and identify the team and skills you need. You need the right individuals in the right positions at the right time, working together, to win. This is especially true for Uber Eats Marketing where we are building out a new function and way of working across global, mega-regional and sub-regional teams.
Q: What’s the most fun you ever had–at an event, game, or outing–on any of your teams?
A: This is such a hard question – I’ve had so many, and fun can be defined in so many ways. It is always fun to win; it’s also fun to lose (although not in the moment) and then come back next time and win. It was fun to compete at a level where I had access to top trainers, coaches, and facilities, but it was probably the most fun to travel the world and spend every minute, mile, and meal with my teammates, who became my family. I aspire to build this type of close-knit team culture with my own team here at Uber.