Athira Menon is a Senior Manager for Public Policy based in Bangalore, India, joining Uber after working in the public sector. “My role has evolved from being an individual contributor to a leader and each step of the way I have had enormously rich experiences to grow.”
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
“I live in Bangalore with my husband and dog, Hazel. I work on Uber’s Public Policy team, heading policy and government affairs for South India and Sri Lanka. I also lead our Future of Work charter for the India and South Asia region. Outside of Uber, I devote time to building communities focusing on creating safe social media and resources to aid women’s financial independence.”
You’ve been at Uber for nearly 6 years. How has your role evolved?
“The best thing about doing policy at Uber is that everyday is a new day. I joined as a Public Policy Associate for Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The first year my work was primarily about helping stakeholders understand Uber’s technology. Getting a ride at the tap of a button was an unusual concept to many.
Since my previous experience related to work in gender, my work extended to bringing more transgender individuals to the platform as part of our Uber Bhavishya program for Uber Eats.
I later stepped up to manage India’s southern region and Sri Lanka, along with our earners’ workstream, which is central to Uber’s efforts to understand and support drivers. From hosting the first driver roundtable in Kochi, Kerala to now evolving the Driver Advisory Council, I have closely been a part of a business that truly embodies building with heart.
My role has evolved from being an individual contributor to a leader and each step of the way I have had enormously rich experiences to grow.”
Why did you join Uber and why have you stayed?
“Not often do you get to work at a company whose product you use on a daily basis. I stayed because of the team, the leaders and the good work we get to do on a daily basis. I have felt that Uber provides me the opportunity to learn and excel. I am never set up to fail. The people at Uber are always willing to lend support and set us up to win at each stage.
Uber is the first corporate company I have worked at and I could not have asked for a better workplace. Having come from the social sector, I had a lot of ideas about how corporate culture would be and if I would fit in. But Uber was very welcoming and I felt like I belonged from day one.
I have had excellent managers at Uber who have been invested in mentorship. My managers were able to map my skills and experience to workstreams where I could contribute most.”
What has been one of your proudest moments?
“I’m proud of being persistent and not losing hope even when faced with difficult challenges. In Karnataka, we worked with local grassroots organizations, civil society groups and the public to reverse a ban on one of our products. Many of the things that I have closely worked on have been central to how people experience moving in the city and that has been exciting work.”
Why’s now a great time to join Uber’s Public Policy team?
“The learning curve at Uber can be steep. We jokingly say that there is never a dull day at Uber and on the Public Policy team that has always been true.”
Any advice for someone who wants to join Uber?
“Bring your whole self to work. Authenticity is appreciated and celebrated at Uber. We’re encouraged to share ideas and run with the idea if there is merit in it. It is amazing to see how much the organization trusts you to make big decisions and stands by you if things do not work as planned.”
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
“Always find a mentor and pay it forward by being a mentor. Having a mentor makes a big difference to our learning and growth curve, both at work and in our personal life. I have had incredible mentors at Uber who have taught me to lead with empathy and integrity.”
What’s might interest people about working at Uber?
“Everyone I have worked with at Uber builds with heart. We are constantly thinking about how best we can support drivers and riders. We are very conscious of how important the platform is in delivering livelihood opportunities for hundreds of thousands in India.”
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