Eoin O’Sullivan joined Uber in 2015 as the first person at our Limerick Center of Excellence, eventually becoming the site lead overseeing the growth of the office from 20 to 430+. Below, Eoin shares his Uber journey and what makes a leader successful on a hyper-growing team: “A good leader cares about their team, provides a safe space to fail, hires good people and allows them to do their job, and has a sense of humor and no ego.”
Tell us about your Uber journey.
“I joined Uber in 2015 as the first person at our Limerick Center of Excellence (COE). A week later, our first 20 specialists began training in the COE, many of whom are still with us today.
I began my journey as a Senior Community Operations Manager and within a year became Site Lead, my role for the last 6 years. During that time I have seen our office grow from a group of just 20 people with 2 teams to now having over 430 employees in our office spread over 40 different teams—larger than I ever expected or could have believed.”
Any career highlights during your time at Uber?
“The progression of people. Seeing people who have started off as Customer Support Specialists become senior managers or move into different roles and teams is a real highlight for me.
The opportunity to mentor within the company, not only here in Limerick, but across the globe. Being able to help people with their career development and helping them on that path to finding their next move and how to succeed and get to where they want to go has really been the best part.”
What are you looking forward to this year at Uber?
“Honestly, I don’t know—and that’s a good thing. One of the great things about Uber is that no two years, or even weeks, are ever the same. I don’t know what’s ahead but what I do know is that I will learn a lot. Thinking back to when we first opened our office I had the responsibility to set up all our office space and IT. I was putting desks together and trying to hire and train people as we went from 0 to 400 people rapidly, so I don’t know what will happen next year but I know it won’t be boring.”
What qualities make a great leader?
“I have had some really great managers and some not so great managers prior to Uber, but I think you learn things from both. From the good ones you learn what to do, and from the others what not to do. There are a couple of things that make a good leader and I have learned this from stepping back and seeing the full picture.
A good leader is someone who genuinely cares about people and is present. Not just someone who dials in says my door is always open but when it comes to it is unapproachable and not present for the team when things go belly up.
The best leaders I’ve had in my time have provided a safe space to fail. People grow from their mistakes and you will only learn from them. The saying goes, show me someone who has never made a mistake and I will show you someone who has never done anything. As a leader you need to be approachable for your team to come to you with these mistakes and sometimes point out the team’s mistakes and work together to fix the problem and grow from it.
You have to hire really good people and get out of their way and let them do it. I learned this from playing team sports growing up and watching team managers. A good manager could prepare the team, do all the training, get them in the best positions, and let them just go play and during the game just make little changes.
The final one for me, and I have always said this, is that you have to have a sense of humor and you can’t have an ego. If you have an ego you will think you are right all the time and stop listening. You hired people to do a job so it’s important to listen to their opinion and have people that will follow you. Anyone can be a manager but not everyone can be a leader. if there is no one following you, you are not a leader, you are just by yourself.”
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