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This Uber GM’s advice for aspiring female leaders

January 23 / Global

As a General Manager of Uber Eats in Northern, Central & Eastern Europe, Aukeline Tolman is on the forefront of bringing on demand deliciousness (and more) to people across the region. As she builds the team and grows our business, she relies on three pieces of advice: just do it, get back on your feet, and be yourself. 

Tell us about yourself.

“I was born and raised in the Netherlands in a small farming town of just 2,000 people. Growing up in such a rural area, I’ve always loved nature, camping, and hiking, but am nowadays also a big fan of festivals and concerts. The core values I live by are open mindedness, freedom, challenge, calmness, and cooperation. I’m also a new mom and had my first child, Jack, 6 months ago.”

Tell us about your career journey at Uber.

“I joined Uber as a Business Analyst 7 years ago after spending 4 years at Google. Why I joined? Uber is extremely tangible and visible in the cities we live in, with endless opportunities, and is decentralized with lots of local ownership. 

I spent the first 8 years of my career mostly as an individual contributor in analytics and strategy focusing on developing core competencies and knowledge on various topics. This enabled me to make a jump to a broad leadership position as the General Manager of Uber Eats in the Netherlands in 2018 and now expanded to Northern, Eastern, and Central Europe. Becoming a GM was a big learning moment for me because I transitioned from advising to being fully accountable for results and team performance.

Throughout my career, I’ve remained focused on learning and having fun. I’ve never chased promotions, and found that they typically follow naturally. Sometimes it has taken me 4 years to get to the next level, other times 1 year, but looking at it long term, title has never really mattered to me.”

Can you tell us about a project you worked on that had a big impact and/or one of your proudest moments?

“A highlight of my career was a 4-month assignment in Cairo to work with the local Rides team on the business during an economic downturn. Our Rides product has a huge impact on people’s lives in the country, allowing people to get around safely and more easily. I’m proud to have had a tiny contribution to that. 

I’ve also developed the global competency framework for the Operations organization. One of the most complex projects I worked on in my career because I had to source input from and create alignment between leaders in the organization across regions, verticals, business lines. These competencies are still used around the globe for development conversations and I am proud to contribute to the growth of our employees. 

Finally, I am super proud of my Uber Eats Netherlands team during the COVID-19 lockdowns. They worked really hard to deliver the best experience to our partners and customers in this period while improving our position in the market.”

What are some of the most interesting challenges you solve and how do you stay motivated? 

“Working at Uber means being confronted with endless complex and fun challenges and problems to solve every day. Early on in my career I was excited to tackle challenges and solve problems through data and analytics. This has evolved and I am now most excited about challenges that need cross-functional stakeholder involvement and people management.”

Any advice for aspiring women leaders?

Be yourself. That doesn’t mean you never adjust or flex your style based on a situation or audience, but I always stay true to my values. I believe this also gives people around me, especially the people on my team, the feeling they can be their authentic selves too. 

Just do it. When I start a challenge, I sometimes feel overwhelmed and hesitant to start. But the best approach is to just go and trust that you’ll do just fine. 

Get back on your feet. Always look back and learn from past situations or mistakes, but don’t overthink or overanalyze, especially when it comes to what other people think about it/you get back on your feet, and focus on the progress you’re making.”  

What’s your go-to Uber Eats order after a long week? 

“I am a big fan of anything that has carbs and cheese. My guilty pleasure is a bun with a fried cheese soufflé and peanut sauce with Fristi (a pink colored yogurt drink).”  

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