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Building new businesses and career paths at Uber

4 de abril de 2022 / Global

“I’ve grown up at Uber, and I’ve watched Uber grow up in my time here too. It has truly been like a second university for me, where I’ve felt free to explore various functions, teams, products, and experiences,” shares Alex Luzi, reflecting on the past 6+ years at Uber. Since joining, Alex has always worked on the cutting edge, focusing on new bets to build our next billion-dollar business. Today, she’s the Lead Research Strategist for Rider, Driver, and Uber Eats working to build the next version of our platform.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

“People are often surprised by this, but I originally went to undergrad to study Fine Arts. When I eventually decided not to continue to pursue painting as a profession, I vowed to bring creativity into everything I did going forward. From there, I dabbled in market research consulting, field marketing, business development, and marketing strategy until I eventually landed in User Experience Research. My current role as a Lead Research Strategist allows me to bring together this breadth of experiences: creativity, strategy, insights, and innovation. 

Outside of work, you can find me snowboarding, cycling, triathlon training, studying for business school, planning my wedding, or exploring new places near and far.”

You’ve been at Uber for 6.5 years. Tell us about your career journey.

“I’ve grown up at Uber, and I’ve watched Uber grow up in my time here too. It has truly been like a second university for me, where I’ve felt free to explore various functions, teams, products, and experiences. 

When I started in 2015, I joined as a local Marketing Manager for Charlotte, North Carolina (based out of Washington, DC). This experience allowed me to wear so many hats, be scrappy, and do literally whatever it took to get this amazing product out to the world. My defining moment of this time was when I ideated “UberPerks”, Uber’s first loyalty program for college students. When this excelled in my region, I was promoted to the Regional Marketing team to scale a version of this nationally. 

During this next chapter, I worked on a number of national marketing strategy projects. From scaling our student program into “Campus Pass”, subscriptions for college students, to being the first Marketing Manager for “UberBike” (now called JUMP). However, in 2017 I felt a bit burnt out by this and was starting to feel like Marketing was not the right fit for me. My first Uber manager and mentor helped me realize that while Marketing gave me creative space, I really craved to be closer to product development. 

I met the former fearless leader and Director of User Research (UXR) through the Women at Uber mentorship program. I shared how I felt like something was missing in my career, and she said, ‘you should check out the UXR team…it sounds like it’s a perfect blend of what you’re looking for.’ As always, she was right. It was soon after that I joined the UXR team, where I’ve been ever since. I started in Uber’s newly formed Incubator overseeing Uber Transit, Bikes, and Scooters. I then moved to our Incubator at Large and New Verticals spaces. Now, I’m the Lead Research Strategist looking across all user-facing areas of Uber.

I am so deeply thankful for Uber’s internal mobility, and willingness to let its employees discover new passions. If not for this, I may have left in between one of these chapters in search of what I was missing, but I am so happy I stayed on for the ride.” 

Since you joined Uber, you’ve always focused on our new bets. What’s it like working on the cutting edge?

“I love white space, ambiguity, and answering big, foundational questions about new products to influence strategy. Some of the most rewarding moments of my career have been helping to shape some of Uber’s new bets from 0 to 1.

However, it’s not always glamorous. What we’re doing is akin to “intrapreneurship,” trying to innovate and build our next billion-dollar business after Rides and Delivery. There are many failures, false starts, roadblocks, challenges, and so much to unlock.

One takeaway I’ve noticed is that new bets at Uber are more alike than they are different. They each have the challenge of developing awareness to our audiences. They each have to think about what gives Uber the permission to play in this space. They each have to coexist in harmony with our core products. And they all have to share some functional commonalities to make the individual experiences feel like Uber. 

These experiences have taught me so much professionally. They have also enabled Uber to still feel like a scrappy startup inside a big company, which energizes me personally.” 

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen from working at Uber since you started?

“Work. Life. Balance. I hear some non-Uberers say ‘Oh you work at Uber, those hours must be grueling!’ to which I say, ‘Hmm not really!? At least, not anymore.’ 

Yes, in the earlier days, we were accustomed to eat-sleep-breathing Uber. I thought nothing of it; I genuinely loved it and was happy to put in the time. It wasn’t until I moved from DC on a local team to San Francisco on the Tech team (also conveniently around the time when our new CEO joined) that this started to shift. I noticed coworkers left at a reasonable hour. People were much more flexible with timelines and expectations. We were encouraged to work smarter, not harder. It was a breath of fresh air I didn’t know that I desperately needed.

Now, especially since the pandemic, the concept of ‘balance’ at Uber has done a complete 180 since those early days. To illustrate: I’m getting my MBA part-time at Berkeley Haas. This requires me to leave early two days a week and to be ruthless about managing my time (e.g., logging off promptly in the evenings to do schoolwork, joining fewer meetings to get my work done, etc.). My team could not be more supportive of this. In fact, they see these new external skills as an asset to our team.

Uber has truly evolved into one of the most flexible, balanced, and adaptive workplaces I could have ever imagined.”

What are the most interesting challenges you need to solve in your current role?

“In my current role as Lead Research Strategist, I look across Rider, Driver, and Uber Eats to find commonalities that affect us across the board. We have so many amazing teams thinking deeply about specific problem spaces, but there are few on the Design/Product side tasked with looking across the big picture. I try to zoom out and take a step back and think about what areas we should get ahead of. 

While I love this big-picture role, the challenge is that it’s very ambiguous. No one is telling me what to do or where to look. It’s up to me to find the spaces to dig into, and that requires a very different skill from executing upon a known goal.”

Why is now a great time to join Uber’s Design team?

I’d say three things:

  • Mission: Uber has a central role in contributing to life after the pandemic. We are working to change the way that people around the world go places and get things, and Design has a central role in shaping that.
  • Impact: Some of Uber’s top strategic initiatives – delivering a best-in-class experience, creating a valuable platform for earners, connecting our product offerings in a meaningful way – will require deep Design involvement. 
  • Team: Our team is growing rapidly, and we’re building a culture where Product Designers, Researchers, and Content Designers love coming to work every day.

If you’re interested in any open roles in Design, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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