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Keynote: Eugenie Teasley, Head Of Cities at Uber


Eugenie Teasley of Uber is our Keynote Speaker. Eugenie is Uber’s Head Of Cities for the South of England. She’s been a Director of The Goodall Foundation, was the founder of Spark+Mettle, contributed to the Queen’s Young Leaders programme and in 2014 she was listed in The Guardian’s 35 Under 35 Women To Watch in the UK.

Her keynote title today is What Do You Do When It All Goes Really, Really Wrong?


I’d agreed to do this talk, before I’d even taken up the post at Uber. I’ve only been at Uber for eight weeks, so I can’t speak personally to much of what went on in the company before that time. But I can tell you why I've left charities after 15 years to take up with a very ‘for profit’ company and what I’ve learnt in my first weeks at Uber.

Uber has 18,000 employees, three million drivers and 75 million riders. It’s operating in 600 cities. Last year’s gross bookings amounted to $37bn. 75% goes directly to drivers.

This is the hockey stick growth. And of course it’s not without cost. Uber’s Chief People Officer Leanne H had only been in post for a month when Susan's brave blog entry about the deepset cultural problems went public.

"Use Susan’s input to drive change. In retrospective it is clear: one very brave authentically written piece of prose created a lightening rod for change at Uber."

New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi (who'd been at Expedia for 12 years) crowdsourced new cultural norms for the company.

Tony West, General Counsel at Uber says: you need three key things to do the right thing. Transparency, Integrity and accountability.

Coming from charities, I was used to these values – but I had no idea they’d be so key at Uber. I believe in the democratising power of technology. I love, love, love that it can be a force for good. I’m seeking out ways in which it can be good, while

We should all, regardless of our backgrounds, be able to flourish, be sustainable and find meaningful work. This matters even more to me now,

So why did I leave charity-land and join a company like Uber? I felt I’d been outside of business for a long time. I wanted to see if I could work within a big company and if this would enable me to manifest these change.

Also the job title was awesome: Head Of Cities.

I genuinely believe in the new direction that the new CEO has for the company – that it wants to be a positive part of the eco-system in which Uber is operating. Uber’s reputation still precedes all the Priuses. But people join these sort of organisations to be a part of the solution. When you Google ‘Uber’ all this stuff about new norms and a change in direction is nowhere near the top of the search function. I had to dig to find it. And I was deeply impressed by speaking to people there.

The company has deliberately tried to create the changes internally without marketing them to the wider world, to get them in place first. These major internal changes have been made inside

What was the learning of making these changes? Liane Hornsey (CPO)’s six lessons:

• Listen deeply

• Be Visible (step out of the shadows)

• Involve everybody

• Emphasise inclusion

• Disagree and commit


• Be resilient

Changes will take time to seed internally and take a lot longer to be recognised externally. Liane’s goal is to make Uber the most inclusive company on the planet.

Uber’s 2018 diversity report showed modest improvements. There were gains of women in the workforce and women in tech (including ‘hard tech’ roles). Also gains for under-represented roles. Gave the option for the first time for employees to self-identify as LGBTQI+

In my first few weeks as a fairly senior woman, it has been unwaveringly positive. I think this is because I’ve come in on the upswing. Women employees are energised because they feel managers are really acknowledging ideas and suggestions from around the table. Thinking through stuff that doesn’t immediately chime with them –that’s a muscle we all need to work.

I was seeing senior white male managers taking part in even voluntary diversity work.

But the new norms, these changes, they are really important to rebuild our culture from the ground up – but they don’t help externally. London’s refusal was a major

Here in Brighton we need to rebuild trust. We’re home to extraordinary businesses full of innovative minds, yet we had our licence refused here. Hugely disappointing, not just for me, in my second week of work but for thousands of employees.

I think in this role of wanting to become a better partner.

Last month we announced a partnership with AXA to offer insurance cover at no cost to drivers. We’ve capped driver hours so that people don’t drive for too long, driving tired. Working with the Police and Bernardos to provide safeguarding training to drivers who are so often the eyes and ears of our cities.

I have to say that the things that fill me with pride are these sort of changes, making it safer and better    

Claire now shares a short video from Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO Uber, although it doesn't play.

Uber want to tackle major 21st century challenges. Dara wants “cars to be to Uber what books are to Amazon”. On Demand Urban Aviation (flying taxis!) for example.

BUT we ground all this talk of these innovations by working with authorities across the globe to make sure this future works honestly and properly for them. We want them to be used well and to be a better partner. Uber knows we can’t be the panacea to everything but we want to be make a positive contribution moving forward.

I think a company can change its direction. It’s fair to say that when Uber started, just as an app to get people from A to B, it didn’t foresee what it would become and how fast. When there is genuine buy-in from leadership, this change can be achieved.

Uber is just at the start of its journey, has turned as massive corner and I for one am very excited to be along for the ride.


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