There is hope for Uber, despite ongoing challenges
With recent news that Uber has now been banned in Italy, the company’s ongoing challenges seem to be mounting. It has also been announced that Uber’s Head of Communications and Policy Rachel Whetstone has also handed in her resignation after joining the company in 2015, having previously worked at Google. Whetstone follows Uber President Jeff Jones and Vice President of Product and Growth Ed Baker, who have also recently left the company.
Regarding her departure, Whetstone stated to Recode: “I am incredibly proud of the team that we’ve built – and that just as when I left Google, a strong and brilliant woman will be taking my place. I joined Uber because I love the product – and that love is as strong today as it was when I booked my very first ride six years ago.”
Uber are increasingly attempting to salvage their reputation against the sexual harassment claims, the released video of CEO Travis Kalanick’s poor leadership skills, amongst the fluctuating #deleteuber campaign, all of which are currently creating a significant shift and provided competitors, such as Lyft, with a foot in the door and gain further support, with $600 million in new funding, according to Tech Crunch.
Rome’s recent ruling to ban Uber from Italy, with 10 days’ notice to remove its operations within the country only adds to the company’s current woes, where they will no longer provide services in the country due to alleged unfairness against the traditional taxi industry amidst protests from the Italy’s taxi unions. The UK and the US taxi industries have also previously released similar complaints, and could set a precedent for further concerns for Uber going forward.
Needless to say, Uber will be appealing this decision, and currently faces a 10,000 euro fine per day if the company does not comply with the order. Uber have stated that they are “shocked by the Italian court’s decision” and “thousands of professional, licensed drivers use the Uber app to make money and provide reliable transportation at the push of a button for Italians.”
The company has recently kickstarted its operations in Taiwan after altering its business model. Uber’s operations in the state previously ground to a halt after undergoing several conflicts with Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation, and was dealt around $30 million in penalties which outlawed unlicensed taxi vehicles in the region, according to CNET, so there is hope for Uber to reinstate their operations in Italy.
Despite ongoing conflicts, it has not fazed Uber’s employment figures in areas such as Canada, where the Calgary Sun has reported that the company now has over 70,000 rides and 1,500 drives in the city, where the company is seeing significant economic growth and emerging markets worldwide.
Uber is also taking advantage of the current political climate and is set to deliver free rides in Istanbul, Turkey on the day of the country’s long awaited referendum. The move is a smart one, in which the company will make significant financial gains amongst the uncertainty within the current political sphere, with the shock Brexit vote, the inauguration of President Trump and rise of populism around the world.
Nonetheless, Uber is continuing to drive growth by diversifying their services into other avenues. UberEATS launched last year in the US and London, and will now launch its services to other areas in the UK, providing increased competition for competitors such as JustEat and Deliveroo, with service from up to 100 restaurants in the pipeline. Similar to Domino’s Pizza, consumers can see their food being prepared and on route to its destination, with an approximate delivery time of 30 minutes via an app.
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Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.