Amanda Gilmore has moved across the world for her personal life and career, working in established corporates to early-stage start-ups. She is now the Head of Driver, Australia & New Zealand where she gets the best of both worlds – a start-up feel with lots of innovation, and the backing and resources of an established multinational.
We talked about what led her to Uber, moving across the globe, and her tips for ambitious women.
Career path to Uber
Amanda studied Finance and International Business at Villanova University in the USA (she’s American) and started her career in Management Consulting at PwC. She then made a big shift to the tech world joining Percolate, a marketing software startup in NYC where she helped establish their Consulting Services division.
She then moved to New Zealand for personal reasons, and there, “I found this amazing career opportunity that I never would have expected. Uber delivered 100% [on combining start up grittiness with large corporate resourcing]. I think it was amplified being in NZ, which is still a grass-roots establishment in the large Uber eco system.”
She joined 18 months after Uber launched in NZ, and it wasn’t even regulated yet.
I really enjoyed it. There was a small team of ten or 15. We had to build the business and explain what ride share meant for NZ and the economy.
After a few years in NZ, focusing on pushing for government regulation of the ride-share industry, Amanda moved to the Sydney headquarters where she is now Head of Driver.
“Pretty much anything that’s related to drivers falls into my remit, from the time they sign up to the time they stop driving with Uber.”
She’s proud of what she’s achieved so far with driver relationships.
“One thing we’ve focused on is building transparency and trust with drivers. It’s important to me from a human perspective. The drivers are real people with unique, interesting stories. When you remember that, you want to support them in having the best experience.”
Moving across the world
“Moving to New Zealand was a huge change in lifestyle and ways of working. But, being part of a multinational company with American roots while working in New Zealand was a happy middle ground.”
To someone looking at moving across the world for personal reasons or for work, Amanda shares, “I would definitely say do it, 100%. It has truly been the most defining thing for me on a personal and professional level. The people I’ve met, the ways of working, exposure to different types of thinking. I can’t imagine I would have ever got that if I’d stayed in New York. It’s been such an eye opener.”
Advice for ambitious women
As a driven, focused, career-woman, Amanda had plenty to share when discussing career management.
“You’re never going to know exactly how things will play out, but the best thing you can do is be open to opportunity. Quickly pivoting and embracing those opportunities is the best thing you can do.”
Accept the ebbs and flows
Even for ambitious people, it’s a weight off your shoulders to recognise that careers and opportunities go in waves. Sometimes you’re going to have everything you want and sometimes things might stagnate a bit.
When things aren’t moving as quickly in her career, Amanda asks herself, “What other areas of my life can I move into? I welcome that space or time. Maybe not being crazy busy at work is a good thing because I can invest in personal relationships or hobbies. I also put my hand up for new opportunities or projects I can do to spice things up a bit.”
Seek diverse experiences
“Diversity of experience has helped me build my confidence over time. Being really in tune with when you’ve exhausted the learning opportunities available in a job, company or position. When you feel like you’ve stalled, pivot and find something new.”
Be deliberate about your choices
“No company or position is going to be able to tick every single box. Know that in this position, or at this time I’m optimising for a particular thing. I’m building a great network, or I’m being exposed to a start up, or I love the product.”
“Bouncing around and thinking ‘right now I’m optimising this’ keeps you interested and filling up your tool box.”
“Say yes even when it makes you feel really uncomfortable. One of the things I got exposed to in NZ was media and external speaking opportunities. I was so scared, and without my boss pushing me and saying I could do it I never would have.”
“You have to actively push yourself out of your comfort zone and find people who will push and support you.”
“I like not knowing what’s going to happen. The best thing I can do is just commit to taking advantage of the opportunities that get presented and roll with the punches. It’s freeing once you realise that you don’t actually have control. Scary, but freeing.”
Working with autonomy
Uber has a culture of balance, and Amanda has a lot of autonomy and personal responsibility.
“At Uber there is this incredible ownership that everyone who works there feels. We own the decisions that are made for this local business. That level of ownership and autonomy compels you to work hard. The decisions I’m making behind my desk play out in real life for customers, riders and drivers. It creates a culture of working hard, hustling and moving quickly. But then there’s this really nice offset where we still embody that flexibility and balance.”
“The autonomy and ownership that Uber provides its employees has pushed me outside of my comfort zone and ultimately enabled me to grow, thrive, and succeed.”
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