Uber exec Rachel Holt admits: 'Everything hasn't happened in the right way in the past'

UberRachel Holt
  • One of Uber’s top executives, privy to the company’s inner workings for years, has admitted that ‘everything hasn’t happened in the right way in the past.’
  • The Uber vice president also said Uber’s drawn out-search for a new CEO had an unexpected benefit: it forced the top managers to work more closely together.

Uber vice president Rachel Holt told CNBC on Friday that new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi differs from his predecessor, Travis Kalanick, in that he has “a humble approach.”

“I think we’ve seen, even in just the last three months, is a very humble approach and one that recognises that everything hasn’t happened in the right way in the past,” she said.

That theme – “everything hasn’t happened in the right way in the past” – is an interesting confession for Holt. She runs the US and Canadian regions for Uber and has been a manager with the company since 2011, hired under Kalanick. In other words, she’s been a position to have witnessed how the company operated first-hand.

There’s no question that Uber has embroiled itself in a never-ending list of shocking scandals from its methods to thwart regulators, to the accusations of sexual harassment leveled at it by its former engineer Susan Fowler, to bombshell allegations about a unit dedicated to hacking and stealing trade secrets. The list goes on.

At this point, no one knows if there will be more scandals to come. But Holt said something else interesting in the interview: She indicated Uber may genuinely be getting its act together in a process that began even before Khosrowshahi took the job.

In the months after Kalanick left as CEO (he remains on the board), while Uber searched for a new CEO, it was run by a 15-person leadership team of which Holt was a member. During that time, she said the leadership team got a chance to learn about all the moving parts of Uber. And, despite a culture that valued “toe-stepping,” they learned to work together.

“Before, people had been working on their own projects and working much more in silos. Forcing 15 people to come together, that really paved the way to have someone new come in and to come in to a really productive team,” she said.

Last month, Khosrowshahi officially got rid of the “toe-stepping” core value at Uber, saying it was a practice that encouraged employees to behave like jerks.

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