At only 26, Dip Patel is Uber’s Country Manager. He started his Uber journey as the company’s first Marketing Manager for East Africa, a role that saw him contribute to Uber’s launch and growth in the region.
He then became an Operations and Logistics Manager, where he launched state-of-the-art Greenlight Hubs (Uber support centres that focus on driver growth and engagement) across East Africa.
Dip Patel holds a Master of Science degree in Accounting, Organisations and Institutions from LSE in London.
He revealed the 9 principles it takes to be successful in business.
1. Give people chances
Being at Uber has strengthened my belief that anyone can do anything. You do not have to have a particular educational background or a particular type of experience to be doing something right.
As long as you are passionate about what you are doing and you want to do it well, you are invested in the mission of whatever it is you are trying to accomplish, you will be able to figure out a way to get it done. It has renewed my faith in being able to learn, adapt and to get the job done, no matter what the job is.
I joined Uber as an independent contributor. I did not have a team to manage. It was just me getting my job done without having to worry about managing other people. So my style was a bit misinformed. I was a micromanager and quite a control freak. I was very prescriptive about how things are done and how the output should look.
That has since changed. I realised that it was not the best way to do it and it was not working very well. I tried different approaches and the way I manage now is with much more care, out of a realisation that the people I am working with and managing are not too different from me.
The people that I work with are very intrinsically motivated, very passionate about the brand, are great at what they do. They do not need to be micromanaged. They are here because they want to be here and they want to contribute, so all they need is to share in the vision of what we are doing and contribute to the strategy of where we want to go.
3. Know your people
Even while giving people the freedom to do what they want, I also have to acknowledge that you still need to be present. There are people that need to be left alone because that is the atmosphere that they thrive in. They are intrinsically motivated, see the big picture and head towards it, but as we grow and bring more people on, we also see that there are people that need more coaching and find a lot of security in having more direction.
So it is important to identify how someone wants to be managed, and that someone who needs coaching and direction has that provided until they get to a point where they feel that they can be left alone. They may not get there but if they do, embrace it and let it happen.
4. Competition is everywhere, be the best choice
Don’t focus on your competition, focus on making your product and service offering the best that it can be. We don’t mind having other apps coming up because Uber brought choice, so it is difficult for us to not be happy about consumers, whether riders or drivers, having more choices.
In that environment of people having choices, the best way to succeed is by make sure that you are the best choice, adding the most value that you can.
5. Face your challenges head on
Sometime back, our cars were being burned and people were clearly not happy about the presence of Uber. A lot of that was from the misunderstanding around how the technology works and how open it was, so people felt excluded and felt that the choice that was coming into the market was taking something away from them. So we decided to engage a lot more with the public explaining how it worked and the value it could bring to their business.
6. Train employees to be adaptable to change
Change is our only constant at Uber. Every six months, Uber turns into a whole new business in terms of our teams growing rapidly, focus shifting to different areas, structures getting tightened, launching new products, earlier on having no marketing and now
The people on our teams that thrive are those that expect change and are not worried about it. We try to have that understanding, expectation, and culture from the get-go. So when you come into the business you come in expecting that things will change quickly and be the person who can adapt quickly and keep up with the pace at which we move.
7. Do not get comfortable
Businesses start stagnating when people get comfortable. That is when you stop innovating and stop growing. At first, we weren’t doing any marketing because we realized that the choice that our technology brought to the market and how easily it helped people move from one place to the other made them embrace it readily and there was a lot of organic demand for that.
We could have gotten comfortable with that and said, ‘Why ever spend any money on marketing? We are growing without spending any money.” Instead, we did some marketing and that accelerated our growth.
8. You will make mistakes and that is OK
I make a lot of mistakes, and I make them on a weekly basis. One of the things that I initially did when I was new at Uber was that I felt like I had something to prove or felt that I could not make mistakes.
Trying to look like I do not make mistakes and not accepting that I can make mistakes and learn from them was a bad thing. I am now much more comfortable with making them and learning from them and how the business can benefit in future from what I have learnt.
9. Harness the power of technology and data
Every business needs to have a data bank. Embracing technology and big data are to succeed. At Uber, we really use data well. That does not mean that we have a team sitting somewhere crunching spreadsheets and numbers all the time, it just means that we take a very data-driven approach to everything.
Our support center collects both qualitative and quantitative data to improve the support experience and to predict things before they happen. The technology is simple. It is just about collecting as much information as we can.
Who came to see us, at what time of the day, why they came, what issues they had, how long have they been driving with us, was their issue resolved, how long they spend with the expert. It is simple data that we have accumulated over three years, but we draw a lot of insight from it. We are able to do predictions.