Uber hires Harvard Business School professor to help curb its leadership problems

8 Jun

By Anmol Sachdeva, The Tech Portal

Ever since allegations of workplace sexual harassment against Uber surfaced online, the ride-hailing giant has been plagued with the dilemma of sorting out its leadership and how it acts. Earlier in March, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick declared he was looking for leadership support to assist his decisions and has today announced that they’ve found the perfect person for the said role.

According to an official blog post, Uber has hired Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei as its new SVP of leadership and strategy. She will ‘act as a partner’ to the company’s Chief Human Resources Officer Liane Hornsey and report directly to Kalanick.

As for her responsibilities, she will be focused on pulling Uber out of troubles it has recently been caught between and further assist the executive team at large, in some critical verticals across the company. These include the following:

company strategy and planning; organizational transformation and design; management and leadership; coaching, supporting and developing a world-class leadership team; and articulating and helping to architect and adapt our cultural philosophy.

Kalanick had been looking at a right hand to help him sort out the leadership and workplace culture of his $68 billion organisation. After months of scouting, Uber has finally gotten around to hiring someone noteworthy, a Harvard Business School professor, who will work on the improvement of the company’s atmosphere, which has been said to follow the typical Silicon Valley Bro culture.

Frei will dwell into the specifics of all the grave incidents that have been reported against the ride-hailing giant and try to scout for the root cause of the same. Be it the sexual harassment allegations, brought to the table by a former employee Susan Fowler or the mistreatment of driver partners by the CEO himself — which surfaced in a video online a couple months ago.

While Frei is planning to fix the workplace culture at Uber full-time, she is not moving to San Francisco for the same. She plans on commuting to Uber from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she worked at Harvard Business School and resides with her wife and children. She had already been consulting with Uber for several months already and said that she was enticed to come onboard as a full-time executive to help sort the major challenges being faced by the company.

Speaking about her appointment, the official press statement reads as under:

As one of the world’s most respected authorities on organizational transformation…she is uniquely qualified for the role—and we know we all have a lot to learn from her. Her expertise will be invaluable to the company as we take on the next chapter.

Further, Frei’s faculty page on Harvard Business School’s website suggests that she was appointed as the Senior Associate Dean for Executive Education and the UPS Foundation Professor of Service Management at the Harvard Business School. Francis Frei, the author of Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business, is well-recognized for her work on problems like gender equality. The same further goes on to mention that her research:

examines how leaders create the context for organizations and individuals to thrive. She serves as a personal advisor to senior executives embarking on cultural change and organizational transformations.

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