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A day in the life of Jo Bertram, Head of Uber UK

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Jo Bertram, 34, is the regional general manager for Uber in the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. She lives in east London

My alarm goes off…

At 7.30am. We have flexible start times so unless I have an early meeting, I stay in bed for as long as possible. I leave myself just enough time to shower and dress – usually in jeans, though I do smarten-up in a Reiss dress or suit if I’m meeting company stakeholders or our regulators, Transport for London. I bolt an espresso before walking to work at 8.45am.

I’m responsible for…

All of Uber’s business across 15 cities in six European countries. I have the final say on everything from the cities we should launch in next to the best marketing strategy and the financial targets for each area. I also deal with any legal issues which might arise in a given country. I head up a team of 150.

I got my job…

Three years ago. I was working for a management consultancy in South Africa. I’d never heard of Uber, but I researched it and it seemed dynamic and offered a good product. I was also attracted to the flexible working and the idea of using my knowledge of business strategy to grow a company that was brand new to the UK. My friends and family wondered what on earth I was doing joining this taxi company that no-one had heard of. From a team of three and 200 drivers back in 2013, we’ve now grown to over 130 people in 15 cities and have 25,000 drivers in London alone. I’m very proud of the impact we’ve had on people’s day-to-day lives. Of course we’ve faced criticism. I’ve been trolled quite viciously, but I try to focus on the big picture – I believe that we’re providing an excellent, useful service – as opposed to what some individuals might say on Twitter.

My typical day…

Is usually spent in meetings. Because the company is growing so quickly, most meetings are about planning how to structure the new recruits, working out who should report to whom and ensuring that everyone has a clearly defined role. Meetings can include staff in our offices in Europe or the US so often happen over video conference. I usually try to leave the office at 7pm, but will go through emails later in the evening before going to bed.

My most memorable work moment…

Was launching UberPool in London last December. It lets customers share rides with strangers going the same way. We’d worked on it for months – setting up marketing and logistics – so it was a relief when it finally launched. It has been a difficult sell, as carpooling wasn’t common in the UK, but it is slowly growing.

The worst part of my job…

Is 5am conference calls. Working at an international firm means I need to be available at unsociable hours. And I’m just not a morning person.

The best part of my job…

Is taking stock of the huge success that we’ve achieved in two-and-a-half years. Two million people use Uber in London alone. It’s such a leap from the 2,000 who first used the app when it launched.

After work…

I’ll see friends for dinner or go to an exhibition. I get Uber credits, so I can get free rides around the city, although if I was honest, I usually prefer to walk everywhere. I try to be in bed by midnight.

My Plan B: travel writer

A few years ago I looked into becoming a travel writer for Lonely Planet – I thought that would be super interesting. I love travelling and I’ve been to a lot of places that are very much off-the-beaten-track so I think I’d be good at getting all the details about the best places to go.


Words: Alexandra Jones
Photography: Gemma Day
Hair and make-up: Liam James Moore at S Management

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