GC Talk – Matt Wilson I Uber
We interviewed GCN-member Matt Wilson. Matt has been working as the Associate General Counsel, EMEA for Uber for nearly 4 years; he started in London and moved with his family to Amsterdam 18 months ago. He has a wide-ranging legal experience through his time at Telefonica, Arsenal Football Club, and Baker McKenzie and gets a lot of satisfaction from developing people and seeing them succeed. He is genuinely interested in the business and not afraid of giving views on business issues (coming at it from a legal perspective of course) as well as legal ones. We asked him about Uber, his passions and challenges, D&I and how he likes Amsterdam so far.
“Amsterdam has been brilliant, it’s a great place to live for our family, and I’ve been able to spend a lot more time with my three daughters since our move. Aside from that, I think the big advantage over London is that I get more exercise by cycling everywhere!”
Working at Uber
Uber’s mission is to ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion. In practical terms, for me, that means that we help to move people and things from one place to another in a more effective, efficient and safe way than has been seen before as well as providing opportunities for drivers and couriers to make money for themselves and their families. We currently do that through products like Rides that most people will be familiar with, and also UberEats, JUMP electric bikes and now Uber Freight. It’s an amazing company.
We’re in over 650 cities in 64 countries. Around 15 million trips happen via the Uber app globally every day – that’s over 10 billion trips since Uber began in 2010. We completed our billionth ride in December 2015, our two billionth ride in June 2016, our five billionth ride in May 2017 and our ten billionths in June 2018. That’s pretty incredible. One of the best parts of my job is I get to travel a lot and see the real-world impact that Uber has on communities all over the world. I went to Pakistan recently and to meet and hear from drivers was a real privilege. Whether it’s in Lahore, Lisbon or Lagos, the ability for someone to sign up with Uber and start making money for themselves is incredibly powerful.
“I’m most proud of the team we have built.”
The Uber Legal Team & Matt’s role
We’re headquartered in San Francisco but our international HQ is here in Amsterdam, on the Amstel near Amstel station. I look after the legal team in Europe, Middle East and Africa – a region of over 40 countries. We have 54 lawyers in our team, made up of 18 different nationalities, located in 14 different countries and qualified in around 16 different jurisdictions. From a gender perspective, we’re an even split of female and male team members, including at leadership level.
As the team and business grow I’m spending a lot more time on general management, leadership, and operational issues. As well as being part of the global legal leadership team, I sit on the cross-functional EMEA leadership team which takes up a lot of time. I also have a great team of leaders in EMEA and it’s important that I give them the right development opportunities and that there is the space for them all to continue to step up in terms of responsibility and scope.
I’m most proud of the team we have built. We’ve grown the team from 25 to over 50 inside 2 years and have managed to keep the quality bar high throughout that time. We don’t just look for technically excellent lawyers but also decent human beings too. That is also the most important challenge – Uber will only be able to succeed if we have the right people and if we all work effectively together. I tend to look for three key attributes – curiosity (to be proactive and keep improving), courage (to do the right thing) and collaboration (we are better when we are inclusive and work together).
“Having diversity in our legal team is vitally important.”
Diversity & Inclusion
Having diversity in our legal team is vitally important. And not just diversity of gender, but all types of diversity including background, ethnicity, and nationality. Having the diversity of thought and perspective that different types of people bring reflects the diversity of the people that we serve and, in my view, means we will make better decisions.
We do a variety of things to try and ensure our team is as diverse as possible and then we celebrate that diversity by constantly trying to ensure that the whole team has a voice. To do that, as an example, we have to be conscious of when we arrange meetings. We have lots of team members based in the Middle East and as well as the time difference, the weekend there is Friday and Saturday so we take that into account.
We’ve flattened our team structure recently by increasing span of control for managers (no 1:1 relationships, managers must have at least 3 direct reports); this has meant less layers which brings everyone closer to decision making. We also ensure that everyone in the team is empowered by having specific responsibilities, whether that is for a business area, region or country.
When it comes to recruiting we don’t move forward with roles until we have a diverse pool of candidates and, to try and reduce unconscious bias, we also make sure our interview panels are diverse. Another inclusion initiative we have is called T-shaped experience – that means that even though team members may join us with a deep specialism like employment law, we actively encourage people to try work outside of those specialisms and get broader experience. I believe that it is that broader experience that will mean that the most number of career opportunities will be open to our team members, hopefully at Uber but, if not, outside Uber. I regard that as very much part of my responsibility, and we also run exchange programmes so that lawyers can spend a few months in a different Uber office and team somewhere in the world. Lastly, I ensure that I have dedicated 1:1 time with everyone in our team at least once a quarter to make sure I’m checking in personally and so they get a chance to talk about anything they would like. There is always more to do.”