Q&A with General Manager SE Asia Chan Park
From Launcher, to Head of Expansion for APAC Ex-China, to SE Asia General Manager Chan discusses his 2.5 year journey at Uber.
What do you do at Uber and how long have you been with the company?
I am a General Manager looking after markets in SE Asia. I’ve been at Uber for 2.5 years.
Tell us about your life before Uber and what brought you to here?
I started my career in finance, trading derivatives. Then I moved on to a consulting firm, after which I decided I wanted to jump into the startup game.
As someone with a common finance/consulting background, I was trying to strike a balance between finding a role that I could add immediate value to, and concurrently be able to develop a new skill set.
Uber Operations really stood out to me as a perfect home for many who are looking to break into startups. You own real KPIs and the P&L, so you need to bring a lot of analytical rigor and problem solving skills. You also need to find creative ways to sell and convince riders and drivers to join the platform. Finally, you need to hustle like crazy to get stuff done. These are all skills that you learn in the corporate world, so I felt like I could add value from day one, even though I had no tech industry experience.
At the same time, you still get plenty of exposure to product innovation, PR/media, and stakeholder engagement: influencing the way we bring a smoother experience to the end user,as well as how communities around the world adopt this revolutionary technology. You can’t ever get that in finance or consulting. It was an easy No. 1 choice for me.
Your career path at Uber (lateral, upward, geographical mobility):
I first started as a launcher in the US. From day 1, the company had me go to a completely new city and execute a launch on my own. After a couple of successful projects, I raised my hand to be a part of the inaugural team in Asia. I think I was the 4th or 5th employee to land in Asia for Uber.
As a Korean-English bilingual, it was natural for me to launch the business in Seoul, my hometown. After launch, I served as the General Manager there for about a year. Another opportunity came, only a year and a half into my tenure, which was to manage the expansion team in APAC with the exception of China/India. I then came back into General Management, covering multiple markets in SE Asia.
Because the company is expanding and growing so quickly, there is plenty of room for mobility cross-functionally, as well as geographically, as long as you are performing at a high level.
Something you’ve done at Uber that you can’t do at any other company:
Let me just describe my last week:
• On Monday I met with third party stakeholders to explain the value and economic impact of Uber’s technology to Singapore.
• On Tuesday, I spent the whole day connecting with my colleagues across the region, finance to ops to product, devising our competitive strategy.
• On Wednesday, our whole office went out to car wash shops to sign up potential drivers to join the Uber platform. We call that ‘slanging’ drivers.
• On Thursday, we hosted a happy hour at the office, for prospective Uber employees, and gave a presentation on the Uber growth story to get them pumped up about potentially working here.
So yes, over the week, I was involved in business operations, recruiting, government relations, and street team slanging. I’m 100% certain that the variety of cross-functional exposure and responsibilities is unmatched by any other opportunities at any other job.
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