For more than a year, Aukeline Tolman (32) has been the general manager of the Dutch branch of Uber Eats, part of the American tech company Uber, which went public on the stock exchange last May. Which leadership lessons did Tolman learn so far and from whom?
How do you make a career with an American giant like Uber?
"The US headquarters attaches great importance to the construction of local teams. The Uber team in the Netherlands really functions almost as a start-up within a larger whole, it is ultimately very local business."
"It is important to deal well with changes and to see opportunities there. When I started at Uber (2015, ed.), Uber Eats did not even exist. Much is constantly changing, you have to be open to that and be proactive at the end. I went after all the functions within Uber myself, nobody will take you by the hand. "
Uber Eats is now in ten Dutch cities, Eindhoven will soon be added. "There is still growth in the cities where we are already. My second goal is to build a good team, we are still relatively small. We now serve fourteen hundred restaurants. How many cities will be added this year? We will continue rolling out. "
"The greatest learning moment has been personal." Aukeline Tolman
After studying economics and finance, she ended up at Google. Four years ago she made the switch to Uber, where she started as a global business analyst. "There are more tech companies, but Uber is one of the few companies that you see so tangibly on the street. It is very operational that attracted me."
Among other things, she worked in the Egyptian capital of Cairo for four months. It is one of the most complex cities in terms of mobility, she explains. "As far as business is concerned, I have learned a lot, things that I still use every day in my position. Such as dissecting and solving complex issues. The greatest learning moment has been personal. You suddenly live in a completely different culture with different working methods. a totally chaotic city, but also a special culture, with special people. "
What is the use of your work?
"As a general manager you deal with team members, stakeholders, customers: everyone is different. Because I have worked in Cairo, I am now better able to deal with all kinds of people and to get as much as possible out of that diversity instead of that you are looking for what is most similar to yourself. "
What other lessons have you learned?
"So proactivity, but also ownership: I really care about the business and Uber. I do this work because I am passionate about it. If I say something, I do it. That is how you build trust over the years and then people think of you for such a position. "
"You should not see change as something negative, but open to it." Aukeline Tolman
What else would you advise others?
"Always try new things, things that are outside of your comfort zone where you learn new topics and get to know new people. And what you shouldn't do? You should not see change as something negative, but open to it. If you are aware of that, anyone can learn that. "
Which bumps did you have to overcome in your career?
"Doing new things all the time and getting out of your comfort zone can be tricky. Because sometimes you don't know where to start and that can be challenging and stressful. These are phases you learn from but are also difficult."
"But all those periods give me the experience and knowledge that I have now. In the end I was suitable for this position because I now have an all-round skill set, you don't just build that up."
What are your leadership qualities?
"I am optimistic, also as a manager. You constantly face challenges; I can let people in the team see the positive. And I am good at building trust based on authenticity and inclusiveness."
"People can really trust me. I try to hire as many good people as possible and to give them confidence to do it myself. I give them lots of opportunities and ownership, I'm not someone who decides top-down."
Could you have thought ten years ago that you would do this?
"No, certainly not; certainly not in this role. I certainly did not have that in mind, that makes it extra fun."