Published: 11th September 2019
At Uber, you get to take a risk, make a mistake and learn: Uber's HR boss-lady Vishpala
Vishpala Reddy, Uber's APAC Regional HR Head, talks to Parvathi Benu about her journey in the company and why it is the perfect workplace for youngsters
"Hold on. Let me call you a cab," Rebecca Nora Bunch, the 30-year-old protagonist from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, tells her friend Heather. Now, this sounds Greek to the friend who looked to be in her mid-20s. Looking at her puzzled face, Rebecca says, "Uber. I meant an Uber." The air is cleared.
The reference to this particular scene makes Vishpala Reddy laugh out loud. The company's Asia Pacific (APAC) Regional HR Head is certainly proud of it. She says, "Uber was a disruptor in the industry and has become synonymous with travel." Prior to joining Uber, Vishpala was Vice-President and the Head of HR for American Express in India. Before that, she also worked with Hewitt Associates and Cognizant Technologies. She was a board member of the national executive board of NHRDN (National HR Development Network) in 2016-17 and has also led their Young Minds Advisory Board.
True to her company, Vishpala enjoys her occasional Uber rides, whether in India or abroad. She tells us why. "In places like San Francisco, you could be pooling a cab with a housewife, a student and an immigrant — people from completely different backgrounds. I also remember taking a cab once where the driver-partner told me that he started driving because he was retired and couldn't watch anymore TV. He chose Uber because of the sort of social interaction that the platform provides. It gives you much more than financial stability," she says, adding that Uber makes constant efforts to ensure that they have people from different socio-economic and religious backgrounds and across communities working for them.
For her, Uber's journey in India was navigated well (pun intended), thanks to the central and state governments and their policies. She also tells us that all of their driver-partners have Ayushman Bharat ecards. "We are one of the first to roll out a universal parental break irrespective of gender. Also, we provide tailormade health provisions for our employees," she says.
In May, the company, which was private, had gone public. Vishpala tells us how it has made a difference to their employees. "We recently went public and at that time, we had a lot of driver-partners ringing the bell at the New York stock exchange. We also allocated shares to everyone who was driving for more than two years," she says.
Vishpala goes on to talk about Uber's campus hiring policy. "We hire a lot from campuses. This is the perfect workplace for a youngster who are beginning their career. Youngsters of today want to be in a creative environment, where ideas are valued over hierarchy. At Uber, we certainly value ideas over hierarchy. We often encourage them to take a risk, make a mistake and learn," she says. She also talks to us about a programme where college freshmen get to work with the company and know the kind of work that they do. "We have already called for applications. We hope this turns out well," she concludes.