Navigating to the Technical Program Management and Learning Team

Navigating to the Technical Program Management and Learning Team
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Spread across 4 continents, the Technical Strategy, Program Management, and Learning team is composed of Technical Program Managers (TPMs), Technical Writers, Technical Strategists, and Technical Training Program Managers.

Uber TPMs play a critical role in executing high-impact, company-wide initiatives and continuously improving processes to increase the effectiveness of our Product and Engineering organizations. On the Learning side, Program Managers and Technical Writers increase engineer impact and productivity by understanding pain points and providing learning solutions for technical and leadership skills. 

As one of Uber’s most global and diverse engineering teams, we support hundreds of cross-functional teams around the globe who serve over 90 million customers in 63 countries. By embracing and celebrating differences (one of Uber’s cultural norms) we go out of our way to seek out different backgrounds and opinions, all with the common belief that together we build

Read on to meet 4 of our team members who are excited to share more about what they do and how they got here. 

 

Vasanta Illindala

My journey at Uber has been an exciting one. I started at Uber 2 years ago as the first member of the Hyderabad TPM team that supports Fintech, Risk, Payments, Compliance, and Delivery engineering teams. When I onboarded, my colleagues advised me that a year at Uber can feel like many more, compared to other tech companies. I had to experience it to believe it, and what a ride it’s been so far! There has not been a single day where I did not learn something new. On a daily basis I get to drive and execute some of the most exciting cross-team programs with first-class engineering teams.

Here’s my story of how I got here. Born and raised in Hyderabad, I completed my engineering degree at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad and moved to the United States to pursue higher studies. I completed my master’s degree in computer science at Kansas State University, where my favorite courses were in networking. So naturally, I started my journey at Nortel Networks as a Test Automation Engineer in quality engineering after completing my degree. It was really fun and exciting to test all the Open Systems Interconnection protocols that I learned back in grad school on Nortel’s backbone routers. After traversing through Nortel, Symantec, Juniper, and Citrix (the four big networking giants) over 10 eventful years, I moved back to India with my family to pursue work and reconnect with my extended family back in Hyderabad. 

Upon moving back, I spent 8 years at a fast paced startup company, MobileIron, where I got a chance to build and grow a QA team. After building a successful QA team, I felt it was time to think outside of QA and experience the entire lifecycle of software development. 

Being a people person and technically inclined, I found a match at Uber in Technical Program Management. Coming from 18 years of quality engineering to an organization that does not have a separate QA team, the first week felt like I was riding in a car with no breaks! After seeing the platform teams in action, with developers handling their quality engineering aspects really well with testing, alerting, and monitoring integrations, my former QA self was assured and my TPM journey blossomed. As the Hyderabad Engineering organization grew from 90 to 300 members in just over 2 years, our TPM team evolved into a group of 7 competent TPMs driving some of the largest and most complex cross-functional global programs in the Payments, Compliance, Risk, Fintech, and Delivery areas, enabling the engineering teams to scale. We are an integral part of Hyderabad and Uber’s success story.

When I think about Uber’s culture, I have personally never seen a company support its Diversity and Inclusion principles as strongly as Uber. My personal favorite of all the Inclusion initiatives is the Ally4Her program, where individuals take a pledge to consciously stay aware and commit time to shedding unconscious biases. Having lived abroad for so many years, experiencing many cultures and people, the value of diversity and inclusion takes on a more significant meaning for me as Uber’s global presence continues to expand. If you also appreciate a globally inclusive culture, I’d love to work with you!

 

 

Susan Hill 

Hi, I’m Susan. I’m a Technical Program Manager working on Privacy. It’s a job I love for various reasons, such as the subject matter (Privacy!), the people, and the challenges. But, as happy as I am in my current position, it wasn’t really a planned destination. Everyone has their story of how they got into tech, some pretty direct, and some, like mine, more meandering. Here’s my story.

Even though I took my first programming class in the eighth grade, I was determined to become an attorney. I signed up as pre-law as an undergrad and ended up studying criminology in preparation. I had no desire to go into the tech industry. However, my Dad worked in IT, so everyone around me just assumed that I knew everything about computers like it was an inherited trait. So to live up to everyone’s expectations, when someone asked me a tech-related question, I found the answer, which reinforced the idea that I did know everything about computers. I was, however, impressed with the people who wrote computer manuals, thinking that wow, they really do know all about using computers and writing software.

After working at a law firm, I decided not to pursue law school after all, and accidentally ended up working at Sun Microsystems. The Technical Publication team needed some help and my manager agreed to loan me out. It was then that I discovered the process by which computer manuals were written, and it occurred to me that I could do this. Fast forward a few years, and I was working at Microsoft as a Programmer Writer. This pulled together the things I enjoyed doing: writing, teaching, and programming. I tried on a few other roles, but kept returning to technical writing.

After a few years of contracting, and essentially working alone, I decided that I wanted to work on a team again, and began looking at job sites for an interesting Technical Writer position. I found one, and couldn’t believe that “Uber has technical writers”! So, I just had to apply. I ended up working with the best people I could ask for. The Technical Writing team is very supportive and so generous in sharing their ideas. 

After a few years of being a happy Technical Writer, a Privacy Technical Program Management position opened up. I have a sort of inescapable affinity for privacy, and have worked on various privacy and security teams throughout my tech career. I was really impressed by the management at Uber in how completely supportive they were of me making a role change. And I’m thrilled to be solving new problems and taking on new challenges.

The moral of my story? You don’t need an engineering degree to be successful in tech. Though it does help to be curious, enjoy learning new things (sometimes at light speed), and follow your passions.

 

 

Burger Ebersohn

My Uber ride started 13 years ago. Even though e-commerce in the restaurant industry was only in its infancy at the time, our South African founded startup located in Texas created online ordering solutions for American and British merchants integrating with their in-store technology. Little did we know that one day Uber Eats would need to leverage many of the same integrations.

When the startup was acquired in 2018 by Uber, I brought along my 10 years of industry experience, adding to Uber’s Technical Program Management (TPM) team. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that a company like this would employ a self-taught paperless nerd like me! But they saw value that I could add to the Eats business and offered me an opportunity to work alongside the most incredible Engineering, Product, and Operations organizations in the industry.

After leaving Texas I was welcomed at Uber’s New York office, where “Engucation” prepared me (ha!) for the engineering world I was about to enter. I realized quickly that I was surrounded by the very best, and if I wanted to succeed here I had to learn fast. Lucky for me, I was now part of the TPM team where support is abundant and learnings are proactively shared by our great leaders and peers.

Immediately we started hiring and training teams around the globe to drive a priority “merchant integration” initiative for Uber Eats, and I was located centrally at Uber’s Amsterdam office. As a TPM, I was honored to interview and select candidates that I still have the pleasure of working with today. I always felt I could do my best because everyone was doing their part, plus more. This was proven by the working group established around a point of sale integration that allowed us to scale globally from a single McDonald’s integration to hundreds that would support thousands of famous brands, seemingly overnight.

In just 2 years, we completed over 300 integrations spanning 2,500 brands across the globe, from delivering your favorite coffee in the morning to a burger at lunch or groceries in the evening. Whether you’re focusing on scoping out the engineering work, negotiating logistics with operations teams for rollout, or building technical support programs behind the scenes, the impact you make as an Uber TPM is tangible and measurable, every single day. And this is why I love what I do.

My next stop is Toronto, where you’ll find me working on more Merchant Integration initiatives. Who knew a boy from the East Rand of Johannesburg in South Africa would end up navigating the world in an Uber?

 

Melissa Barr

Hi all! I joined Uber in 2018 as a summer intern on the Technical Writing team. After finishing my last year at Oregon State University, I returned as a full time Technical Writer on the Engineering Enablement team. We partner with TPMs, and engage cross-functionally to help engineering teams write, organize, and build technical content that’s leveraged across Uber.

Early on, I became interested in technology and software because of a passion for challenging myself. I started off as a Marketing major at OSU, where I excelled, but soon discovered I performed my best when faced with a challenge. I requested to switch to Computer Science, despite the College of Engineering advising against it. I had no experience coding, and skipped the engineering pre-requisite courses (a bad idea in hindsight). Ground zero would be an understatement. From my first C++ course, I worked harder than ever and struggled to catch up to my classmates, but there was something exciting about programming that I couldn’t give up. Did I fit in? Absolutely not. But I was determined to prove to myself, classmates, and advisor that I could excel as an outsider in the engineering world, and a year later was hired to teach that same first course. Ultimately, I pursued both tracks and graduated with two bachelor’s degrees, one in marketing and the other in computer science. By graduation, I had taught that first course 6 times, and each time I shared my favorite quote with those who doubted their ability to complete it: “It always feels impossible until it’s done” Nelson Mandela.

At Uber, I’ve been incredibly thankful for the internship opportunity because I learned more during those 3 months than I could have imagined. Everything was hands-on, and my team was supportive in exposing me to diverse projects and leaders across the company. I was given a fantastic mentor, but in reality the entire team treated me as a mentee and cared about my development. 

As a full time employee now, I work primarily with Uber AI’s Machine Learning team and own the documentation strategy. However, I also get to work on specific feature documentation, which helps developers understand our APIs and platform. I craved a career where I could make an impact and continue to learn. At Uber, the projects are truly making a difference to individuals around the world. It’s an experience you won’t find anywhere else, and I’m very excited to be a part of it.

 

Join Us! 

If these journeys inspire you or you’d like to join us in these impactful efforts, consider applying for a role on our Technical Program Management and Learning team.

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