Q&A: How this Swedish super talent was recruited by Uber in her early twenties
Babba Canales is the woman behind Uber’s hugely successful launch in Stockholm. Today she’s filling the role of marketing manager at the rideshare giant’s New York office.
According to Forbes, she’s one of the world’s most talented people. Before she became renowned for her digital marketing skills, she studied international marketing and sales at the Sales & Business School (Sälj & Marknadshögskolan) in Stockholm. She was key to Uber’s launch in Sweden. Today she’s working on fashion and lifestyle partnerships for the rideshare company in New York City. This is a Q&A with Babba Canales, marketing manager at Uber Technologies Inc.
Why did you choose this occupation of yours?
I was interested to enter the marketing space as it seemed [to] combine sales and creativity in an interesting way. When researching different schools, I liked that my school offered a combination of academic lectures from Stockholm School of Economics, as well as non-academic lectures from industry people designed to correspond to the actual requirements of the employment market today. The program also emphasized workplace-based learning and included two internship opportunities. I really liked the modern approach to education and the closeness to the market today.
How did you get the job as marketing manager of Uber in Sweden?
This is a pretty fun story. I was in the middle of starting my own digital media agency when I one day got an email from the international launcher at Uber. This was more than three years ago when Uber had only been around for almost two years and was still very US focused. I had never heard of Uber and was in total honesty not impressed by my first impression with the brand. I remember going on their website, seeing a huge picture of a Lincoln Town Car and then a red button saying “SIGN UP NOW”. Coming from a fashion and PR background, I first thought they had emailed the wrong person. I then realized they had got my name recommended from a friend, and I thought for myself – I guess it’s worth a meeting, they clearly need my help. Young and naive I went to that meeting full of confidence! I remember going there thinking I would just give them some advice and maybe get them as a client for my agency. 10 minutes in, I had completely changed my mind. I recall thinking this was the next Google and worrying about how to convince them to hire me. I then started what one could call a “fake it until you make it” masterplan. I knew they were looking for a local expert who could launch the product over a night and get Stockholmers to start Ubering. To give the impression of me being very well-connected without saying it, I invited them to a night out in Stockholm. I took them to places where I happened to know the doorman or the DJ, and got us in for free, skipping the lines, getting free drinks and pretending like I was someone everyone knew. In reality, I had just moved back to Stockholm from Berlin and was just starting to build up my network. But I think it worked, as I the next day received an exercise from Uber’s HQ, followed by an interview with their head of operations. Two weeks later and I was hired, working full speed on the Uber Sweden launch.
What are you most satisfied with from your time at Uber’s Stockholm office?
I’m very proud of all of our accomplishments during my two years at Uber in Sweden. Not only did Stockholm become Uber’s fastest growing launch city, we also managed to build a really strong brand and had a lot of exciting partnership opportunities. We were invited to speak at conferences, hire top talent, expand to more cities and launch a series of products. Everything from low-price products such as uberX, to luxurious options such as UberLUX.
How different is the job at Uber in Sweden compared to the one in New York?
A lot, it’s definitely two different jobs. Uber Sweden didn’t exist when I started, which made my entire job be about launching the product and growing the business week over week. It was very much like running your own startup! At Uber in New York, I get to focus on the things that I love the most, as opposed to doing everything. The team is much bigger and we have different departments taking care of different things. It’s still very much a startup environment with minimal hierarchy, but it’s far from a one-man show. I’m very lucky to get to do what I do, combining my background in fashion and lifestyle with my passion for Uber.
What are your most essential skills?
I have a great use of my network and the ability to build new relationships. A lot of what I do is partnerships, which means you interact with people a lot. I love meeting new people, learning from them and I’m always excited to find ways to work with people I like.
What are your future career goals?
I’m extremely passionate about my job at Uber and excited to keep growing with the company. But I also have this dream of one day building my own company.