Behind every Uber trip you’ve taken in Egypt, Tino Waked is making sure there is a trained driver ready to take you where you need to go. Now Head of Operations for Uber Egypt, Tino received a masters in Economics from UCL in London and his MBA in Business from INCIAD in Singapore. With a keen eye for business and entrepreneurship, Tino worked with McKinsey & Company for three years before starting Train for Aim, his own start-up with two of his friends. He now uses that expertise to get all Uber passengers in Egypt from point A to Z.
1. What is exactly your job at Uber? What does it entail?
My role is Head of Operations and it’s basically trying to make sure the supply is there. I make sure there’s cars on the roads, that the drivers are trained and know how to accept a request, and make sure they know how to get around. Basically it’s everything from finding the drivers to putting them on the road. I make sure that you, as the rider, are able to find a car within five minutes, that you have a pleasant experience, and that your method of payment is working. It’s basically the operation of the entire process.
2. That sounds like a big job! Why did you decide to join Uber in Egypt in the first place?
Uber always had a plan to expand to the Middle East. I was doing my MBA in INSEAD in Singapore and I found out they are recruiting to start the launch in Egypt. So I spoke to them and I thought it was a very interesting idea, not just on the rider’s side but also on the driver’s side. You are creating so much economic opportunity; we are talking about 2000 new jobs every month. There are people from all backgrounds and classes. We even have students from AUC and GUC, who instead of wasting their free time, are instead being productive and learning how to make their own money. Other people who were unemployed for years or are retired and miss human interaction are now able to work and be productive. So I really feel like I am making a difference in the country when I wake up everyday and I hear these stories from the drivers and how much impact Uber has had on their lives. To be honest when I first joined, I really did not expect it to reach this level of success. I thought we would have only a couple of hundred cars and only a certain class would use it, but it is honestly incredible the amount of people who use Uber today – it’s gone viral!
3. Tell us about the experience of getting Uber in Egypt up and running.
It’s been quite an interesting experience. When we started out we used to bring two or three drivers a week. We didn’t even have an office so we used to take the drivers and go to a coffeeshop to train them there. We used to even go to this guy’s house who works with us in marketing called Noor and bring drivers there for their training until his dad basically kicked us out. We then moved to a space in Maadi where we were training a larger number of drivers, and then we moved to the AUC Greek Campus where we are currently located. As I said, we started with 2 or 3 driver per week, now we bring in over 2000 or 3000 drivers a month. So yes, it’s been quite the ride. It’s been very humbling to experience it all from the beginning and to hear people talking on your behalf and saying that Uber changed their lives whether it’s the rider or the driver.
4. What are some mistakes you made in your career that you learned from and would want to share the lessons?
That’s a tough one, I think I’ve made a lot of mistakes but two come to mind. The first one is trying to do too many things at the same time. Personally, I’m the kind of person who wants to be working out, working, going out with my friends, playing football and a thousand other things at the same time. When I was doing Train for Aim, I was also working for McKinsey and applying for my MBA all at the same time. Even when I joined Uber, I was still trying to keep up with Train for Aim. This makes it very difficult to give your attention to a specific thing, you can do a couple of things as long as you’re putting in the time that each thing deserves. The second one is, you should always do what you enjoy doing. I know it sounds cliché, but if you’re not waking up everyday excited about what you’re doing then you’re doing something wrong.
5. Who influenced your career the most?
This is going to sound very cheesy, but it’s my mum Nevin El Tahry. She’s a serial entrepreneur, and ever since I was three years old, she used to come home everyday and tell us everything she did at work. I always say that I’ve learned in school, but also just as much, if not more, at home. The business ideas and the excitement about growth and building new companies has come from home a lot more than from my MBA or my education in general. My mum started a lot of companies and sold a lot of companies so she went through the whole end to end business cycle. She’s always been an inspiration and if I achieve half of what she has achieved I’ll be very happy.
6. What do you think it takes to become young and successful?
I think the most important thing at a young age is to be receptive to feedback. In our Egyptian society, we tend to like to tell people how to do things so you need to be smart enough to filter the beneficial feedback from non-beneficial feedback. Other people see you from the outside, but you don’t see yourself from the outside. Therefore, you need to always reflect on what you’re doing on a daily basis. Before I go to bed every night I think about what I did that day and how I could have done it better. It only takes 5 minutes. I think the people who grow at a young age are those who really develop based on the feedback they receive. I’m not just talking about negative feedback but also strength-based feedback so that you not only fix your shortcomings but also enhance your strengths and edges and put them into the correct use.