Uber has appointed a new general manager to oversee Dallas-Fort Worth, Waco, Amarillo, El Paso, Midland, and Odessa. This represents the first change in leadership in the region since Uber came to the region in September 2012.
Beth Huddleston is taking the reins from DFW’s first general manager Leandre Johns, who now serves in the newly created role of external affairs representative for Texas. Huddleston joins Uber from global management consulting firm McKinsey and Co., where she focused on transportation and logistics. At McKinsey, Huddleston routinely relied on Uber when traveling to and from Atlanta.
“I was a frequent user of the product—a super fan,” she said. “So the transition was an easy one for me because I’m passionate about transportation and logistics organizations, plus I was a fan about Uber itself.”
Huddleston is charged with continuing the expansion of Uber within the region. She will also be charged with quality maintenance for the drivers as well as the riders. “My goal is to make it as reliable in South Dallas as in Uptown,” she said.
Huddleston said she plans to build on the foundation created by Johns, who worked with the city of Dallas and Fort Worth as they drafted new regulations to include ride-sharing services. Johns grew Uber’s regional presence from a two-person team to 20 employees. He also brought UberBLACK, UberX, SELECT, and UberEATS to the market as well as service to Dallas Love Field and DFW International airports.
Meanwhile, Johns, who will continue to be based in Dallas, plans to focus on policy across the state. The company operates in 20 cities with offices in Dallas, Austin, and Houston. His current priorities: the cities of Austin and Houston. Uber ended service in Austin earlier this year due to new regulations the city approved. It is determining whether it will stay in Houston, which is requiring drivers to submit fingerprints and be background-checked by the city.
“We haven’t given up,” Johns said, adding that the company is working on carving a path to re-enter the Austin market. “We’re going to continue to be focused on it and make sure we can be back in that city as a major player.”
Uber is also focused on expanding its service in Houston as well as making entrances in other Texas markets, many of which have reached out to the company aiming to improve tourism and transportation services. He’s also seeking new partnerships like DriveSouth, the initiative launched earlier this year to sign up 2,500 drivers in South Dallas over the next year.
“Other community partnerships could take effect in different fields like aviation, sports, or healthcare,” Johns said. “It’s really making sure we’re touching all areas of Dallas.”