Beth Huddleston says she spent much of her childhood learning the importance of community service. The Atlanta native and daughter of a nurse and a Vietnam veteran has supported various efforts as a volunteer, whether it was translating at a women’s clinic in Guatemala or developing a 60-person mentoring program for at-risk girls in West Atlanta. She later joined global consulting firm McKinsey & Co., where she worked to help companies create jobs.
So when one of her most trusted friends from business school called her with a job opportunity at Uber DFW, Huddleston was confused. How would this help her serve others? “It took a long time, and multiple conversations” to convince her, says Wayne Ting, general manager at Uber in San Francisco. “It took some persuasion to help her see [that] the GM role is a bigger role than just the business.”
But once Huddleston learned about Uber’s community initiatives, its accomplishments, and its mission—to make transportation as reliable as running water everywhere—she came around. “I’m just trying to make a difference,” says Huddleston (not to be confused with Dallas’ international chief of protocol, who has the same name). She hopes Uber can help solve issues like transportation deserts, drunken driving, and providing flexible forms of generating income.
The 32-year-old Huddleston, who’s spent nearly 520 hours in Uber rides across 21 cities, became the general manager of Uber DFW in June, succeeding Leandre Johns. She took the reins at a time when Uber DFW had already jumped over complicated regulatory hurdles in Dallas and Fort Worth, overcome resistance from market competitors, and grown to offer rides in cities across the region.
Leading the oldest Uber market in Texas, Huddleston is charged with keeping up with the needs of the rapidly growing region, rolling out new products across sectors, and leveraging technology to address some of the cities’ transportation issues. “I think we’re finally in a really good place with the dust settled,” says Johns, who’s now Uber’s external affairs representative for Texas. “But we’ll see new challenges pop up as we continue to grow in the area.”
Huddleston has wasted no time. She’s already begun strengthening Uber’s partnership with Dallas Area Rapid Transit for cross-promotion and worked with the Deep Ellum Foundation to create a pickup and drop-off location to help curb drunken driving. She has picked up where Johns left off in a partnership with the Denton County Transportation Authority to offer a discount program to Highland Village. She’s also laying the groundwork with local healthcare systems to provide transportation for patients—a cause that reminds her of her mother’s work—and is helping to roll out Uber Central, which gives businesses a certain amount of rides for a flat fee.
“You will see us trying to integrate with companies, and create more partnerships around their communities,” Huddleston says. “The way we think about the next phase is: how do we use our strategic assets to better serve the communities?”