Leadership

Here's the moment Uber's new CEO pick gained confidence in himself

Uber CEO next pick Dara Khosrowshahi
Drew Angerer | Getty Images
Uber CEO next pick Dara Khosrowshahi

Ride-sharing company Uber has selected Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as its new chief executive officer, just over two months after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned.

While Khosrowshahi currently has a 94 percent approval rating as one of the highest-rated CEOs on Glassdoor, the tech pioneer hasn't always felt confident in his ability to lead.

"Early on, I didn't know what I was getting into," Khosrowshahi says in a profile as a 2013 Ernst & Young (EY) Technology Entrepreneur of the Year. "For the first year when I was running the company, I wasn't a particularly good CEO."

In the interview, he discusses the moment he gained confidence in his ability to effectively lead, bringing up the story of a young engineer who offered him some advice. "Dara, you're telling us what to do, but you're not telling us where to go," he recalls in the EY interview.

"That really rung a bell for me," Khosrowshahi says, "where I was just telling people what to do but I wasn't laying the vision of here's where we've got to go."

"If you tell us where to go we'll do it," he recalls the young woman saying, "because we believe in you. We want to go there, tell us where to go and then we'll do it."

"That really shifted my view of what a CEO has to do," Khosrowshahi says. "A CEO of a multinational global company can't say what to do. You've got to plant the flag."

Expedia began as entrepreneur and Glassdoor co-founder Rich Barton's internal project at Microsoft into the billion-dollar online travel company. Khosrowshahi was 34 years old when Expedia later spun off from its parent company IAC/InterActiveCorp, the New York Times reports.

Although he wasn't a part of Expedia's founding team, he says in a 2013 LinkedIn post that he felt lucky "to be in the right place at the right time" with taking over as the company's CEO.

For the future, Khosrowshahi would do well to take his own advice as Uber's CEO. He writes that while at Expedia, the company has adopted a "culture of celebrating failure" because there is almost always "another chance to get up and try again."

"Taking big risks combined with having a team you believe in and that believes just as much in you as a leader make for long-term wins even in a game of inches," Khosrowshahi writes.

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