A top Uber exec describes how the company made decisions when it had no CEO

  • Rachel Holt, Uber's head of operations in US and Canada, says new leadership makes the company well positioned for 2018.
  • Holt said 15-person team kept the company running when it was without a CEO, getting it through that critical moment.
  • Uber is getting ready to deliver more than 15 million rides on New Year's Eve and Holt sees it as an example of how 2018 will go for Uber.

As Uber gets ready for New Year's Eve, typically the ride-sharing company's busiest and most important night, the company's head of operations in US and Canada, Rachel Holt, talked about the company's turbulent last year and what lies ahead.

Holt talked about how keeping the company running without a CEO provided an opportunity -- amidst a lot of chaos.

"We had an executive leadership team that was a 15-person team that had to come together, break down silos, work incredibly close together to figure out how to move the company forward in a productive way. That period really created an environment that made it easier for someone to come in," she told CNBC. "It paved the way for someone new to come in to a really productive team."

And given the turbulent year Uber has had, stakes may be higher as they close out 2017. Holt sees New Year's Eve as an example of how 2018 will go for Uber, adding that the company's new leadership sends a strong signal of what's to come next.

New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has been "incredibly involved" in New Year's preparations this year, Holt said, and she expects him to be hands-on throughout the evening.

Last New Year's Eve, Uber delivered 15 million rides, and the company expects to do even more this year. In the past, former CEO Travis Kalanick was involved in New Year's preparations and stayed on call, updating social media accounts and fielding customer complaints.

Holt said of Khosrowshahi's leadership, "I think we've seen, even in just last 3 months is a very humble approach and one recognizes that everything hasn't happened in the right way in the past."

Khosrowshahi has already been vocal about working more closely with regulators, as Uber faces challenges in the European Union and elsewhere. The EU recently ruled that Uber should be regulated as a transportation company, not a digital platform.

"As we become more important to transportation in those markets and as consumers demand Uber be part of their option set, we've seen legislators and regulators really try to figure out where Uber fits in and we've been a really important part of those conversations."