Former turnaround exec Bozoma Saint John: Uber had become 'the poster child for everything gone wrong'

  • Former Uber executive Bozoma Saint John tells CNBC the company is "on its way to being great. It's not there yet."
  • Saint John had been in charge of repairing Uber's reputation and morale.
  • She left the ride-hailing company last week after just a year.
Uber's former Chief Brand Officer, Bozoma Saint John, joined the company just one week after Travis Kalanick was ousted.
CNBC
Uber's former Chief Brand Officer, Bozoma Saint John, joined the company just one week after Travis Kalanick was ousted.

Former Uber executive Bozoma Saint John told CNBC on Tuesday the company is "on its way to being great. It's not there yet."

Saint John had been in charge of repairing Uber's reputation and morale before she left the ride-hailing company last week after just a year.

"I came in right in the moment of turbulence," Saint John told CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin from the annual Cannes film festival. "[Founder] Travis Kalanick was ousted about a week after I started. And so with that came a whole set of other issues."

Saint John called it a "troubling time" for the company. Uber brought on now-CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and suffered through issues on the board.

As the chief brand executive, Saint John was tasked with representing what she called "the poster child for everything gone wrong."

"I went full force in trying to re-establish what I felt was going to be an important narrative for Uber, which was, of course, fixing the internal cultural issues," Saint John said.

Uber under Kalanick faced a handful of scandals around the treatment of drivers and reports of sexual harassment within the company. Uber in recent months launched an extensive ad campaign that prominently features Khosrowshahi and vows to be a "much, much better company" for riders and drivers.

Saint John said she wasn't involved in the campaign, but she called the ads "truthful" to the team's efforts. Saint John said she believes in the new leadership.

"You know, [Khosrowshahi] is sincere in what he wants to do, along with the leadership team, and so he's trying to communicate that," she said. "The culture is much better. It's on its path."

Saint John was slated to represent her former employer on two panels Tuesday and Wednesday at the annual advertising gathering in Cannes, France. She is now chief marketing officer at Endeavor, a holding company that includes marketing companies, media companies and talent agencies.

—CNBC's Chloe Aiello contributed to this report.