Austin Geidt, head of global expansion for Uber, recently turned 30. Five years ago, she had just graduated from college and become Uber’s fourth employee. Five years before that, she achieved sobriety, ending what she calls a bad relationship with drugs.
Geidt is a one-woman encapsulation of what makes the technology industry so special. Yes, it’s full of self-important, entitled millennials and obnoxious “brogrammers.” It is dominated by venture capitalists who believe, evidence to the contrary, they are the smartest guys—almost always a guy, by the way—in the room.
And then there is Austin Geidt. She joined Uber after being rejected for numerous jobs for which she had no experience. She didn’t have the right background for Uber either, but she says she poured all her energy and humor into a presentation she created for the guy running the place, Ryan Graves, who gave her a job that morphed into many new jobs at the company.
I told Geidt’s story, and those of other early employees, in an oral history this summer to commemorate Uber’s fifth anniversary. She shared even more of it on Tuesday for an audience at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit made up of young female business leaders like Geidt. Despite her age, Geidt oozes wisdom and perspective. She gets overwhelmed by her job sometimes, just like everyone else, she said. But then she reminds herself that she’s already done something far more difficult and momentous than a difficult business task. She got sober—and stayed that way.
Toward the end of her short but memorable interview with Fortune’s Leigh Gallagher, Geidt changed the subject in a way that brought to life the stories of Uber, Silicon Valley, and the reinvention of work. Asked what she’d do next with her career, Geidt said she didn’t feel compelled to have a plan. Life is good, and that’s all that matters right now. “Our company sheds a new company every quarter,” she said.
Imagine being 30, having already turned your life around, and bearing witness to the creation of a once-in-a-lifetime enterprise. And to know you’re just getting started.
This article first appeared in the daily Fortune newsletter Data Sheet. Subscribe here for a daily dose of analysis from Adam Lashinsky and a curation of the day’s technology news from Heather Clancy.