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Uber America Boss: ‘I’ve Started Driving Myself’

December 1, 2016, 1:35 PM UTC

Rachel Holt, the head of North America operations at Uber, moonlights as an Uber driver, she revealed to an audience at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit on Wednesday.

“I’ve started driving myself,” Holt said on stage in Laguna Niguel, Calif. “You learn so much about what the driver experience is from actually doing it.”

Holt, an alum of Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list, has taken rides from the car-hailing service—no surprise—”thousands and thousands” of times, she said. Getting behind the wheel was an entirely different experience, though.

“To actually get that other side,” she continued, “you learn where the pain points are. You learn what’s stressful.”

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A number of Uber challengers have sprouted up since Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp cofounded the ride-hailing service in 2009. The preponderance of new rivals—Lyft, Gett, Flywheel—must make the competition for drivers more acute, noted Fortune‘s Leigh Gallagher, who interviewed Holt.

Listen to the full conversation in our MPW OnStage podcast below:

“How do you handle that?” Gallagher asked.

“We’re really committed,” Holt replied. “A lot of what we’re going to be launching in 2017 is going to be really focused on drivers.”

Holt then revealed her side gig. “I was really nervous before I did my first trip,” she confessed.

Read more: “Austin Geidt: Rehab Helped Me Thrive at Uber”

Mastering the driver side of the equation is, in fact, a major priority for the company moving forward, Holt added. Uber employees are “thinking deeply” about how to perfect on-boarding and talent retention, she said. For example, the company is designing training materials that are tailored to a driver’s skill level, from newcomer to veteran.

When you get in the driver’s seat, “you really learn a lot about where the pain points are,” Holt said.

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