Alejandro Nino – Uber
At first glance, the last thing an Uber customer needed during a government stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic was a ride. Literally, where could you go?
But upon further reflection, Uber’s situation offered the multinational technology company an opportunity to innovate and positively contribute to communities during a crisis. Through development of new safety and health solutions, Uber is assisting medical personnel, providing supplies to those in need, and supporting restaurants to launch new take-away programs.
With these new solutions, the drivers and delivery people are able to continue to use the Uber platform to earn throughout the crisis.
At least that’s how Alejandro Nino, Uber’s legal director of global insurance for Latin America, tells it. He says the company recently launched three new products: Uber Flash, for the delivery of goods; Uber Medics, to provide free or discounted rides for medical personnel and blood donors who need a ride to the hospital; and Uber Essential, to provide unique community support ride options.
It’s just a couple of ways, Nino says, that Uber is distinguishing itself as a company that cares for its users and the community.
“Our three new products were born out of the crisis,” Nino says from his Miami office. “The beauty of being a technology company is that the group here is constantly experimenting with new products that make us better. The goal has always been to offer mobility and delivery options for everyone, everywhere.”
At the beginning of COVID-19, Uber made a judgment call and asked people not to ride.
“As a company who moves people, this was a bold step, but was the right thing to do for the communities we serve,” Nino says.
There was opportunity to support drivers to find new ways to earn without rides. To that end, Uber Flash kept drivers in motion, allowing them to earn by delivering goods—anything from flowers to groceries. Uber Essential launched unique community support ride options by connecting divorced parents to their children, or adults to their elderly parents, though officially, users need a government permit.
Uber also lent a hand to medical personnel with Uber Medics, giving free or steeply discounted rides to health care professionals working exhausting, around-the-clock schedules. A second spoke of the product offers rides to blood donors to get them to facilities to do blood draws.
“We had to ignite opportunity by devising products to make life easier,” Nino says. “This was the way to help drivers and the community.”
Uber Medics, Uber Flash and Uber Essential transformed the Uber app, which everyone already had, into a community support platform.
Every ride is insured
Every trip won’t be perfect with cars on the road—incidents happen—but it’s Nino’s role to ensure that every ride in LATAM has insurance.
Working a territory that includes Latin America and the Caribbean, Nino is responsible for creating insurance solutions while mitigating legal risk and championing regulations that account for innovative business models across the region. Nobody can bank on never having an accident, he says, but insurance helps protect people from losing their earnings if their car crashes or they can’t work.
“We continue to launch new insurance programs across the region because we want to ensure that all trips are covered as the platform continues to innovate,” he says.
To that end, in Mexico Uber’s working with AXA Seguros—an insurance partner—to offer drivers voluntary preventive health care and telemedicine insurance. In surveys, drivers told Uber that they want access to health insurance tailored to their way of earning.
Meanwhile in Chile, Uber’s partnering with Seguros SURA to offer tailor-made car insurance and other insurance solutions based on what drivers requested through user surveys.
“This is not a money-making venture for us,” Nino says. “Just an opportunity for drivers to protect themselves and their families.”
Even if problems from the pandemic disappear, will the new products stay? Perhaps.
As Nino says, the company has a bold vision for its future in transportation, which could include everything from moving people, to food and goods, to expanding its presence in the freight business.
His role is to adapt to manage business needs, adhere to regulations, contribute to creative problem-solving and mitigate risks within the boundaries and spirit of the law.
“If these products continue to hold value for our users, we will continue to offer them,” he says. “The beauty of our model is that if we have to unplug something, we can always adapt and think about the next opportunity to innovate.”
At the root of any solution, for this father of two, is the immense satisfaction he derives from working at the company. Every day he says he wakes up excited to be working with smart people on a new product seeking to make a difference.
“I love that we are innovating every day,” Nino says. “We have changed the world, set solutions in motion and are always looking for ways to positively contribute to our communities. At the core, safety, and above and beyond protection are what drives us.”
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