Marjorie Saint-Lot: Driven to Success

Heading up Uber in Ghana and Ivory Coast

SHUNYAA PROFIL'D

7/6/20235 دقيقة قراءة

ShunYaa Online (S.O): Tell us a bit about yourself.

Marjorie Saint-Lot (MSL): My parents are of Haitian and Ivorian descent, but I left Ivory Coast at a very young age. I completed my education and started my career in the financial services industry in Canada. I also had the opportunity to live and work in the United States for a few years and did some traveling in North and Central America.

After some time I made the decision to return to Haiti and enter the telecommunications sector. However I soon realised that my true passion lay in the field of technology given its profound impact on people's lives. While conducting research for my Masters on Ivory Coast, I fell in love with the Ivorian culture. I pursued further education in France eventually in July of 2012, I was able to fulfil my desire and relocate to Ivory Coast. I proudly identify as an African who who embraces the global citizen perspective.

S.O: What is a distinct memory from your childhood that has influenced your journey today?

MSL: I often reflect on my childhood in Haiti, where I was young girl who adored immersing herself in television. Watching Oprah’s remarkable career ascent had a profound impact on me. As the only black woman in that position at the time, she completely transformed my perspective on who I could become and what I can achieve.

S.O: Who challenged you to be better and follow through with your endeavours?

MSL: I owe a great deal of my drive and motivation to my children. They gave me a sense of purpose, and my unwavering desire to provide them with the best opportunities has guided my decision-making.

S.O: What movie or book changed your perspective on life/career/views?

MSL: The story of Empress Elizabeth of Austria has always captivated me, as I always envisioned myself as queen. I recently discovered a Netflix series called "The Empress" that portrayed the life of the young queen. Life has presented me with challenges that have prompted me to contemplate what it truly means to embody the essence of a queen and the make decisions that reflect dignity and nobility.

S.O: From our research on you, your career path started in Finance and segued into Tech? What was the motivation for the career pivot?

MSL: The impact of technology is truly remarkable. It has the power to provide opportunities and access to services that were previously inaccessible. This aspect has always been a tremendous source of inspiration for me and continues to be so. I have always had the strong desire to make a positive impact on people's lives, and the convergence of technology and the development of new business models has allowed me to pursue this.

S.O: Tech and digitalization is a young industry in West Africa. What are your thoughts on the pace of its growth and what are the challenges you personally face ?

MSL: I believe that the African tech scene is rapidly growing and will flourish in the future. This is where Africa will emerge as a significant player. Take mobile money, for example - it originated here and has been exported to the rest of the world.

Undoubtedly, challenges there are that need to be addressed, such as educational gaps, limited infrastructure in rural areas, the increased cost of living, and limited access to data, among others. Additionally, the pace of policy-making to establish the right frameworks may be a concern. However, I firmly believe that once these issues are resolved the African tech scene will be a formidable force to be reckoned with.

S.O: There is a rise in African women who want to occupy a seat at the table to provide a much needed diversification and gender inclusivity, however, living in Africa where the industry is still in its infancy may prove to be challenging. What advice would you give a young girl looking at this career prospect?

MSL: I wholeheartedly agree that having a clear vision is crucial. In today's digital age, the beauty of technology lies in the fact that anyone with access to a phone and data can teach themselves anything. It is incredible that kids with no formal education intact, have managed to learn coding and acquire valuable skills. When individuals align their vision with the resources and skills they acquire, success becomes within reach.

SYO: Congratulations on your role as Head of Uber in Ghana and Ivory Coast. How has the transition to the role been and how are you coping with being the head for two diverse but similar client profiles?

MSL: Thank you. I refer to them as sister countries. It has been a superb ride. I have a great team in Ghana and I’m in Ghana quite often. Humility and empathy are the qualities I bring with me to effectively fulfill my role and navigate through the transition. It has been a year since I assumed this position, and Ghanaians have been incredibly welcoming to me. I also have Ghanaian roots, so it feels like a second home.

S.O: Uber is a poster child for entrepreneurship and innovation. You give basically everyone the opportunity to be their own boss. How are you and Uber as a whole ensuring that women are taking advantage of it?

MSL: Uber as a company has achieved remarkable feats. We have designed products catering for women, such as the option for women to choose women only drivers. We also recognized that people also may want to partake in the business opportunity but face challenges in accessing vehicles. To address this we partnered with Moove Africa, a like-minded partner that values diversity and capitalizes on the growing number of women drivers across Africa.

Furthermore, we partnered with the African Management Institute to provide women with entrepreneurial skills to expand their income-generating opportunities. Recently in Ghana, we organised a workshop with Ecobank focusing on financial inclusion for female entrepreneurs. We are always optimistic about aligning ourselves with companies that prioritise diversity..

Ensuring safety is our priority. We have facilitated anti-harassment workshops that have been attended by over 200,000 drivers across the EMEA region.

S.O: We believe that for one to truly love where they work, they must align and internally mirror their company’s brand values. In what ways do you as an individual live Uber’s values?

MSL: One of my favorite Uber core values is "Build with heart". I strive to be actively engaged and passionate in everything that I do. I also resonate with our value of “Do the right thing”. Even when the right thing is challenging, it is crucial to choose it. It may mean that you lose the battle short term, regardless, it must be done. I love our value of “Go get it”. You simply don’t give up in the face of tough times. You channel your inner grit and overcome any set back.

S.O: If you could do it all again, would you choose the same path or do something different?

MSL: Girl, it is my journey that made me the woman I am today, and I won’t change a single thing. The tough times were necessary in shaping me to who I am today.

SYO: If you had one month off work and an all expense paid to visit any country where would you go?

MSL: I would spend the first week at home taking care of myself then I’d head off on a food expedition through Thailand, South Korea, either New Zealand or Australia and finish Brazil or Argentina. I would also love to explore Mozambique and Namibia. I’m eager to see where the desert that meets the ocean in Namibia and to enjoy scuba diving in Mozambique.