Communication lead for Uber Africa advocates street smarts alongside book smarts

By in Education, Research, Policy on July 13, 2016

Samantha Allenberg, (30), who currently leads communications at Uber in Africa, is an Independent Institute of Education (The IIE) Vega graduate who believes that studying is the key to success but also that it is important to put the books aside, get outside and experience the world rather than just study it. Vega is an educational brand of The IIE.

With a BA from the University of Cape Town and an Honours Degree in Brand Strategy and Leadership from The IIE Vega School, Allenberg is responsible for driving Uber’s communication strategy across Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Being book smart is different to being street smart. Worldly experience and real conversations and debate will bring you more insight than any study manual could. This is why I encourage recent graduates to attend marketing and brand conferences, read online forums or blogs, and intern at an agency or company.

“I absolutely loved Vega. The honours degree at Vega was insightful and well structured; our lecturers were enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Our classmates were from all walks of life – everyone had a unique point of view and value to add.”

Allenberg is responsible for the communication strategy, messaging and tactics to support Uber’s public policy, and consumer communication objectives. The company offers an innovative ride-sharing platform aimed at reducing the number of cars on the road and increasing vehicle occupancy rates, providing a safe, reliable and cost-effective transport solution.

“My key focus is driving Uber’s growth strategy with creative communication plans. I regularly provide top quality communication counsel and tactical execution for cities throughout the region. I engage in proactive and reactive media relations with all media and stakeholders.

“Much of what I learnt at Vega has prepared me for the work I do today. I developed the ability to understand the audience and create overarching strategies. Strategies that maintain your core brand values but still speak to your current and future audiences. I knew I wanted a role in communication and that I wanted to work on the brand side, not in an agency, and so I selected an honours degree that would best prepare me for the task,” continues Allenberg.

Uber’s growth in Africa has been amazing. According to Allenberg, both riders and drivers love having a safe, reliable way to move around their cities. “We are really humbled by the success and growth we have seen this far. Africa is an amazing continent and the opportunities here are incredible so we are so excited about the future.

“Uber is committed to constructive dialogue with policymakers while we continue to innovate within the framework of the laws of the countries in which we operate. Our technology brings amazing benefits to riders, drivers and cities; and telling our story and explaining these benefits is at the core of our communication and marketing strategy.

“Most importantly we are a willing participant in all conversations and it is important that we are seen as transparent and honest with our audience because we are proud of what we are doing and we truly feel we are bringing amazing benefits to the cities where we operate.”

Allenberg adds that the benefits of the technology are really the core of what Uber does. Uber helps people get a ride at the push of a button; there is no waiting on the street or walking through unfamiliar neighbourhoods to find a bus. “It is the most convenient way to get a safe, reliable and affordable ride. The app detects your location, tells you about your driver in advance, and gives you the options to pay with or without cash, so it is easy and safer for both riders and drivers,” she continues.

What is next for Allenberg and Uber?

“Well we have launched UberGREEN as a pilot project in Cape Town. UberGREEN is part of Uber’s overarching vision for more sustainable mobility and better cities: cars with zero carbon emissions. It is also a step to assess the suitability of state-of-the-art electric vehicle technology for the modern needs of urban mobility. Watch this space, I have big plans for Uber,” chuckles Allenberg.