How Uber Scales Remote Engineering Onboarding Globally

Uber TechKnowCon

with Cameron Breen 

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Every month, PlusPlus gathers together leaders working at the intersection of technical training and learning and development for the TechKnowCon Roundtable to explore topics top of mind for the industry.

Our September 2020 speaker, Cameron Breen, Senior Program Manager for engineering training at Uber, explained how his team at headquarters in San Francisco developed a consistent global onboarding experience for engineering team members learning remotely. 

Uber’s onboarding program

Engucation is Uber’s onboarding program for new software engineers, data scientists, data analysts, technical program managers, and technical writers. Internal subject matter specialists, or Engucators, facilitate the program.  

With tech sites worldwide, the Engineering Training team at Uber oversees the onboarding process, helping subject matter specialists curate content and develop material that is easy for participants to follow. 

Guiding principles for global learning 

Uber lives by three core principles when designing a global learning experience. 

When a team member is onboarding, they need access to the same course and content, regardless of their location. Whether they are working out of the headquarters or their home office, the experience should be consistent regardless of their work location. 

Consistency is key, but it is important to remember that local teams will have a local nuance. The Eng Training team, based at Uber’s HQ in San Francisco, doesn’t prescribe how the program looks at every site. They work with a cross-functional group of partners, including stakeholders, managers, and leaders to drive the content.   

The team makes sure the content’s core is the same and uses a program to maintain the same quality, but lean on local teams to give a local flavor. 

It is also crucial to iterate at the right speed. The team’s onboarding program is a vast machine. If they get feedback, something changes in the program, or they make an observation, they try not to rush changes through immediately. Sometimes things happen, and they do need to act quickly, but they are thoughtful and intentional around those changes. 

Change and opportunity 

Events of the last year have required a response from Uber and changed their trajectory. But this shift has created opportunities and forced them to think about ways to move their onboarding programs forward.

The Eng Training Team found that their core principles applied to the new environment and focused on developing their program in three key areas:  

  • Facilitator training for remote delivery.  In March, the team surveyed the course facilitators and realized that only a small proportion was familiar with remote delivery. They needed to prepare them adequately for teaching in an unfamiliar format;  
  • They collected feedback from everyone involved in the onboarding process, not only groups they traditionally thought to ask. They included participants, facilitators, managers, and anybody else who might have a useful perspective;
  • They also collaborated with regional and global teams to work around the challenging timeline on new projects this year. 

You can watch the full recording of Cameron’s talk here and join TechKnowCon once a month for talks on technical education in the workplace.

About TechKnowCon

TechKnowCon originated as an annual conference in 2018 to bring together peers from various companies to compare notes and share best practices about technical training, documentation, and learning in the workplace.

About TechKnowCon Roundtable

TechKnowCon Roundtable is a facilitated monthly gathering over Zoom where technical learning leaders at various companies can share best practices, ask questions, and discuss changes in the industry.

Click here to register for the next event.

Want to be a speaker at a future TechKnowCon Roundtable? Let us know.

Click here to join our Slack community of leaders at the intersection of technical training and learning & development.

Based on the TechKnowCon Roundtable hosted in September 2020, moderated by Marko Gargenta, Founder of PlusPlus.         

Written by Sophia Wichtowska. Sophia is an educator who specializes in thought leadership, opinion pieces, and content creation for learning publications. Her work focuses on the latest research in learning theory and practice. She regularly contributes articles on workplace learning and professional development. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.