Sandra Monroy

Legal Director, Andean Region, Uber and Uber Eats

I have over 20 years of legal experience, most of it in-house. I started my professional career working as a legal advisor in the notary service. In 2005, I became general counsel for Telebucaramanga, a subsidiary of the telecommunications company Telefónica. Following this, I spent a year practicing litigation in private practice as a senior associate at Baker McKenzie. In 2008, I moved in-house once again as the manager of Latin American corporate legal affairs for the Colombian oil and gas company Terpel (formerly known as Organización Terpel). During the past ten years, I spent two years at TV Azteca as their legal manager, and four years as a legal and compliance director at CenturyLink in charge of the Northern and Andean regions of Latin America. One of the highlights from my time at CenturyLink was working on a team for the deployment of the first submarine cable connecting Colombia with the Pacific Ocean. I then spent a year at Claro Colombia as director of institutional relations and social responsibility, where one of my biggest achievements came in the form of successfully negotiating roaming agreements for the deployment of 4G networks with Avantel, Telefónica and TIGO.

I am now the legal director for the Andean Region for Uber, and for Panama and the Caribbean for Uber Eats. The recruitment team at Uber contacted me in 2018 and I made the decision to move to Uber because I see its importance as one of the most disruptive companies in the world. Through the use of technology it has a huge impact on the communities in which it operates globally. At Uber I am responsible for litigation, commercial and corporate matters, regulatory issues, competition law, and consumer protection rights. I would never include the word ‘typical’ to describe a working day here. My role requires a constant balance between legal strategy and meeting the business’s goals, and minimising risk for Uber while providing the best legal advice. Every day here is full of challenges, so I have to think outside of the box a lot of the time. I have faced a number of compliance challenges, but my team and I work with the board of directors to manage these crises. The experience I have gained has prepared me to handle such challenges successfully, and I have learned how to make a 360-degree evaluation of complex situations in order to come up with ways to solve them.

One challenge modern companies such as Uber face head-on relates to diversity and inclusion. We are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for everyone, which includes having policies in place to prevent any form of discrimination or harassment. Uber values the unique contributions of individuals with varying backgrounds and believes that diversity contributes to the success of its business. At Uber, all employees are given the opportunity to develop within diverse employee resource groups (ERGs) such as ‘Pride at Uber’, ‘Able at Uber’, ‘Parents at Uber’, ‘Interfaith at Uber’ and ‘Women of Uber’, among others. These groups promote the diverse nature of Uber’s workforce and improve work behaviours and attitudes every day. ‘Women of Uber’ is an internal group that seeks to find new opportunities, support, and sponsorship for women to ensure all women can speak openly and connect with external networks. It enables them be ‘a voice for women empowerment to change the culture from the inside out’.

“I am strongly committed to empowering the women on my legal team to take risks, to lead and to participate.”

Personally, I promote diversity and inclusion – particularly as it relates to women – by encouraging the women I work with to speak up, to value their own work, and to be confident in bringing their unique knowledge and opinions to the table. I am strongly committed to empowering the women on my legal team to take risks, to lead, to participate in external workshops, and to build their own self-brand. The #MeToo movement created awareness of a difficult reality many people were (and still are) facing in workplace environments. At the beginning of my career, I experienced harassment myself and can assure you that it is not only scary, but it also makes you feel very lonely. What truly amazes me about the #MeToo movement is the way in which it has encouraged women to speak up and support each other. It has certainly proved that ‘unity is a strength’ is more than just four words. The movement has definitely had a major impact on culture and determined a new era in which we women are no longer scared or threatened to speak up for ourselves in unfair situations.

Even though I believe quotas have played a part in creating gender equal workplaces, nowadays we can achieve this in other ways such as by using fair selection processes with clear terms, giving the same opportunities to men and women, and by ensuring we have selection processes that include similar numbers of male and female candidates – as well as male and female interviewers – in order to guarantee inclusive processes that result in fairly elected professionals.

There is an increased understanding of the importance of including women in higher positions and a greater appreciation of women in the professional field. We now see women as high-level partners at top law firms and developing successful careers in leading companies such as Uber. One of the perks in this digital era is having the ability to be connected, and this has an impact on diversity and inclusion. It makes it easier for companies such as Uber to have a global policy on diversity and inclusion that applies worldwide, allowing diversity initiatives to take place without limitations or the excuse of geographical differences.