1. What was your first job?
While in university – during the holidays – I worked in a mall in America. I was probably 20 at the time.
2. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
It is often about what’s next, what a big disruption opportunity is for the business, how we can continue to grow and how we can continue to scale.
3. Who has had the biggest impact on your career?
I would say my parents who provide me with advisory support to pursue my career.
4. What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I have received is you should measure things based on the return on effort. What I mean is, what is the output for the amount of time dedicated to a specific task. I think that is how you should measure things. Anything that you are doing that takes a lot of time but the value that you are getting out of it is not very high – you should relook that. [Look] at how can you make it more efficient, [or] how you can potentially automate.
5. The top reasons why you have been successful in business?
I have, I think, [the traits] I [also] like to see in job candidates – attitude, passion for what you are doing, and willingness to put in the hard work to succeed. It is important that you are extremely motivated at what you are doing.
6. Where’s the best place to prepare for leadership? Business school or on the job?
On the job, and I have been to business school. Nothing prepares you for a job like doing a job.
7. How do you relax?
I spend time with friends and family.
8. By what time in the morning do you like to be at your desk?
Since I’m actually better at work at night than early morning, I usually get to my desk between 08:30 and 09:00. But I can work until relatively late into the evening.
9. Your favourite job interview question?
What makes them passionate about the company? What drives them about the company? [It is] less about their skill set but more about their passion and attitude.
10. What is your message to Africa’s aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs?
Africa is an exceptionally inspiring place with a host of opportunities and exceptional talent. I think we often doubt ourselves as Africans, [and] are sceptical of the impact we can have. I think as Africans we can have a huge impact on Africa and beyond.
Alon Lits is general manager for sub-Saharan Africa at Uber, the San Francisco-headquartered global online transportation network company. Lits began his career at Investec. He holds an MBA from INSEAD.