Office Hours: I'm the senior market operations manager at Lyft. I'm Emily Ellis.Featured

Hi Everyone! I’m Emily Ellis, Senior Market Operations Manager at Lyft, where I focus on identifying and building the programs, partnerships and strategies that support our local communities.I joined the Lyft team in 2018, making the decision to take the leap and leave my last job where I was comfortable - while 7 months pregnant! I loved my previous job but I was no longer learning or growing. At Lyft, I have grown personally and professionally, while supporting a brand and mission I love. I support the Mid-Atlantic region as an Operations Manager and continue to lead all major lines of business and local programs across DC, Maryland and Virginia, including local partnerships, business development, community engagement and logistics. Prior to Lyft, I led teams at 2U, a global leader in education technology; SocialCode, a marketing and insights partner that manages digital advertising for leading brands; and LivingSocial, the marketplace to buy and share the best things to do in your city and beyond. At each of these companies I honed skills in operations, process development and program management. Ask me anything about running operations and development for companies of all sizes, working at a national HQ vs. a regional office, working at the intersection of transportation and technology, managing large teams (now remotely!), and thriving in constant change.
Thanks so much for joining us @emilyellis!Elphas – please ask @emilyellis your questions before Friday, August 28th. @emilyellis may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Nice to meet you emilyellis!
Nice to meet you, too, @MiraPari! So happy to be a part of this community.
Nice to meet you! Thank you!
Thanks for joining @emilyellis! My questions is about project management / business operations. When you're at the very beginning of a large-scale project, what are your first steps? Do you have any tips or favorite practices for starting new projects well?
Thank you, Anna! I have worn so many hats in my career, but I might enjoy project management and really getting into the weeds of a business the most. What can I say - I love a good spreadsheet and checklist!This is a great question, and one my team has been talking about a lot more now that we are running a local business from home. My first actions when tackling a large-scale project actually start before Step 1 - asking a few critical questions: 1. What is our 'why' for doing this? 2. What is the intended outcome? 3. What is the size of the opportunity, and the collective resources needed? Assuming we decide to proceed based on the responses, we determine where this project fits within our existing roadmap / priorities. Then, whoever is leading, assembles a very simple project overview. I find that this forces you to identify a very clear path, with owners, dependencies and deadlines. It also makes it easier to get buy-in and support from any cross-functional stakeholders.Finally - I always recommend building the reporting to track progress (and flag any unintended outcomes!) right away, so there aren't surprises when the project has 'wrapped'. You want to make sure you have definable KPIs AND a way to track them. I hope this helps!
Hi @emilyellis I love your story. Thanks so much for sharing. My question is: how do you identify partnerships that are aligned to your mission and serve Lyft's revenue goals?
Hi Ellen! Thank you for the kind words. I am so happy to be here.Great question. At Lyft, we partner with a variety of organizations in need of safe and cost-effective transportation (even more important today!) - hospitals and healthcare systems, schools, major employers, local government agencies, and underserved communities. We all need a reliable way to get around. That said, it's important that we partner with groups / individuals that align to our corporate mission, and that we can truly guarantee we can meet their needs. For example, if there is a group in a very rural community that needs a transit partner that can guarantee a ride is available at any time of day, in under 3 minutes, we may not be the best fit based on local driver supply. We are always upfront about that and set the right expectations. We do our due diligence before entering into a contract so the partner is able to meet the needs of their end user, and so we can determine if it makes sense for our business (although we also partner with several non-profit organizations to provide free or discounted rides, funded by Lyft!)I hope this helps!
Thank you, Emily! I'd love to learn what types of training and experience would be helpful in demonstrating ops chops: is it scrum certification, supply chain work, etc.? I'm finding in my job search that operations can mean so many different things at different companies! As someone who's pivoting into operations, what are some skills to have?
Hi Vivli! Congrats on the pivot - moving into a new space is always so exciting! So, as you pointed out Operations can mean so many things - I've worked in development operations, sales operations, product operations, and true business operations before moving into my current role which is much more focused on BizDev and Strategy. With each new role, there was some level of overlap in technical skills I was able to repurpose, but I think it's much more about your attitude and work style. I have never really done any formal technical trainings or certifications - and some positions/companies may require that, but I think the following characteristics are more important:1. Ability to act as a 'firefighter' and pivot quickly. No day is same, so it's important to be ok with change2. Willingness to ask questions and learn new processes and systems 3. Move quickly but stay organized, as you are often juggling multiple projects at once! 4... but also know how to prioritize and focusIf you can do these things and have a genuine love of learning you will be amazing! I think knowing excel and powerpoint is helpful, and if your company uses a CRM become best friends with the lead admin and learn how to build your own reports ;)
Hi @emilyellis! I'm a former Lyftie. I was the proposal manager for LBS. Your work is so interesting and important! Excited to see what questions you get. * fist bump*
Thank you, @hannahlake! The work the LBS team is doing is so interesting - and important! It's been awesome to see bikes and scooters become an even larger force within the Lyft multi-modal world (especially amid the pandemic). I hope you are doing well and staying safe!
Thank you fir sharing your story in overcoming, determinism to get where you are. Congratulations and lot of sucess!
Thank you so much, @leilamartinsca! I have been so lucky throughout my career to have support from incredible women who believed in me, so am thrilled to pay it forward in this way.
What are the top 3 reasons drivers use the Lyft platform? How does Lyft recruitment pivot during the pandemic? What are the reasons drivers leave? What are Things your drivers do differently from Uber?
Hi Anneliese - these are some great questions! Some thoughts on each (keep in mind this is largely based on my experiences).What are the top 3 reasons drivers use the Lyft platform?Our drivers use the Lyft platform as it is a flexible way to earn money in either their own vehicle, or one they are able to rent through Lyft. By driving through Lyft they are able to take advantage of misc. benefits and incentives we provide our drivers with, and know that they are being supported by several safety measures we have built into the app and experience. How does Lyft recruitment pivot during the pandemic?I'm assuming this is referring to employee recruitment - the company is still hiring into critical roles needed for our business to continue to operate and grow.What are the reasons drivers leave?Drivers can leave the platform for many reasons - something has changed in their personal life (a job or school change), no longer having access to a vehicle, or maybe they no longer need the supplemental income Lyft was providing. During Covid, we have spoken to many drivers who left the platform for understandable safety concerns. We have launched several new initiatives to try and protect our drivers and riders.What are Things your drivers do differently from Uber?Several of our drivers do drive for Uber and/or other rideshare companies as well, but I am biased and think our drivers are extremely friendly :) We also have several systems in place to ensure drivers on our platform can provide a safe ride experience!
Hi Emily,I live in California where Lyft threatened a reverse boycott. Lyft wanted to stall the provisions of essential services to avoid paying an equivalent of what you make to those who truly drive their business (pun intended). I was working for a national corp that forced employees to strike for over a month and it was a rough experience for me. I was even trained in a new position to become a “scab” to pressure my own coworkers to come back to work. Morally, how are you feeling to be the part of the workforce that is treated “better” than those protesting and suing the company? There are two sides to the story for driver pay. Do you identify with one more than another?
Hi Norene - thank you so much for the question, and for sharing your experience! I imagine that was extremely tough and frustrating on so many levels. It has certainly been a rollercoaster period for our teams and drivers in California! I am based in the Mid-Atlantic so I have not been involved in the decision making here. I can confirm that as you have pointed out there are two sides to this, and many of our drivers across the country (in fact, the vast majority) drive part time, and having that flexibility is a big part of why they drive for Lyft. I wouldn't say I identify with a 'side' in this specific scenario, because as a local leader a big part of my job has always been supporting drivers and responding to their concerns (often face to face). I am proud to work for a company that is prioritizing doing what is right for our driver community while also being able to carry out our important mission, and I know our leaders are continuing to work on this.
Hi Emily! Noob question from me, what does a marketing operations manager do? Thank you for taking the time to educate!
Hi Jess! It's a good question - titles can be unnecessarily complicated and confusing.I suspect Market Operations means different things at different companies, but at Lyft it's the division of the local team that is focused on logistics, strategy and business development. Some examples of what that means in my day to day: supporting new street closures set up to encourage social distancing with special zones for rideshare drop-offs; maintaining good relationships with our local airports; building partnerships with local business owners who want to subsidize rides for their employees; and monitoring our operating budget to ensure we are able to continue growing our footprint in the region. I am responsible for knowing what is happening in transit and infrastructure of our region, so we can proactively address problems and opportunities that could impact our drivers and riders. As the Manager of this group, I also spend a lot of time thinking about how I can continue developing the amazing women on my team!
Hi @emilyellis! I'm interviewing for the Senior Market Operations Associate role based out of Boston next week and I would love to learn more about your role and time at Lyft!
What is your day-2-day like?I’m a current MBA candidate who is pivoting from “operations/project management” into brand management. In your eyes is there any cross-over between the two functions?