“I'm at the intersection of local government, mobile technology, and the transportation industry.”
Erik Weber '07 appreciates the ability to get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. His journey from the Transylvania campus to the streets of Washington, D.C., is a good example.
While a graduate student in public administration at Morehead State University, Weber was nominated for a Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF), a program that matches graduate students with federal employment opportunities. It was through this program that Weber landed a position with the Department of Transportation (DOT) upon completing his master's degree in 2009.
“I was ridiculously well-prepared for graduate school,” he says.
He spent three years at the DOT’s Federal Transit Administration, helping create a more efficient transit system for citizens in need by working with federal agencies—like Medicaid—that provide other services to the community but aren’t necessarily experts in transportation. By helping these disparate agencies work more cooperatively, Weber made it easier for folks to get a ride when needed.
“Different programs need to interact in such a way that transportation at the local level can be more efficient and simpler for the customer,” he explained.
In November 2012, Weber left the federal government and became director of operations at Uber, a technology start-up firm. Uber has developed a mobile app that lets consumers use their smart phones to request a car, limousine, or taxi service, so it will be waiting for them when they step out to the curb.
In his new position, Weber is putting his math skills to good use.
“My work at DOT was almost entirely public policy, where my political science major was primary. At Uber I do data analysis, which draws on my math major, and make refinements to the app, which requires some computer science expertise.”
But that doesn’t mean his rich background in policy doesn’t come in handy. The developers at Uber still have to negotiate local transportation regulations. For instance, although Uber is in more than 30 cities worldwide and has car service in New York City, it hasn’t cracked Manhattan’s huge taxi market because of outdated regulations.
In those situations, Weber now sits on the other side of the regulatory table.
“I’m no longer the public administrator as I was at DOT, but I now deal with DOT as well as local governments on a regular basis,” he said.
Weber’s wide-ranging academic experience at Transylvania has helped him slip seamlessly from the world of policy and government functionaries to the fast-moving, creative world of a technology start up.
“I had two majors, one minor, and almost a second minor. I was able to study all of these things, and do music, and be in a fraternity, and do volunteer work, which you can’t do if you’re not in a small environment where it’s easy to be involved.
“Many things I got to study, my colleagues never did, so I’m able to go between a lot of different groups and talk to a variety of people.”