Got Grabbed — here’s what I learned.

I feel like I’m living straight out of one awfully surreal TV episode. Or so this is what I’ve been telling everyone lately.

March 26 was a day I don’t think we’d forget that soon. It was the day when I, along with hundreds of other Uber employees, got grabbed — literally and figuratively. One team call led to an instant breakup and an arranged marriage all at the same time.

Didn’t realize it during that time, but this was pretty much my last proper photo at the Uber Asia HQ in Singapore

All it took was a team call to make us realize that all the rumors swirling around the past weeks were true, despite our state of denial. Uber indeed was exiting South East Asia, following a merger with Grab. Uber and Uber Eats would cease to exist as services in the region and because of this, restructuring will ensue.

My Uber badge and sticker-laden laptop will be deeply missed

No one would lose their jobs, or so they said. We have been immediately placed on garden leave, pending contact from the Grab team, who they say are committed to finding us roles within the next 1–3 months that fit our experience and qualifications. While this provided some assurance, this also meant that we can either accept or reject the offer. Exploring other career options would then be a wise move at this point.

Now people might think, it’s just a job, but I don’t think we can be blamed for a disarray (oh, such an understatement!) of emotions we are now going through. Just like most people I know, we joined Uber because we had a reason to believe in the brand and what it stood for — disruption, urban mobility, the future of cities. Losing something one has invested in emotionally, mentally and even physically, not to mention their main source of livelihood, is enough reason to feel displaced, lost, confused, angry and altogether sad.

The week before the merger, I visited the Uber Japan office as part of my business trip. Little did I know it would be my last #notavacation (for now)

But as the cliché goes, everything happens for a reason. With every new episode in life comes an opportunity to obtain new learnings. While I couldn’t say I am totally done grieving over what has happened, some useful realizations have dawned on me during this rather interesting time of my life.

  1. Never underestimate the value of a great network. In the days following the merger, I was met by a barrage of messages and calls from former colleagues, associates and collaborators, along with my friends and loved ones of course. Most offered not only words of concern and reassurance, but also opened the door to potential referrals and other opportunities. Thankful for the relationships I have built through the years which have made this possible.
  2. Beyond the job hunt, invest in self-development. While I can’t be oblivious to the pressure mounting as a result of uncertainty, my days are not just relegated to exploring potential job opportunities. As I take a step back and figure out what I really want to do next, I want to take advantage of this time to ramp up my fitness routine, learn new skills and also potentially contribute what I have learned so far in the world of startups through consulting. To continue being inspired, I’m also committed to reading one book a week. I’m currently geeking out over a best-seller by executive coach Marshall Goldsmith’s titled Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts–Becoming the Person You Want to Be. I find the insights from this book totally helpful as I go through a journey of self-actualization.
  3. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. In a world where VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) is fast becoming the norm, having the right mindset is key. Staying positive during these trying times may seem like a cumbersome task, but I find that this also helps me gain a bit of perspective. I may be undergoing some transition in my life right now, but at least I still have access to my benefits and monthly salary, which helps me maintain my current lifestyle. I now also have extra time to invest in my personal pursuits while I explore what the next adventure would be. Seeing the upside to every downside is key to seeing the storm through.

As a new week, month and quarter dawns, I find myself getting ready to roll up my sleeves and facing the real deal.

While I have no certainty as to how this episode of my life would pan out, all I know now is that I’m ready to manage and take responsibility for whatever life chooses to throw at me, with a big smile on my face.

Off to the next ride!