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Uber’s savior from Harvard is leaving the company

Frances X. Frei
Frances X. Frei

So, does this mean Uber has cleaned up its act?

Frances Frei, a Harvard Business School professor who parachuted into chaos at the ride-hailing firm’s San Francisco headquarters last year, is leaving her gig as a senior vice president. She was hired to improve Uber’s culture and management practices amid months of corporate scandal.

Frei — who had been commuting between Cambridge and San Francisco — will continue running an executive education program for Uber and will launch a second such program before returning to Harvard, according to an internal company memo.

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“I’ve been inspired to see the executive education program . . . ripple through an organization at an unprecedented pace, scale, and absorption,” she wrote in a memo to employees announcing her departure.

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She joined Uber last June, when founder Travis Kalanick was still chief executive. At the time, the company had been rocked by sexual harassment allegations at headquarters, and a series of leadership gaffes by Kalanick, such as berating an Uber driver, which was captured on video.

At the time, Frei said she wasn’t there to baby-sit Kalanick, and that proved true pretty quickly: By the end of the month, Kalanick had stepped down under pressure from some of Uber’s investors.

Under his replacement, former Expedia chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber has been on something of a make-up tour, allowing drivers to collect tips from riders and agreeing to settle an intellectual property lawsuit brought by Google.