Arriving early for the interview, I pass Kiran Purba (TCFS 2004 March Accelerated) heading to work. He smiles and nods without realising he is about to become the subject of my interview, instantly I’m struck by his friendly demeanour.
After a quick walk around the block of Cremorne, where Uber’s head office in Melbourne is located, I return to see him playing table tennis with an Uber colleague before they start work for the day.
I walk in and meet Kiran, he gives me a warm greeting before introducing me to his team. The office is modern with large flat screen televisions, staff are dressed in casual clothing and there is even an office dog. Kiran explains this is all part of Uber’s cultural ethos of being friendly and approachable.
Kiran is Head of Marketplace Quality Uber Eats ANZ, responsible for the quality on the platform and managing anybody who participates in the Uber marketplace for both Uber Rides as well as Uber Eats.
"My job associated with my wonderful team is ensuring that the objective quality of the platform is at its best," says Kiran.
We grab a coffee and I quickly learn Kiran’s ability to hustle extends beyond playing table tennis.
"I didn't shine until I did my masters, but that’s because I really wanted to learn. I was a general hand at the theatres and that’s how I started out, I was lifting drink crates for 8 to 14 hours a day," says Kiran. ‘Many a time I still get mistaken for being an Uber driver or Uber Eats delivery partner, while I always correct people, I’m also very proud to be associated with the people who are at the core and the forefront of our platform."
Kiran’s Days at Trinity
Although Kiran enjoyed studying in the Foundation Studies program, it was at Trinity that Kiran realised he wasn't suited to pursue a science degree.
He found the further mathematics subjects challenging and "couldn't comprehend" physics. Kiran’s experience of the core subjects, however, was far more positive as he excelled at Drama, History of Ideas, English Literature and English for Academic Purposes.
"Coming in for the drama exam on the final day and to get a perfect 10, it was an absolute humbling moment, because we put in a lot of effort, it was so much fun, the story had a great plot and we got a standing ovation from the crowd."
"It was nice to learn things properly, reference and write essays properly. When an English for Academic Purposes teacher is telling you how you reference an essay or what to look for at the library, these are skills I’ve brought with me until today. The way you write, the way you speak, the way you communicate," he says.
Kiran made some of his closest friends at the College including Gunalen Mariadas (TCFS 2004), who was a best man at his wedding. He also has fond memories of the teachers, particularly Drama Lecturer, Danny Fahey
, now the Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning.
After finishing at Trinity, Kiran made the brave decision to go back to Malaysia and study a Bachelor of Business (Economics and Finance) at RMIT University in Malaysia.
"I could have stayed and gone to another university, I didn't make the cut for the University of Melbourne, but I ended up going to random classes to see what law is about, what finance is about, what economics is about."
Kiran returned to Melbourne in 2010 to study a Master of Accounting and Management, which he completed with distinction.
"I did my masters, while I was subject administrating, tutoring and lecturing. Back in the day I was working six days a week. Monday-Tuesday I had my lectures for masters, Wednesday-Thursday I would run tutorials, lecture and do academic stuff and Friday-Saturday I would work at the theatres and Sunday was the time I spent at home with my girlfriend (now wife)."
His advice to students looking to go into a start-up or any career is to be flexible and willing to pivot your degree across different industries, develop your interpersonal skills and that "every opportunity is a golden opportunity."
"If you’re a young student go do internships offer your time for free, I did that, I had to hustle."
Kiran continues to stay actively involved with the Trinity network and has attended events including the Foundation Studies 10 Year Reunion and alumni drinks in the city. If you would like to get in touch with Kiran, you can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with him on LinkedIn.