Uber adds another director to its board: Flex CEO Revathi Advaithi

Connie Loizos

Uber has a new, independent board member, shows a new SEC filing: CEO Revathi Advaithi of 51-year-old Flex, which is among the world’s largest electronic manufacturers and competes against Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology.

Advaithi, a mechanical engineer who grew up in India with four sisters, was appointed to the top job in February of last year after spending roughly 10 years with the electronic manufacturing company Eaton, where she was COO and oversaw its global electrical business.

Before that, she spent six years as a VP at Honeywell.

Advaithi came to the job at a tough time. Specifically, Flex once counted among its biggest customers the Chinese company Huawei, for which it provided contract services for products like smartphones and 5G base stations. But the U.S. government last year banned U.S. firms -- and non-U.S. firms with more than 25% American components in their products -- from doing business with Huawei after it was deemed a national security risk.

Indeed, Flex, which today enjoys a market cap of $5 billion, saw its shares trading in the high teens in 2018, but they'd fallen to around $10 a share before Advaithi was brought aboard, and they have largely stay there since.

The coronavirus has also put pressure on Flex's supply chains, even while the company has been diversifying its factories. (It noted to analysts earlier this year that it doesn't have a factory in China’s Hubei province, which, at the time, was the epicenter of the virus.)

Advaithi is currently Uber's fourth female director. In February, it announced that Mandy Ginsberg had been appointed to the board.  GInsberg was CEO of the dating app company Match Group until January of this year, reportedly stepping down from the role after a tornado hit her home in Dallas and she separately underwent surgery. (Publicly traded Match Group was already expected at the time to be spun away from its majority shareholder, IAC, a maneuver that was completed yesterday.)

In 2017, under the leadership of then-CEO Travis Kalanick, Uber also appointed then Nestlé executive Wan Ling Martello to its board (Martello left Nestlé in 2018), and he appointed former chairman and CEO of Xerox, Ursula Burns.

Entrepreneur Arianna Huffington was the first woman brought into Uber's boardroom back in 2016 by Kalanick. She left her seat last year, citing the growth of her media company, Thrive Global, as the reason for her departure.

Advaithi began her career in the U.S. decades ago as a shop floor supervisor in Shawnee, Oklahoma. She took over as Flex CEO last year when its longtime chief, Michael McNamara, resigned to join the venture capital firm Eclipse.

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