Uber Executive Austin Geidt Talks Getting Sober At Age 20

By McCarton Ackerman 12/04/15

Austin Geidt almost saw her career derailed by addiction before it even began.

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Austin Geidt has climbed the ranks at Uber, rising from a marketing intern to one of the company’s top executives. But despite her professional accomplishment, she believes that her greatest accomplishment in life is getting sober.

Speaking publicly for the first time about her drug addiction, the 30-year-old spoke during Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in San Francisco about how she spent the first half of her 20s fighting to regain control of her life. Although she declined to go into details about the specifics of her addiction, such as her drug of choice, Geidt said she first sought help at age 19 and got sober the following year.

After a few years of “reintegrating,” she graduated from UC Berkeley at age 25. Geidt joined the Uber team shortly after, but admitted feeling out of place on the bottom rung with people years younger than her.

“It was so important to get that part of my life right so I could get the rest of my life right,” she said. “[But] I felt behind as a 25-year-old intern,” she said.

However, Geidt credited the tools she learned in recovery with helping her thrive at Uber. She said the process of getting sober helped her learn how to take small steps in tackling big problems, taught her how to be direct with herself and others, and gain insight into what’s most important.

“I immersed myself at Uber,” she said. “But I am also able to step back considerably. I love what we do, but I also have perspective on what’s really important to me.”

Geidt said she wants to continue sharing her story because she believes it can serve as a sign of hope for other young people struggling with addiction.

“[Uber] is not the proudest thing I’ve done. I’m more proud of being sober,” she said. “If I had the chance to go back [and] change anything about my journey, I wouldn’t.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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