Future 50
A New Generation of Leaders Has Arrived

For helping to change how—and where—people eat

Since landing at food delivery platform DoorDash in 2015 as its 70th employee, A. Toby Espinosa has surmounted a steady stream of challenges. “I can learn really quickly by drinking from huge fire hoses,” he says. 

First, Espinosa helped to launch the on-demand app in three North American cities. Then as the company’s vice president of business development, he built a 120-person team across the United States, Canada and Australia while inking partnerships with some of the biggest names in the food biz: McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Taco Bell, Dunkin’ and Little Caesars. Amid COVID-19 lockdowns, the team added convenience stores, including 7-Eleven, and grocers like Albertsons to the network.

Those efforts helped DoorDash’s first-quarter 2021 revenue hit a record US$1.1 billion—and the company now boasts more than 20 million customers who have access to nearly 450,000 restaurants and stores.

Q&A: A. Toby Espinosa on curiosity and zooming out

What’s the one must-have skill to succeed in The Project Economy?

Curiosity. If you’re curious, you’ll work hard to figure out the problem and you won’t rest until you’ve solved it.

What’s the biggest challenge facing young project leaders right now?

The ability to zoom out and see the big picture—and ensure everyone is pursuing the right North Star.

How did the pandemic change the way you manage projects?

It made me more aware of meeting people where they are—both physically and intellectually. If you’re all in the same office and the same environment, you don’t think about that as much. However, when someone goes into their own environment, you have to think about what’s going on in that environment.

Advice to My (Even) Younger Self

We asked the Future 50: What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?

Love what you do, stay curious and don’t forget that to climb the mountain, you have to take the first hill. —A. Toby Espinosa

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We asked the Future 50: What are you reading—and recommending—right now?

The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William Thorndike. —A. Toby Espinosa