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Inside View: eBay

Lynsey Douglas, Talent Acquisition Manager at eBay, tells us about the company's MBA program, keeping an eye on Amazon, and the best things she ever found on eBay.

Founded in 1995, eBay remains one of the world’s most recognizable Internet companies. Specializing in consumer-to-consumer online auctions, eBay was a quick success and now employs around 27,700 people around the world.

A select number of those employees are brought on board by Talent Acquisition Partners like Lynsey Douglas. Having worked in recruitment for JPMorgan and Amazon, Lynsey joined eBay in 2012 and is currently based in Germany.

How did you first get started with eBay?
I actually worked with Amazon for about five years on their MBA recruitment. I was contacted about a potential role with eBay and I started with the company at the beginning of 2012.
 
The position is very international. I’ve been based in Germany since I started, but there’s quite a lot of travel to Switzerland, the Czech Republic, France, the UK, and other EMEA offices.
 
Is there a distinction between eBay and eBay Marketplaces?
We have eBay, Gumtree, and other websites that are part of the eBay group. However, we try and maintain a more holistic approach in terms of our MBA hiring, especially when we go on campus. 
 
Given eBay’s tech roots, what do you generally hire MBAs for?
I wouldn’t really say that eBay is a technology company. We see ourselves more as a marketplace. The bulk of our work is in online marketing, more traditional brand marketing, and business development. It’s in managing things like big television ad campaigns. In Marketplaces, we’ve become very interested in merchant development and commercial development roles.
 
Are you looking for candidates with a tech or software background?
For some roles, sure. For example, we have advertising roles that are really tech-based, since a lot of our advertising is online. A lot of senior roles touch on technical aspects as well. So having a tech background is certainly useful, but it’s not the be all and end all.
 
We’re very keen on candidates with a marketing and product management background for our MBA recruiting. Having a pure tech background before finishing an MBA would be a good advantage, but we don’t require a tech or software background in our candidates.
 
As a Talent Acquisition Manager, how would you describe an average day at work?
Much of my day is spent screening candidates by phone, assessing applications, and doing forward planning in terms of what is needed. I deal with finance and budgets for our work reaching out to MBA students. We attend events and connect with students and staff. I also do a lot of travelling.
 
Do you work closely with any business schools to find your potential hires?
To be honest, we’re still in the early stages of ramping up our MBA program. As we intend to ramp our program through 2013, we don’t have a shortlist of business schools yet. We’re still establishing relationships and potential partnerships. Last year, we focused on places like London Business School, INSEAD, and SDA Bocconi.
 
What kind of career progression would be available to a new MBA hire at eBay?
We don’t have a structured MBA program: no rotation of six months in this office or in that office. Maybe towards the end of this year, we will have a more structured program in place. But eBay moves so fast and there are so many things coming up all the time that we believe we can find good performers who will be able to progress naturally through the process. 
 
Who are your biggest competitors? Which firms do you watch closely?
Amazon, for sure. We have a very different business model, but in terms of competing for MBAs, Amazon is a big competitor. Other e-commerce providers also count, and there are usually some smaller ones in each country. 
 
Is there any particular skill or quality that you look for in a candidate’s CV or during her interview? Is there anything that potential candidates should study up on?
In terms of hard skills, we are attracted by anyone with a background in enterprise sales, business development, and digital marketing. A degree in digital marketing, followed by an MBA, would be very attractive, as eBay is an e-commerce company.
 
Anyone from our top competitors, whether from product management, tech, or business development, would also be a good fit, given their experience and knowledge.
 
In terms of soft skills, we look for action-oriented people who seem capable of coping in a fast-paced environment. Multi-tasking is a good skill, as we will be asking people to juggle multiple priorities at the same time. Candidates should be excited and willing to progress, as we’re looking for MBAs who can serve as the next generation of leaders at eBay.
 
What’s the best perk you get from working at eBay?
We're a modern and fun organization. We don’t have a big corporate feel yet. You walk in and see right away that eBay is a more laid back work environment. There’s a foosball table and chocolate in the offices.
 
We work with really smart people, so you’ll be intellectually stimulated all the time. The foosball table and everything else allows our people to walk away from their desks from time to time and interact on a personal basis.
 
We believe that allowing people to take the occasional break will stimulate creativity and productivity because people return to their desks refreshed. They feel more valued in the organization. 
 
What’s your favorite eBay find ever? 
I’ve bought all kinds of things on eBay. You can go on and find something you didn’t even set out to buy in the beginning.  Probably scary Halloween costumes. Although I’ve also gotten everything from shoes to vacuum cleaners online!          

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