Ebay: How to Sell Yourself Within Your Company

IMG_1445Josh Rossman, senior director of customer loyalty as well as Villanova in the Valley 14’ speaker, was quick to get down to business upon our late arrival at Ebay. Unlike other speakers that we have had so far, Josh spent very little time speaking about his company and instead chose to enlighten us with valuable career advice.

His presentation first started off with a picture of an iceberg, you know the one that depicts 80% of its mass underwater.  The analogy was meant to visualize how an employee’s “value” to a company was equal to their substance times their visibility. Namely it doesn’t matter how good the work is that you are doing for your company unless other people recognize it.

Mr. Rossman then went on to list around 10 common imperfections that exist in every company in some way or another. For example, the smartest and most deserving people don’t always get promoted; coworkers can often feel threatened by each other’s work; etc. Mr. Rossman offered a few simple solutions as to how to solve these problems, such as making sure your work is noticed by your superiors, and helping your threatened coworkers shine so that they feel less threatened.

My favorite career take away from the site visit was a small story that Josh told about management. A few years ago ebay decided to combine two high-level leadership positions into one role, and the two individuals being considered for the position had very different leadership styles. One would set the bar too high for his workers in an expectation that his employees would not be able to reach the expected goal, but would end up producing the desired result because they stove to reach the impossibly high bar. The other manager, on the other hand, would set the bar slightly lower than the expected average potential, in an expectation that the employees would easily overachieve. Mr. Rossman explained that even though the first manager was able to produce more units than the second, he did not get the job due to an inability to properly manage expectations. “Under commit and over deliver” was deemed the best strategy for the corporate level.

While we did not learn a lot about ebay as a company, we gained valuable insight into Ebay’s management values and how much effort they invest in developing strong intra-employee relationships. Strong management yields strong results.