Finding a perfect fit on eBay

When Carol Dombrowski heard that Internet phenomenon eBay was looking for a new "manager of global people development," she knew that was the job for her.

"Effectively lead eBay's worldwide training, communications, and reward and recognition teams . . . I told myself there was no one in the world better than I would be at this position," says Dombrowski '93 (professional and technical communications).

She sent a resume and tried to follow up with a phone call. She couldn't get through. She decided that to gain attention in a company known for innovation, a more creative approach would be appropriate.

"I went to Home Depot and bought a nifty little red tool box," she says. She branded it to reflect the company's image, dubbed it the "eBay Leadership Learning Labs Manager Toolkit," and filled it with samples of her work demonstrating that she was well equipped for the job.

"I dropped it off at the front desk of eBay's Salt Lake City office," says Dombrowski. "By the time I got back to my office, the HR director was calling me to set up an interview."

She learned later that there were some 700 applicants for the job, and the company expected to hire someone with 20 or more year's experience. But in the end, eBay decided Dombrowski was, indeed, the best candidate — just as she'd known all along.

She started the new job last July, working in eBay's rapidly growing Salt Lake City center (eBay headquarters is in San Jose, Calif.). Among her tasks: developing engaging programs to attract, train, and retain the best and the brightest.

"I just love it," she says. "It is so fun to be an influential part of such a pop-culture phenomenon."

Online auction house eBay, launched in 1995, logged $12 billion in transactions in 2002. Some 52 million customers buy and sell through the portal, making eBay among the most successful Internet businesses ever. "We move very fast," she says. The average age of eBay's 850 Salt Lake City employees is 29. Because the company continues to grow and change so rapidly, "People are very empowered," Dombrowski says. "At every level of our organization, right down to customer support representatives, people are expected to make key decisions, implement process improvements, and increase member activity."

Her own background in creative marketing is a good fit. "My career has centered on growing knowledge workers," she says, "particularly Gen-Xers, understanding the way they think and giving them tools to become effective leaders."

Dombrowski moved to Salt Lake City in 1999 after falling in love with the area while visiting friends. She was recruited as director of product innovation for FranklinCovey, an international provider of effectiveness training, productivity tools and assessment services for organizations and individuals. "Now, at eBay, I have been able to come in and make a strong impact right away," she says. "It's pretty awesome, really . . . When someone will actually give you a paycheck to do not only what you were born to do but what you also love to do, you have every opportunity in the world to leave a powerful legacy."

The University Magazine, Spring 2003