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Image / Agenda / Business

My Career: Senior director of global customer service at eBay Hazel Mitchell


By Sarah Finnan
06th Jun 2024
My Career: Senior director of global customer service at eBay Hazel Mitchell

Recently listed as one of Reuters trailblazing women of 2024, Hazel Mitchell is the senior director of global customer service at eBay. Celebrating 20 years of the platform in Ireland this year, Hazel has been with the company since it launched in Dublin back in 2004. Here she shares more about her career journey to date.

Did you always want to work in a customer experience role in a major global tech company?
When starting out in college, working in the technology sector had not even crossed my mind, let alone in a customer experience role.

In college, I studied… I started out studying law, definitely influenced by years of courtroom dramas on TV.

My most formative work experience was… making the decision to move from studying law to working with Aer Lingus on their customer service team. It was my first real professional role, and I loved it. I was instantly part of a team with an incredible culture. There was a huge focus on development and leadership, and it really shaped the trajectory of my career and showed me the importance of culture in the workplace.

My first real job was… with the team in Aer Lingus where I worked until 2004, moving my way from a role as a customer service rep right through to leadership positions with the contact centre. When eBay opened in Ireland in 2004, it was such an exciting opportunity to join a company with an amazing purpose and value, a fast-paced environment and a growing team. I initially joined as a team leader with a team of 40 people and instantly loved it.

The most invaluable thing I learned early on in my career was… the power of showing up, it is all about attitude and being open to growth and learning.

A common misconception about what I do is that… working in technology is all about the technology. While eBay is a technology company, it is also a company that connects people and all of my work is about people and ensuring that the buyers and sellers that we connect globally have the best experience.

Do you have a career mentor or someone you look up to/seek advice from?
Yes, I am incredibly grateful to be amongst those fortunate people who found leaders to follow who care about me and who took a chance on my emerging capabilities – none more so than my amazing leader Derek Allgood who I have worked with for almost seven years. He inspires me daily to try to be a better version of myself.

The biggest risk I have taken in my career so far is… deciding to take the role leading the North American market in eBay, based out of Salt Lake City. The role started just as Covid emerged, so moving the family stateside was put on hold while I ran the North American market from my home office. It was a great learning experience and the risk paid off and has led to my role today leading the global teams.

I wake each day at… just after 6.30am. I have been convinced by caring colleagues to ensure that health and wellness is part of my day in recent years, so I start each day with movement like an online class at home. This allows me to focus on myself, before getting started with the family and getting to spend some time with them before my girls head off to school.

I travel to work by… car. I’m lucky to live close to the office and with flexibility and remote working as part of eBay, I can get my work day started at home, avoiding the school traffic before heading into the office.

On an average workday I… am based in the office in Blanchardstown and try to make sure I am using this time for in-person meetings with colleagues. I always make sure to have lunch with colleagues in the office – we are lucky to have an incredible in-house catering team who create the most delicious healthy meals. I tend to ensure most of my 1:1 Zoom meetings are done when I am at home, allowing me to connect with our Asia, Pacific and North American teams.

I start my working day at… straight after my kids have left for school. I appreciate the flexibility that remote work allows in deciding where to base myself from week to week.

The first thing I do at work is… check in with my teams in Ireland and in other markets as they come online throughout the day.

I usually spend the first portion of the day… doing 1:1 catch-ups across the teams, either online with global markets or in person with the team based in Ireland.

I break for lunch at… around 1pm and always have lunch with the team in the office. It’s a great way to catch up with the people I work with.

The most useful business tool I use every day is… Zoom. It is an invaluable tool to connect with colleagues all over the world. While I work in tech, I am a little old school, and you will always see me with a notepad and pen scribbling notes.

I save time by… picking up the phone instead of sending an email.

I rarely get through my working day without… learning something new or finding new ways to collaborate with colleagues.

The best part of my day is… knowing that I am playing a meaningful role in delivering the future of the eBay company.

The most challenging part of my day is… as with many professionals, every day presents new challenges. It’s always busy but I make a concerted effort to stay present and listen. I’m mindful of attending to the people in front of me and the importance of empathy and the language I use to communicate.

I know it’s been a good day if… after 20 years working with eBay, I am constantly challenged and appreciate every day that challenges my assumptions.

I usually end my day… each day is different but I love to get out in nature at the end of the day for a walk with my family for a proper switch off!

Before I go to bed, I’ll… listen to an audiobook on development or leadership.

I often prepare for tomorrow by… reviewing my priorities for the next day and having a clear sight of what needs to get done.

After a long work week, I destress by… spending time with my family. A good walk outdoors does wonders for everyone.

The accomplishment I’m most proud of is… introducing remote working to Ireland in 2017 in partnership with the IDA. To this day, it is core to how eBay works across Ireland with colleagues working in every single county across the country and we have since scaled this across the globe for our GCX teammates.

If you want to get into my line of work, my advice is to… start with the customer, be open to opportunities, take the risk and be persistent!

At the moment I’m working on… the future of customer experience at eBay and investing in AI as part of our continuous investment in innovation.

Imagery courtesy of Hazel Mitchell