eBay's Most Interesting Jobs: Sneaker Guru
By: Francesca Hellebrandt, eBay News Team
A behind the scenes look into sneakerhead Jeff Chan’s career as Senior Category Manager of Shoes, where he delivers the best product and pricing that meet our customers needs.
Jeff Chan grew up in the Michael Jordan era—a time during which fans not only emulated what the luminary was doing on the court, but also what he was wearing. This influence extended to other legendary NBA players Jeff admired while growing up, such as Penny Hardaway, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Vince Carter. With the best sneakers on the court, these were the pivotal players that inspired Jeff to begin his lifelong passion of collecting, buying and selling vintage sneakers. Today, Jeff’s official title at eBay is Senior Category Manager of Shoes. Essentially, he makes sure eBay has the best selection of new, unique and trending footwear. For Jeff, it’s more than a job—it’s his lifelong passion, turned into a career.
Once a new trend comes on, I have to evolve with my sellers.
“I’m very fortunate to have a job that intersects directly with what I’ve loved since the age of 13—sneakers!” says Jeff.
While sneakers remain Jeff’s personal specialty, he and his team touch the entire gamut of men’s and women’s shoes. From comfort shoes to dress shoes, it is important that category managers are not only experts on what’s listed for sale on eBay, but also on emerging trends.
“Once a new trend comes on, I have to evolve with my sellers, and if I don’t, the business will lose traction in this space,” explains Jeff. “At eBay we have the privilege to pivot our strategy. By staying attuned to what our customers are looking for, that is how we protect what customers want.”
As Senior Category Manager of Shoes at a global ecommerce company, there is no typical day at the office. Ultimately Jeff’s job is to make sure customers can find exactly what they’re looking for when they come to the site. On a given day, Jeff might be helping a major seller of collectible sneakers move a bulk buy of Yeezys or Jordans, or planning special deals with 3rd party sellers of top brands. The next day, Jeff could be talking to an influencer about partnering on a charity opportunity or sitting down with his team to strategize on ways to grow the Women’s Heels and Boots business. The job also requires that he work with the site and marketing teams on events like “eBay Brand Spotlights” to drive awareness to eBay’s brands, specific types of shoes and exclusive deals.
Apart from his everyday responsibilities, Jeff has worked on a number of exciting initiatives during his time at eBay—the most rewarding to date being this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. This year, eBay partnered with HighSnobiety to host an event showcasing the rarest sneakers and streetwear from its marketplace. Referred to as the All-Star Weekend Drop, a series of 23 limited-time drops were announced just in time for tip-off. Jeff’s team partnered with influencers like sneakerhead Jacques Slade, artist Kickstradomis, stylist Aleali May and NBA player P.J. Tucker to auction off items from their own personal collections for charity and share what sneakers, streetwear and the culture mean to them. Not only were the most popular releases, game-worn grails and rare basketball memorabilia made shoppable at eBay.com/AllStarDrop, proceeds benefited Project Fit, an organization that creates new opportunities for kids to be active and live a healthy lifestyle.
“The event, the atmosphere, the talent—everything was better than any of us could of imagined,” says Jeff. “To see these ultra rare sneakers and streetwear pieces in one place was mind-boggling. Add on a room full of of people who share the same passion and love for the culture—it took the event to another level.”
When asked what advice he’d give to someone seeking a similar role, he shares that one’s skills and ability to learn are transferable to any job, regardless of their background and expertise.
“I came to eBay with a strong finance and planning background, but it was my knowledge and different outlook on a business that made someone take a chance on me,” he explains. “If you show a strong curiosity for the area you own and challenge the status quo in a positive way, you’ll be able to land a job that is fulfilling and continues to teach you, no matter how seasoned you are in your career.”
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