eBay’s Most Interesting Jobs: Structured Data Expert
By: Francesca Hellebrandt, eBay News Team
A look into Era Johal’s career as a senior product manager at eBay, where she uses structured data to organize eBay’s 1.3 billion listings.
How does eBay organize its 1.3 billion listings worldwide? Meet the Marie Kondo of eBay: Era Johal. Buyers and sellers rely on Era, a senior product manager, to make sure their inventory has a tidy, dedicated place to be found across eBay’s millions of shelves in 190 markets.
To do this, Era and her team use the power of structured data models and services to organize and label the numerous items listed on eBay. Their work relies on building a common language and classification for seller listings.
Why is this important? Buyers and sellers don’t always use the same language. A seller’s self-described “maxi dress” might be missed in a buyer’s search for a “a long dress.” Structured data services help fill in the gaps. Just like the KonMari method, Era ensures that every listing is classified and its language is structured to improve its findability.
As a former ontologist, classification is Era’s expertise. By organizing category shelves and seller language, Era helps buyers find what they're looking for and helps sellers highlight the uniqueness of their store offerings.
In her day-to-day role, Era conducts category research and then finds ways to scale findability for even the smallest category of listings. On top of that, she investigates ways to automate classification for sellers and spends time working with partners in search, selling and buying to make sure structured data benefits their site features.
“Our team is obsessed with data-powered discovery,” she said. “We keep things structured so search results are relevant and selling classification is painless.”
What keeps Era motivated? Powering inclusivity with technology. Structured data helps Era’s team ensure everyone’s version of perfect has a space on eBay’s marketplace.
“How do you make sure you have equal representation for a vintage sewing machine and the latest iPhone?” she said. “Our platform is only as diverse as our shelves, and it’s our job to keep our marketplace a level playing field for all our sellers.”
Era’s work focuses on ensuring eBay’s language is inclusive for its listings and represents all parts of eBay’s community. On eBay’s global marketplace, the goal is to empower all sellers by giving them the tools to reach our 182 million buyers around the world.
For Era, being a global citizen is key for product managers in this space. With a background in anthropology and economics, Era was hired for her ability to combine her quantitative and qualitative skills. By linking user empathy with eBay’s business objectives and scale, Era was the ideal candidate for the job.
Era’s advice for those seeking a similar role to hers is to be comfortable with the imperfect, humanistic facet of machine learning like natural language processing, classification and clustering.
“Models need a combination of art and science to work well because there is no perfect taxonomy,” she said. “Be ready to take a user-centered approach to organizing information — it should spark joy!”
Interested in joining our team? Find your perfect role, and help change how the world shops and sells on eBay.