Life at eBay

Meet the 2022 Luminary Who Is Leading With Her Heart

Rachel Chen, eBay News Team

Claudia Putzer reflects on the ways inclusivity and curiosity have shaped her leadership style as a People Business Partner.

Our employees represent a mosaic of thoughts, backgrounds and personalities across the world. This series shares the voices of employees as they tell their own eBay stories.

Every year, eBay celebrates our amazing employees and their commitment to exemplify our purpose and beliefs while inspiring others to do the same. This year, we recognized 37 Luminaries from across the globe, from each region, representing every level of our organization. 

Among this year’s winners is eBay Germany’s Claudia Putzer, who exemplifies what it means to be an inclusive leader who delivers with impact. A business partner on the People team supporting the Global Markets organization in Europe, she recently celebrated her 20th eBay work anniversary. In the words of colleague Michelle O'Doherty, Claudia “offers a different perspective, is never slow to speak up and makes sure we keep the customer front and center so that we can be for everyone.” 

We recently caught up with Claudia to discuss her Luminary award, how she fosters a culture of inclusiveness and why she leads with questions instead of answers.

What led you to start working at eBay 20 years ago and what drew you to the People team? 

I first joined eBay as an online service correspondent with the customer experience team in Germany. I quickly fell in love with the people at eBay, especially their openness to new things, and found opportunities to further develop through every stage of my career. 

After 15 years in different roles with the customer experience team — from process and tools trainer to people leader supporting teams across different countries — I became interested in transitioning onto the People team. I don’t have a university background, but more than a degree in HR, the People team was looking for someone with an understanding of people leadership and change management support. And I fit the bill. 

Working on the People team has been amazing, since I get to witness the ways in which people are growing and improving, knowing that I’ve been a small part of their eBay journey. It was incredibly fulfilling to develop teams and individuals as a people leader on our global customer experience team, and doing so on the People team has been another exciting learning opportunity during these past five years. 

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In your nominations, one colleague said you personified what it means to “be for everyone.” What does that mean to you? 

My goal is really to “be for everyone.” It all goes back to my customer experience background: I wanted to make a change in how we service our customers. As a People Business Partner, my customers are now eBay employees rather than buyers and sellers. Still, I sometimes may need to be strict in enforcing certain guidelines, so I strive to do so in a way that is kind and makes our employees feel listened to. I’m pleased to know that my efforts have been seen by others. 

How do you use inclusivity to empower people in your day-to-day work on the People team?

When I am asked a question or get a request, I will usually come back with another question before I answer. I’m always curious to hear other people’s points of view before sharing my own — after all, I don’t know everything. I believe that people often just need a sounding board or another question to uncover how they want to move forward. That’s how I try to empower other eBayers. Instead of assuming that I know what others want and jumping in with how I would handle the situation, I let them guide the conversation and offer another perspective when needed to help them express themselves. 

“Let’s continue to be curious and pursue growth — together, we can make great things happen.” – Claudia Putzer 

Since you work across eBay’s European markets, what is the most challenging part of supporting such a diverse and international employee base?

Navigating the subtle differences among the global teams can be an eye-opening task because on the one hand, we share common experiences as eBayers, but at the same time, there are essential distinctions that I have to negotiate. For example, different cultures have different ways of sharing feedback and different concerns to consider when implementing People strategies.  

It’s challenging work, but it’s also exciting. One of my strengths is being a fast learner, and I really enjoy the opportunity to figure out how to accommodate a multitude of diverse backgrounds and local requirements. I’ve found that it’s very important to start not with an assumption, but with a question and see what works, where we can adapt and where we can go ahead. 

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What skills have you learned from working at eBay that you’ve also transferred to your everyday life? 

At eBay, I’ve learned how important it is to know when to focus on the little details versus when to take a high-level view. It’s a skill that often comes in handy for my photography, since I’m able to weigh the big picture against specific features that make a landscape worth capturing and find the focal point. 

Similarly, being flexible and knowing how to concentrate my efforts so that I can go wherever I am needed is valuable both inside and outside of work. I have a motorcycle, and I rode from Berlin, through Amsterdam, to Scotland with my parents a few years ago. I also love to garden, and I’ve found that these hobbies require a willingness to be adaptable. As helpful as it is to have plans, it can also be good to try new things or explore new strategies in order to find a way forward. 

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As a 2022 Luminary, you were recognized for your ability to disrupt, to try new things and spark great ideas. Looking ahead, how do you hope to innovate and continue to inspire at eBay? 

I truly believe that eBay is a great place to work, where you are invited to share your perspectives and speak up. So, I would encourage everyone, especially new employees, to share their thoughts on how our teams can continue to grow. Sometimes, it can be easy to turn away ideas because we’ve tried them before in the past, but I would like to challenge people not to shy away from trying things again with new voices and perspectives. Let’s continue to be curious and pursue growth — together, we can make great things happen.