Notes from the Road: Ich bin ein Berliner...

Richard Brewer-Hay

… Well, for a few days at least. I arrived in Berlin late last night and have just finished my first day here at the German offices of eBay.

Today was a day of meeting and greeting with different folks; putting names to faces, etc. I plan on presenting the eBay Ink overview again tomorrow morning to folks – similar to the one I gave in the UK last week and at the Ragan Conference in San Jose the week before that. I also have some other meetings lined up over the next two days that I look forward to talking about here on Ink.

eBay GermanyI spent the majority of my day with Tobias Huebscher, who is responsible for leading the European Internal Communications team for the Marketplace businesses. His job runs the gamut of internal communications. From drafting, distributing and/or publishing internal announcements, emails or stories via our intranet (iWeb), to supporting the European Management teams in their communication and communication planning, to supporting M&A communications and Global communication programs. You name it, if there is an email, video or news item that needs to be communicated to employees, he has touched it or crafted the communication at some level.

Tobias took time out of his busy day to give me a full tour of the offices here and I found it quite fascinating. First, we went across to the main hall to see the German-specific all-hands meeting. Along the way we passed the remains of the lesser known Checkpoint Bravo.

(From Wikipedia): The most important inner-German checkpoint, the Autobahn crossing at Helmstedt was called Alpha by the Western Allies. Its counterpart in the Berlin borough of Dreilinden was named Bravo. The connection between these checkpoints gained its importance from being the shortest connection between the western zones and Berlin, at 170 km (105 miles). For more information click here.

Unfortunately, the German all-hands meeting was presented in, well, German. So we didn’t last very long there. (I haven’t studied German since I was in high school and all I can remember from that is “Ich bin funfzehn”). We proceeded to the largest of the buildings that housed, among others, the Customer Service group. Like most eBay offices around the world, the naming convention of conference rooms in this building was themed. Here it was done a little differently though. Each floor had a theme (cartoons, sports, cars, etc.) and the themes were broken down geographically across Europe (for example, the cartoon floor had representatives of each European market – Tintin for Belgium, Wallace and Gromit for England, etc.). The cool thing about this was that each room was furnished entirely by items purchased by employees on eBay. I managed to take some photos HERE , HERE and HERE but all but 2 of the 30+ conference rooms we passed had meetings going on in them and I didn’t want to interrupt.

Finally, on the way back to the main building we walked by a path that resembled Sunset Boulevard (just without the empty bottles of cheap vodka and tourists taking photos of R2D2’s prints). They have set up a Walk of Stars (shown HERE – Tobias is standing to the right of the Walk) that highlights top European eBay users, that includes their feedback score from when the star was dedicated.

I have managed to set up a few key meetings over the next 48 hours and I’m looking forward to recapping my time here with you all over the course of my stay.