A leader’s past experiences don’t always sync perfectly with the current needs of an organization. But that is exactly what happened when Proxibid brought Ryan Downs onboard from eBay and Paypal.
“The eight years I spent at eBay was the perfect preparation for what I’m doing now,” says Proxibid President and CEO Ryan Downs. “Not only is eBay the largest online marketplace in the world, but I happened to be there during a period of tremendous change, expansion, and internationalization that prepared me very well for my role at Proxibid.”
Several aspects of the eBay experience have led Ryan to success at Proxibid. A few areas where Ryan draws from eBay DNA to contribute to the success of Proxibid include:
Ryan admits he was a relatively young leader for the responsibilities he was assigned when he started out at PayPal, which was later acquired by eBay. Not only did he take part in the formal training eBay provided, he was also placed on the executive team at the age of 32.
He discovered trust is the foundation of successful leadership. And, trust is built up slowly over time by saying what you are going to do, and then doing it—particularly in challenging times. “Every day isn’t perfect in any organization,” explains Ryan. “What I’ve found is trust requires you to get in front of a room full of employees and say ‘Hey, we were just thrown a bad situation. Here’s what happened. And, here’s how we’re going to make it through together.’”
Ryan focuses on employee engagement and believes that bringing employees into the discussion will empower them to own the challenge. When employees feel ownership as a part of the team, they will help the organization overcome the challenge and move forward.
Valuing the Customer Experience
Customer experience is much more than just building a user-friendly website. It’s about customer service. It’s about marketing interaction. And, it’s about building an organization where everyone on the team goes the extra mile to continue making the customer experience better and better. One of Ryan’s primary focus areas is paying attention to every customer touchpoint and understanding the user experience from every angle.
Managing the Organization’s Culture
An organization’s culture is a set of shared values, beliefs, and behaviors. And, Ryan believes leaders must be very intentional about the culture they want to create. If managing the organization’s culture isn’t an everyday focus, the culture will suffer. That’s why Proxibid has a cross-functional culture team that helps capture feedback, brings new ideas to the table, and communicates with the executive team. To reinforce those efforts, Proxibid gives an annual award that recognizes an employee who exemplifies Proxibid’s culture, and quarterly awards based on Proxibid’s core values.
Organizations such as eBay and Proxibid are in a unique situation because they have to manage the needs of both buyers and sellers in an open marketplace. “That reality creates an incredibly important obligation to make the transaction go well for both parties,” explains Ryan. “I learned that everything is a balancing act. There are always two sides to things like policies, tools, and pricing. You must continue to get feedback from both sides and rebalance as necessary so that the vast majority of the time both sides are happy. There’s a real art to that, and it takes a lot of focus.”
Much of Ryan’s responsibility while he was at eBay centered on managing online risk. While many of the complications associated with an online marketplace can be attributed to the sheer logistics of bringing buyers and sellers together from all parts of the world, the next major issue is trust.
“The greatest impediment to online commerce is lack of trust,” shares Ryan. “That’s why Proxibid has risk-management procedures for vetting both buyers and sellers to ensure trust is in every transaction. It is our responsibility to make sure buyers have enough faith to click ‘Buy’ or ‘Bid’ on a three-hundred-thousand-dollar piece of equipment. And, sellers must have enough faith that they will get paid.”
International Expansion and Operations
Ryan was also heavily involved in expanding international operations at eBay. He managed teams in Ireland, Germany, the Philippines, China, and other areas around the globe. Interacting with these international teams taught him a great deal about various cultures and what it would take to truly localize the brand, deal with local regulations, and manage international investment. “Proxibid is still very early in our international expansion efforts and I believe that my experience at eBay is invaluable to helping us get it right,” shares Ryan.
Proxibid’s Future is Secure
Proxibid is the beneficiary of Ryan’s eBay DNA. From his leadership skills and focus on marketplace and risk management, to his international expertise, Ryan’s foundation has primed him to lead Proxibid into the future.