eBay’s legal director for EMEA retail standards and logistics Rubya Ramjahn speaks to The Lawyer about launching their BAME community of inclusion in 2015 and how this initiative has created a culture of togetherness and better understanding of what is important to other colleagues.

You founded the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic Community of Inclusion at eBay UK in 2015.  What developments have you seen since?

BAME as a community of inclusion at eBay UK provides a platform for conversation around race and ethnicity.  We work closely with our leaders on how we look at diversity and inclusion and provides feedback on ways, measures and policies that could be adopted to provide a fair and inclusive work environment.  Above all, BAME brings people together through the celebration of many cultural events like Chinese New Year, Eid, Black History Month, Diwali etc.  Through these moments, there is a much better understanding of what is important to each other culturally and our colleagues generally feel closer to each other.  I believe the formation of an employee resource group like BAME (amongst many others we have at eBay) not only enables like-minded people to come together to work on a cause that they are passionate about, it also enables us as a company to focus, prioritise and progress with important goals.

It has been more than a year since a lot of us have had to work from home.  How did eBay meet employee needs and requirements in the shift to home working?

Rubya Ramjahn
Rubya Ramjahn

After a year, am sure a lot of us feel the video conferencing and laptop fatigue.  Our company has been great in checking on team health from time to time and ensuring that the wellbeing of our staff is taken care of.  We encourage people to take calls outdoors, ask all managers to be flexible in managing their teams and recently, within Europe, our leaders have ensured that we have screen-free time by blocking an hour out from our calendars so we can take time out for a short walk, do some exercise or have a proper lunch with family to refresh.  We also stay connected with everyone in the office by organising different events from cookalongs, comedy shows, indoor gardening and aboveall, sending around gift hampers now and then to bring surprises to colleagues’ front doors.

As the lead lawyer of eBay delivery experience and cross border trade in Europe, how has the pandemic impacted the delivery of goods at eBay?

During the pandemic, and especially during national lockdowns, everyone shops much more online.  We have seen a huge increase of transactions and hence deliveries on our platform.  As a team, we work closely with carriers and logistics service providers to understand how the pandemic has impacted their services and ensure that our users are well-informed of any changes and what to expect when they shop online.  We also launched a few initiatives to reduce the need for our users to go out to deliver items for example by offering price match for parcel collection services to drop offs so they can sell safely on our platform.

You were an IP/IT lawyer by training, how did you become specialised in delivery and cross border trade?

I have always had a great interest in tech and online businesses.  When I joined eBay in Hong Kong in 2008, I made a deliberate decision to move away from being an IP/IT specialist and to gain more exposures and experience in the many different facets of an online business.  I come from Hong Kong which is a small city but very famous for its international trade and am always interested in ways to manage a supply chain and ensure that goods arrive our customers timely and safely.  All online shoppers would agree that delivery is one of the most important aspects in an online shopping experience.  With the huge volume of goods going through our platform every day, our projects and initiatives are always innovative and complex.  I enjoy the intellectual challenges that this area of business brings immensely.  If I can give one piece of advice to young lawyers, it’s to keep an open-mind to the opportunities around you because the world is changing so quickly that you may find yourself in an area of law or business that you may not have even thought about a couple of years ago!

Tell us 3 things that are on your bucket list

  1. To go and watch US Open in person (and hopefully able to see Djokovic playing as well). This is the only Grand Slam I have not been to yet
  2. To have a dog
  3. To re-design my daughter’s bedroom so that it provides a fun but organised space for her