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.
eBay employee Henry De Sousa is a champion of our impact-driven efforts to make a difference in the world and establish eBay as a truly special place to work in Europe and around the globe. Driven by a lifelong passion to help others, he heads a number of employee volunteer efforts in our Switzerland office, including our Swiss Global Impact Team, which organizes local volunteering and giving initiatives. Currently, Henry is working with a nonprofit to connect eBay volunteers to local entrepreneurs from migrant communities in a mentorship program.
In addition to his work as an executive assistant to our EU chief financial officer, Henry is dedicated to developing the next generation of our workforce and fostering diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. He steers our EU finance internship program and leads our Swiss United in Pride chapter and global Movember event programming to raise mental health awareness.
By leading these impact-driven initiatives, Henry exemplifies our company’s purpose to empower people and create economic opportunity. We recently sat down with him to discuss his work over the past four years — and how he manages to find time for it all.
Why are you so passionate about volunteering and service-oriented work at eBay?
My love for community work comes from a variety of different places: my family, friends, school, church. Community service has been part of my life since my childhood in Brazil, when I would serve hot soup to folks who were impacted by monsoons, participate in charity singing events and go door-to-door collecting donations of rice to create care packages for people in need. I think we can always do more to help improve other people’s lives. If we have the opportunity and the means to empower our communities, why shouldn’t we? It’s this same passion that inspires me to encourage others as well, to identify their own passions and fold those issues — environmental conservation, animal welfare, poverty, migration — into the work of our Global Impact Teams at eBay.
Over the past year, you’ve played a large role in rallying our Swiss colleagues to mentor entrepreneurs served by our eBay Global Give grantee, Capacity, which works to support migrant families and refugee communities. Can you share more about the mentorship program, and why it is important?
The Swiss Impact Team and our wider employee base really fell in love with Capacity as a charity whose main objective is to empower and enable entrepreneurialism among migrant and displaced communities; we had over 30 eBay colleagues join our informational session with Capacity. Capacity embodies eBay’s commitment to giving back to the community by supporting migrants who are eager to restart their lives and become entrepreneurs, and this resonates a lot with our employees, who have helped select Capacity as a Global Give grantee for the past two years.
The mentorship program is structured in phases, with the first phase being centered around getting to know our mentees, learning about their ambitions and sharing our own experiences to help them innovate their business models. The second phase entails formal coaching in areas like creative thinking, planning and organization, communications and financial modeling. Right now, Capacity is entering into this second phase, so we will be providing background support for the next couple of months until our entrepreneurs are ready to hit the market.
Henry volunteering at Social Fabric in 2019 (left) and Intern Day in 2018 (right)
June is Pride Month, and the theme for eBay’s celebrations this year is #TogetherInvincible. As the leader of our Swiss United in Pride chapter, how does Pride and our 2021 theme resonate with you?
Pride Month is a celebration of the achievements that we have made throughout the years and the platform that we now have to proudly proclaim who we are. eBay has worked hard to be for everyone by cultivating a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community — the visibility of transgender leaders at eBay is truly amazing — and this month is an opportunity to celebrate those strides while looking forward to the progress still waiting to be made. For me, the most important part of Pride Month is not forgetting the past while also pursuing a brighter future for the generations to come.
The theme of #TogetherInvincible arose out of an interest from the United in Pride leadership in making Pride Month more accessible to everyone as a global effort on the part of our employees rather than limiting it to the leadership level. As a community at eBay, even though we are working from home in a virtual environment, we are still together, and we can still bring so much diversity and creativity to the table.
Henry with his colleagues at eBay’s 2019 Holiday party
As someone who has dedicated so much of your time and effort toward cultivating a strong sense of belonging and connection at eBay, what does community empowerment mean to you?
It means support for everyone. There is so much diversity among the folks at eBay that it almost feels like coming home. Seeing a smile light up on my colleagues’ faces when we organize something meaningful for them, whether it’s a chocolate on their desk or a card to welcome them back from their sabbatical or a gift in the mail during this pandemic when we’re all working from home, is what motivates me to be there for eBay employees across the globe. When we are able to care for everyone and act with integrity, we are enabling them to resolve issues, to feel better about themselves, to progress, to finalize a project, to share knowledge. We are teaching each other to build into both our internal network of employees and the broader community outside through volunteering or raising awareness for global issues.
You hold at least four different leadership roles with the company. How do you deliver with impact while balancing your professional and personal life?
As the executive assistant to Maurizio D’Arrigo, our EU VP and CFO, maximizing his productivity and streamlining his calendar is my top priority, but whenever I have a free moment, working on impact and mentorship projects brings joy to my day. So that is how I prioritize everything: my team comes first, and then side projects and everything else falls into place behind.
What motivated you to take the lead on our global Movember efforts?
Before joining eBay, I was a personal fundraiser for Movember, and I loved the idea of growing a mustache to bring awareness to mental health. When I joined eBay, I had the opportunity to meet with the leaders of the organization, and they had a proposal for us to collaborate and bring awareness to the corporate level. For the first few years, eBay’s Movember initiatives were organized locally, but last year, as the Swiss office was brainstorming ways to integrate Germany into our regional campaign, members of the leadership team encouraged us to expand Movember into a global initiative.
During that first year, we were just planning to spread awareness of the campaign, but we were so moved by the way people were bravely sharing why Movember meant so much to them. The enthusiastic reception also helped to relaunch ACCESSIBILITY, which is our accessibility Community of Inclusion, and Movember is now one of its main events with the goal of broadening the conversation around mental health to a global scale.
Henry preparing for the Swiss office’s Thanksgiving lunch in 2018
Reflecting on the almost four years that you’ve been at eBay, what has been your favorite experience or memory?
Because the Swiss office is so multinational and inclusive, we have a tradition of celebrating the various national holidays of our employees’ native countries. In 2018, we partnered with the senior leadership in Switzerland to organize a Thanksgiving lunch so that all of our colleagues could experience this American holiday. One of our senior leaders cooked the turkey, and we’d see him throughout the day, walking from meeting rooms to the kitchen to marinate the turkey in between his busy agenda. We transformed our auditorium into a dining room with candles and decorations, and we set up a large table where all of the employees — over 80 people in total — could share a meal together. That day stays in my memory because I could see so much joy and community in the room. Right now, with COVID-19 being so present and taking away that opportunity to come together, it puts into perspective the importance of treasuring these moments of togetherness.