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Moran Zilberstein - software engineer on the Products team

She believes women should have a strong spine and make their voices heard, but gives the same advice to insecure men – because there’s no real difference.
This time we are happy to introduce our very own Moran Zilberstein.

– She is 38 years old and lives in Pardes Hanna
– She has a boy and a girl
– She’s been with eBay for about ten years
– She’s tried a wide variety of jobs: started out in development, went on to management, missed the dev and came back to coding.

What do you do on eBay?
I am a software engineer on the Products team. We are responsible for arranging the catalogs and for building product entities on the website, from the moment the information goes into eBay’s systems to the time it comes out as a product to the world outside, whether it’s the site users or different groups inside the company, that leverage the info for different needs. eBay’s product is complete, it has an image and all the relevant information. It’s important and it serves the sellers as well as the buyers.

How did you get to work for eBay?
My love for computers started in the military, while serving in Mamram (Center of Computing and Information Systems). After I finished my service, I went to the Technion and studied Industrial Engineering with a specialty in information systems. As a student, I worked in various positions in the field, and applied to eBay as soon as I finished my degree.  

What have you been doing in the company since?
I started out as an ETL engineer, and went on a maternity leave after about two years. When I got back, I started as an Account Manager of Motors. It was a more managerial position and was my first time as a manager. After nine months of that I took my second maternity leave (which was kind of a surprise and was received extremely well by eBay). After the leave, I asked to return to a more technical position – Integration Engineer. After a year, our team leader relocated to Singapore, and I took over for him. It was a challenging job that required me to manage people in a very heterogenic team. It was a tremendous experience in management, politics, people – things I didn’t experience before.I learned and developed and had a lot of fun, but after a year and a half, I missed the technical aspect of really “typing in the bits”. I realized I really love this part, and asked to be transferred to a development position. Ever since then, I’ve been with a few teams and experienced a variety of technologies. I really appreciate the fact that eBay has allowed me to experience a range of positions. It showed me that the company believes in me and is ready to help me develop.

What are the challenges of your position?
One of the main challenges for me is the need to come to a “collective agreement”. In software development, there are plenty of ways to arrive at the same result, and each developer thinks his way is the right one. Since we are all professionals, eBay encourages us to come to decisions together, and every person needs to explain and convince the others why they are operating the way they are. I’ve always felt that my voice is equal and resonates well, but it’s still exciting to finish writing code and wait for feedback from my peers.

The second challenge is the life-work balance. It’s important to me to be present and raise my children, and all through the years, eBay has helped me with this balance. For example, the company allowed working from home for one day, even before the coronavirus crisis. Even as a manager, I could leave the office early a few times a week, in order to pick up the kids, and then continued into the night, after they went to bed. I had this option as a manager and as a developer. It’s a flexibility that may create some challenges, but I thank eBay for the possibility to combine a career and an involved parenting.

How do you deal with the challenges of the coronavirus?
At first, when the kids studied at home, it was very challenging. My husband and I both worked from home, and at some points in time it felt like it’s going to explode. When the kids went back to their educational institutions, it was calmer, but I find working from home kind of a downer. I miss the people, the meetings and the chats. eBay really pampers us and sends us lots of packages with treats. I want to take this opportunity and thank the wonderful welfare team, which makes us really happy. When you are stuck at home and can’t see other people, suddenly getting a delivery is a great thing. Lately I moved on to a new team. It’s not ideal, working remotely. Thankfully, the new team is excellent, we met every day and they helped me transition perfectly. Generally speaking, things are working rather smoothly. I guess even production is up since we are home, but I really miss meeting in the office.

The year is 2020, but high-tech is still considered a male-dominated field.
It’s true, but I don’t see that or acknowledge that. It’s not that I am sticking my head in the sand, but I really didn’t see that sort of thing on eBay. I never felt less acknowledged or that my opinion mattered less than anyone else’s. I believe that the way you carry yourself influences they way other people see you. I am not a silent woman, and my voice will be heard whether they like it our not. I believe women should have a strong spine and let their voices be heard, just as insecure men should do. I believe you need two to tango – if women recognize themselves as equal, no one will dispute that. Bottom line is this: once you show you can do something, no one argues with you anymore. If you prove to be a professional, even the biggest chauvinist won’t be able to belittle you.

What’s your message to women who want to work in high-tech?
First, believe in yourself because it all starts with you! Second, don’t be afraid. Even if at first you meet resistance, try to understand where it’s coming from. Sometimes people feel threatened and sometimes it’s not about gender. No matter what, don’t let it block you – set your goals and go on to achieving them. I made a change when I was 35 – moving from management to development, and it wasn’t easy. I needed to learn to strip down my ego, get jaw-dropping criticism and build myself from that. I am much better today, much more secure in my coding, I believe in myself and I have the results to prove my skills. I believe that if you want to work in this field, go for it. Accept the fact that you won’t be the best at first, but you’ll learn and develop constantly. I am happy to say eBay is a heterogenic company, it’s not only looking for the best developers, but for those who understand the business, that bring in more skills other than typing on a keyboard, like social and business skills.

Why eBay?
When I started at eBay, it was because of its size and power. I love working in big companies, because it allows me to develop in many directions. It proved itself – I got to work in different positions. After a while, I realized it’s because of the people. I got to work with amazing people all through my career, and it’s fun. I wake up every morning with a smile. Other than that, it’s a company that supports employees. I feel that over the years, eBay has helped and supplied me with everything I wanted professionally, and it keeps doing that. I really enjoy working here.

Moran, thank for sharing.
We wish you many more years of learning, developing and fruitful give and take.