Business leader rising

Andrea Stairs '00As the country manager for eBay Canada, Andrea Stairs is accustomed to working 50-60 hour weeks. Her schedule may have to change a bit, now that she's the mother of a newborn son, but her intensity and commitment to the country's busiest e-commerce site are unwavering.

Since obtaining her JD/MBA in 2000, Stairs' career has been on overdrive. First, mergers and acquisitions at Ernst & Young.  Next, head of strategy at Gap Canada. A short stint as an independent consultant followed by her entry into the world of eBay. Were it not for the program, Stairs says, "I don't know that I'd be here, at this level, so soon."

A solid foundation and a jump start into her career are just a couple of the many gifts Stairs says the program gave her. A self-described "huge fan" of the dual degree, she says never intended to be a lawyer. But she frequently relies on the analytical and problem-solving skills she learned at law school, and in her position at eBay, often acts as her own lawyer as well. The company doesn't have in-house counsel in Canada.

"From a purely practical standpoint, I am reading, reviewing and writing contracts, and making strategic partnerships and deals all the time," she says. "So having an understanding of how the law works and how contracting works is extremely beneficial." Stairs also handles government relations for eBay and draws on her understanding of proposed bills, interpreting the impact they will have on her business.

But it's the class itself that Stairs seems to appreciate most.  "I made some amazing friends," she remembers. "We were very much a solid team." In many ways, they still are. Some of her peers from school are now her most trusted advisers, she says, and as ambitious for her as they are for themselves.

"What I got from the program was a sense that I could accomplish things," Stairs says. "And that's been tremendously positive in the way I approach my career."

By Karen Gross

Read other JD/MBA alumni profiles