Amir Vonsover has never been content to stay in one place for too long: in fact, change has been a hallmark of his career. “I get anxious when I see a horizon that’s pretty flat and goes for years and years because I’m looking for the next challenge,” he explains.
Going to law school was the result of following interests and passions that he developed during his undergraduate years. He realized he wanted to, as he describes it, “be in the trenches and be a real, practicing lawyer in a way that was interesting and got my hands dirty.” Vonsover saw no better place to pursue this than the Manhattan DA’s office, where he spent five years expanding his knowledge base as a criminal prosecutor.
One of the things that drew him to the DA’s office was its fast-paced, constantly evolving work environment. “It’s a job where every day is different, every day is exciting, every day is a learning experience,” he says. “I wanted to be a part of that, and I wanted to be challenged every day and every week and every month in a job.”
Vonsover’s time at the DA’s office sparked an interest in investigative work, and he decided to apply the skills he learned in a business context. For Vonsover, that meant entering the employment law space. He spent the next four years as a midlevel associate at Morgan Lewis, a law firm based in Philadelphia. He developed his skill set on the whistleblower and individual plaintiff side of cases, volunteering to jump on cases that interested him whenever possible. He credits three mentors—Sam Shaulson, Tom Linthorst, and Sarah Bouchard—for giving him the opportunity to work on cases with them and continue building on his previous experiences.
“I get anxious when I see a horizon that’s pretty flat and goes for years and years because I’m looking for the next challenge.”
The year before he would have been eligible to make partner at the firm, Vonsover decided he wasn’t ready to settle down. Instead, he brought himself even closer to the business aspect of his work by going in-house at eBay to identify problems and stop them before a firm could ever even be called in.
After almost seven years with the company, Vonsover is now the senior director of global employment legal and ethics. His time is largely taken up by employment- and ethics-related internal investigations, along with complicated employment issues such as leaves of absence, disability accommodations, and restructurings.
His ability to manage his wide range of responsibilities is thanks in part to his team, he says. He trusts them completely to have full autonomy over their work, which makes it easier to delegate and achieve greater efficiency. “I want the work done well for the company’s sake,” he explains. “That’s ultimately what my goal is: to do the best work for eBay. I’m lucky to have a group of folks I work with who do exactly that and care about it just that way.”
And Vonsover’s colleagues outside the company are as grateful to work with him as he is to work with his own team. “Amir is a strategic and practical problem preventer and solver,” says Brian Lee Johnsrud, partner at Curley, Hurtgen & Johnsrud. “He excels at cutting to the material facts and discerning the sometimes subtle motivations that drive employee behavior. Our firm is thankful to partner with him on a wide range of interesting and emerging employment and compliance issues.”
“The ethics team is the tip of the spear, the faces and names people can know to reach out to instead of raising concerns into an unknown void of nothingness. I feel it’s a huge success and a huge piece of eBay’s culture, and I’m really proud to be a notable part of that.”
When discussing projects he’s proud of, Vonsover points out that some of the most complicated and interesting work he does concerns the most confidential matters he oversees. “If things just go and you never hear about it, the company is not spending huge money, and things aren’t on anyone’s radar—that, in a lot of ways, is a huge success,” he says.
Still, there are successes that he’s happy to discuss. Early in 2020, eBay sold online ticket marketplace StubHub just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. The pandemic was devastating for StubHub, and Vonsover worked with the people experience team at eBay to create a plan where StubHub employees could continue to work and receive pay through eBay while StubHub did not have the revenue to pay employees.
“I just thought that was a wonderful thing to be a part of. We were working in a somewhat uncertain legal framework, and having accomplished that and gotten those folks to keep working felt very positive to me,” he says.
Vonsover seems to have found his perfect match in eBay: his role affords him new opportunities and challenges, and he’s proud to work for a company that supports small business owners. “That philosophy of people being good really runs into the company today,” he says. Working for a company that puts ethics front and center makes it easy to lead an ethics legal team, he says; he feels like he’s aligned with the company’s mission, which helps him facilitate better relationships with other employees.
“It’s not reporting to ethics, it’s talking to Amir or the other team member,” he says. “The ethics team is the tip of the spear, the faces and names people can know to reach out to instead of raising concerns into an unknown void of nothingness. I feel it’s a huge success and a huge piece of eBay’s culture, and I’m really proud to be a notable part of that.”