By: Hailey Temple

Bence Oliver, Syracuse University alumnus and director of strategic sourcing at eBay, will deliver the 2013 convocation speech at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) on May 11.

“Bence embodies many qualities we hope our graduates will relate to,” said Barbara Settel, director of alumni relations and annual giving at the iSchool. “He is passionate about people and improving lives through his work, and as we say in the iSchool, ‘remember the user’. He thinks outside the box as we encourage our students to do.”

Oliver graduated from the iSchool in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in Information Management and Technology, and worked briefly at Accenture and Intel. He was inspired to find a way for large corporations to benefit financially while helping the environment. Oliver followed his passion and transitioned to his position at eBay, where he was allowed a sabbatical to explore these possibilities and devote his efforts to the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF).

SELF is a non-profit organization working to promote, develop, and facilitate rural solar electrification in developing countries. Oliver’s work with SELF helped create a solar-powered irrigation system for village families to grow and sell their own food in Benim. Since returning from his trip, Oliver joined eBay’s Green Team, an initiative to promote green practices within eBay, practice community outreach and support government legislation. He is also the founder of eBay's Sustainability and Renewable Energy Organization. 

Julie Deutsch, an iSchool senior and class marshal, believes the senior class will be inspired by the fellow iSchool graduate. “Knowing that Bence was an alumnus of the iSchool will automatically connect the students to his story. They will see the impact of information technology in today's world. He will provide the students with another example of how to use their degree out in the real world. Students will see that no matter where they end up, they can also tie in the community.”