How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

EBay CEO Donahoe bares his own work-life struggles

January 26, 2011: 11:42 AM ET

by Patricia Sellers

eBay CEO John Donahue

eBay CEO John Donahue

For a lot of people, their job is their life and their life is their job.

John and Eileen Donahoe decided early on that they didn't want to live that way. One night when he was 23 and already an up-and-comer at consulting giant Bain in Boston, he wrote this message to his fiancé on a Shawmut Bank slip over dinner: "I will not live the life of a management consultant."

Fast forward 27 years. Donahue, now 50, is the CEO of eBay (EBAY). Since jojning eBay from Bain in 2005 and taking over as CEO from Meg Whitman in 2008, he's been leading a turnaround and doing a pretty good job at it.

The hardest part of the turnaround seems to be complete -- Donahoe has replaced a lot of management and revived eBay's earnings growth and its stock price. So now, he says, he is aiming to make eBay a model company for developing women executives who, well, want a life besides their jobs.

On Monday night in San Francisco, at eBay's first-ever conference for its top women executives, he told 200 of them from 15 countries that he wants eBay "to be better than Amazon (AMZN), better than Google (GOOG), better than Visa (V)." A powerful lineup of women at the top of eBay, he said, "should be a source of competitive advantage." More

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