【Professionals at PayPay】 is a series showcasing talented professionals who support PayPay. Today, we are pleased to introduce Aya Kawakami of the Enterprise Engineering Department, Development 2 Team.
Aya Kawakami of the Enterprise Engineering Department
-What does the “Enterprise Engineering Department” do?
While the Product Team is regarded as the backbone of the company, overseeing the systems that support the financial services business that is PayPay from the front side, the Enterprise Engineering Department (EE Department) handles various tasks related to the company’s internal systems from behind the scenes. The EE Department comprises 4 teams: The IT Infrastructure team is responsible for the development & operation of the company’s IT infrastructure; the Salesforce team is responsible for the development & operation of the customer management system; Development 1 is responsible for the development of corporate business systems such as accounting, HR and “Ringi” (approval) systems, and Development 2 is responsible for the development of internal systems for operations within PayPay.
-What is the mission of Development 2?
The mission of my team – Development 2, is to develop internal systems to improve the efficiency of internal operations. Some examples are; the merchant screening system, support tools for sales & marketing teams, corporate credit / debt management system, data analysis platform, and so on. The scale, development method, language, and department the development is for can vary quite a bit, but I am mainly responsible for developing systems that use the AWS infrastructure, as well as the merchant screening and credit/debt management systems.
-That is a pretty wide range of things. How do you identify what is required?
I had been told before joining that there wasn’t any particular system in place to identify what needs there are, so I thought my first job at PayPay would be to create such a system, to identify what needs exist. But when I joined the company, there were so many projects I had to deal with on a day-to-day basis, there was no time left to do any identifying. (laughs)
-How do you maintain morale when you are faced with a workload that far exceeds what you expected?
The amount of work is a bit unexpected (laughs), but the amount of work signifies the amount of expectation – that in itself is a motivator. In the fast-changing business environment at PayPay, there are situations where what we talked about yesterday changes tomorrow, but the good thing is that we steer clear of getting stuck without making a decision and waste time – we focus on “user first” and “speed”.
Also, in a start-up environment, it isn’t uncommon that the system that is developed ends up having only 5 users, but in PayPay, you suddenly have thousands of employees using your system, which is another big motivator.
– A system used by more than 1,000 people! That’s a lot of responsibility on your shoulders! (laughs) Is there anything that you always keep in mind?
I always keep security in mind. It’s critical for us to strengthen our governance at the same time we pursue convenience – it has to be done without compromising safety and stability. On that note, we have a department in PayPay called the CISO office, and I’m always impressed at how they are given centralized authority to look after security across the whole company. It’s nice to know that PayPay is an organization that offers both speed and security.
– What are some other exciting discoveries you’ve made since joining PayPay?
There are 3 things. First, the very idea that “time is money and delay is cost”. Second, a culture that tries to document things without being told to do so. To maintain speed, PayPay has a great DNA that avoids information becoming a black box and always tries to keep track of it. Although this does keep me busy documenting things as wiki pages. (laughs) Third, is feedback from management meetings. The company overview and KPIs are shared with employees on a weekly basis, so we can reflect on the work at hand. I think it’s very helpful to have a clear vision of the company’s future, given the fast-paced work style whilst working remotely.
– By the way, what did you imagine PayPay to be like before joining?
Let me confess that I have always been a PASMO fan! (laughs) So, I wasn’t all too into QR code payments to start-off with, and since I used to travel to India a lot in my previous job, I also knew of Paytm’s QR code payment service from a while back. Despite that, I was still using PASMO in Japan. When PayPay was launched, I immediately recognized it as “that Paytm thing!” and it became so popular in such a short time that I jumped on the bandwagon during the 10 billion yen campaign. (laughs) I thought it was a great app. On the other hand, I had this image that PayPay was a big and rigid company. I’m the type of person who wants to understand everything about the system that I’m responsible for, and because of that, I wasn’t necessarily interested in PayPay as I thought a smaller company would be a better fit for me.
-I heard that PayPay was not your first choice.
Yes, that’s right. (big laugh). I had some concerns as it was my first time to be in charge of a system purely internal. I also felt a dilemma because using systems built internally may be good in the beginning, but gradually it results in fixed people working on it, and fixed technology used for it. Then I had a chance to talk to people in PayPay and the EE Department about my concerns, and gradually felt that perhaps PayPay could free me from this dilemma and I became more and more interested in joining PayPay.
-Did the hiring process change the way you saw PayPay?
Yes. PayPay had a faster interview process compared to other companies, and through the interviews and various interactions, I was able to develop a clear view of what the job would be like. I think it was at this point that I began to understand PayPay’s strength – the speed-driven yet result-oriented approach. One thing that somewhat bothered me was that the report line was not to the CTO (Chief Technical Officer). Still, I decided to join PayPay because my current boss, the head of the EE Department, addressed my concerns until there were none left, and also told me that “if something’s truly not right, you can change it.” If it’s change that’s necessary, it will be accepted. That was the message. The more we talked, the more my perception of PayPay changed, and I finally decided to join.
-What are some of the challenges you want to take-on at PayPay in the future?
I want to pursue my initial goal – to create a system that can pick up on what needs people have. For example, spreadsheets and Excel macros created by individuals are crystals of wisdom, and yet in many cases they are left to rot or are transferred to the system team after the owner changes. If possible, I’d like to create a system that can detect useful tools that are being created and used internally and determine whether it should be made into a proper system. I believe that this is the mission of the EE Department, which oversees IT resources and is responsible for the IT infrastructure of the company. Also, as an engineer, I want to learn more about the latest technology and methodology from the elite engineers in the PayPay Product Team. Although there is a difference between building something for internal use and something for external use, I’m always looking to challenge myself to do what I can to the best of my ability.
-Last but not least, I have heard that the EE Department is looking for new team members to bring new strengths to the team! What is your message to potential team-mates?
The EE Department may be the player behind the scenes, but in our own way, we continue to provide what we can for the business, and we are proud to be part of PayPay’s system suite. You can feel that, first-hand, being in the EE Department. If you’re interested in working with us to figure out how best to solve the ever-changing environment surrounding PayPay and its internal challenges, we would love to have you join us. You won’t get a more rewarding environment like ours anywhere else!
Edited by: az (PayPay Inside-Out Editorial Team)
* Employees’ affiliations are those of the time of the interview.