PayPay Inside-Out People and Culture

PayPay’s HRBP team – Maximizing the Potential of Both Organization & People


At its inception in 2018, PayPay started with no people, no organization, and no time at all. It was the secondees summoned from Yahoo! JAPAN, SoftBank, and Paytm who paved the way during Day 1, the tough start-up phase. Since then, PayPay has faced ever higher challenges, such as acquiring merchants across the nation and developing new features for the app. This has been made possible thanks to the behind-the-scenes support from the very special people who have recruited many new colleagues in and after Day 2, strengthening the organization and its members to ensure the best possible performance. In this edition of “Professionals”, we introduce you to the Organizational HR team (HRBP) in PayPay’s Human Resources Department and the “professional” contribution they provide.

Yuichi Hagiwara

Manager, HRBP & Planning

Yuichi joined PayPay in November 2019 after working for a major manufacturer in global HR (HRBP and Planning) where he reported directly to the Vice President. His hobbies include basketball, golf and collecting miniature cars with his one-year-old son.

Toya Shiraishi

Sales, HRBP

After working for a major retail company, Toya joined PayPay in May 2020. His hobbies include driving and window shopping.

Asami Kawai

Labor Management & Compliance, HRBP

Asami worked in payroll, training, labor management, planning and HRBP at service, gaming, and HR companies before joining PayPay in February 2020. Her hobbies include mobile games and Korean dramas.

Momoko Hayakawa

HRBP – Product

Momoko worked for Yahoo! JAPAN and joined PayPay in April 2019 as a mid-career recruiter and was transferred to HRBP later. Her recent hobbies include replicating izakaya menus at home (struggling) and vegetable gardening on her balcony (battling insects)

witching to a higher gear to further accelerate the business speed

Tell us about the work and mission of Organizational HR (HRBP)

Let me (Yuichi Hagiwara) answer this question. There are currently four teams in PayPay’s HR department: Planning, Organizational HR, Recruitment, and Payroll. The Organizational HR team is responsible for all touchpoints besides recruitment and payroll, across employees’ entire “employment journey” – from the moment they join us to the moment they leave.

In HR terms, this includes workforce and personnel cost planning, organizational development, personnel allocation and development (so-called “talent management”), appraisal, compensation, labor relations, and compliance. The entire process from planning to implementation is handled by the Organizational HR team.

As specialists in organization and people management, the Organizational HR team’s mission is to maximize potential and improve the productivity of both employees and organization. In fact, since the history of HRBP in Japan is still young, I suppose a lot of you might not be familiar with the concept. In recent years, this genre of human resources has become mainstream, especially overseas. As a Human Resource Business Partner (HRBP) who works closely with managers and executives, supporting management strategies from both the “organization” and “people” perspectives is becoming increasingly important.

Why did PayPay decide to create an HRBP team?

During the launch phase of PayPay, we had to switch to a higher gear to further accelerate the speed of the business. To make this possible, I decided to introduce a cross-functional team structure for PayPay’s HR team, which supports account management (responsible for business units) and functional management (responsible for the whole company).

Account management is a field-facing role, in which a dedicated HR professional is assigned to each business unit, such as sales, development, marketing, etc., to carry out HR management tasks. About half of the work is consulting, 30% of the remaining half is employee relations, and the other 20% is system administration (this portfolio structure was created after careful discussions within the team). Functional management refers to the planning and implementation of company-wide measures, such as training, organizational development, human resources development, labor relations and compliance. Oftentimes, HR systems and policies do not fit the actual workplace and are not fully effective.

To prevent this from happening, PayPay has implemented a cross-functional system that allows HR policies to drive the business forward from both management and frontline perspectives. In order to accelerate the speed of business, HR jumps into the operations to catch up with the issues on site, discusses with the management and the people working at the forefront, and plans the measures to be implemented. By doing that, we can introduce an alpha version rather than a beta version. Then we can gauge the business results firsthand and keep updating. This is what makes PayPay Organizational HR exciting.

From here, let’s hear about the members who oversee the two divisions that represent PayPay: the Product and Sales divisions. Momoko, you oversee the Product (Development) accounts, right?

Yes, I am. The Product Division is one of the most unique and diverse divisions in PayPay, with more than 60% of its members being non-Japanese. This means that everything must be bilingual (in English and Japanese). When designing our onboarding program, we also provide foreign employees with an introduction to life in Japan in general, as well as various procedures and etiquette related to culture and manners. For example, in the Kanto region, it is customary to line up on the left side of the escalator, and there are also rules for take out the rubbish properly, taking off your shoes at the entrance and so on. As more and more people are joining PayPay, we’ve also created onboarding videos so that people can watch it whenever they want. Of course, we prepared them in both English and Japanese :).

As the name suggests, the Product Division is one of the most important divisions of product development at PayPay. We literally do everything we can to ensure that its members, who come from all over the world, are able to perform to the best of their abilities. It brings tears of joy to my eye when I receive thank you messages from them!

【A typical day for Momoko (Product Division) looks like this:】

Check the status of orientation for new employees in parallel with normal duties.
Respond to member’s enquiries (WFA, visa, what if my ID name is different from my office nickname, I’ve been injured, I can’t read the documents from the authorities, I’m worried about my family abroad because of COVID-19…)
Document screening and creation
Orientation for employees from abroad
Various meetings
Check and prepare for new recruits joining the following month
Various interviews
Review of the 7-day onboarding program and wiki update on internal procedures

Toya, you are in charge of the sales department. Can you tell us what a typical day is like for you?

My typical day is a complete mix of accounts and functions. For this reason, I try to organize the information comprehensively and switch my mind between the management and frontline perspectives.

【A typical day for Toya (Sales Division) looks like this:】

Group staff meeting (sharing information from the previous day, future tasks and schedules)
Preparation of materials for the regular team meeting at 11am and the afternoon meeting
Regular team meeting (sharing tasks and key information, team discussions on issues)
Meeting with members of the corporate planning team and planning team members to discuss labor costs (sharing current figures and future projections)
Preparation of documents and responses to various inquiries
Check and send various information and figures to temporary staff
1on1 with Yuichi (reporting task progress, discussing issues)
Prepare documents and respond to various inquiries
Participate in regular meetings of the division I’m responsible for (Corporate sales)
Prepare documents, respond to various inquiries, check schedule for the following day, etc.

Now, in terms of Function Management, I would like to turn to Asami. Are you in charge of labor relations and compliance?

Yes, I am in charge of both labor relations and compliance. In most companies, the HR department oversees labor, and the legal department is in charge of compliance. At PayPay, however, we’ve challenged ourselves to do both in the HR department. This is the most fascinating part of my job, but also the most difficult. Originally, from my experience in the labor relations field, I thought the most important thing was to empathize with the feelings and thoughts of employees. However, I realized that things are different in compliance – here you need to be able to listen carefully and make decisions based on facts, in line with the rules and regulations, so it took me a while to change my mindset and my emotional stance (laughs), but it was the best learning experience I’ve had, and I am still learning things every day.

In addition, PayPay’s labor relations and compliance are closely tied to the business side, and we work intimately with each department in each business unit to decide on the measures to be taken. Working for PayPay is a great opportunity to get to know the characteristics of each type of business and to gain a wide range of experience. With two different shoes on my feet – labor and compliance – I am able to adjust the rules and regulations to best suit the actual business situation, the organization and the people. The good thing is that I can also design and implement education programs and training for the right people in the right places, and I have the flexibility to update HR systems and rules to meet the latest needs.

Also, as Momoko and Toya mentioned, various problems occur across the entire group, and sometimes things need to be propped up. In such cases, the function management team will not deal with the issue on their own. They will collaborate with the account management team in the Organizational HR department, interact with the relevant departments, and do everything possible to improve the condition of the organization and its people.

What do you find to be most difficult in PayPay’s Organizational HR?

From top left: Yuichi Hagiwara, Momoko Hayakawa, Asami Kawai, Keiko Kamide, Takeo Shiomoto, Ryutaro Makita, Yukie Kanemura, Makoto Noji, Toya Shiraishi

Ryutaro Makita (center row right in the group photo)

All in all, it is quite difficult to keep on creating so many new things from scratch. However, this is the true pleasure of working for a growing company. Systems and rules are not in place and nobody has the correct answer. You have to be the one to take action and discuss it with both the management and frontline side, again and again, to push the business strategy forward. In addition, the speed at which PayPay recruits new employees is faster than the time needed for new hires to get used to the new working environment, so sometimes it might give an impression that many HR professionals are required to work beyond their capabilities. Nevertheless, each member’s ambition and willingness to enjoy the challenges of change and creativity has enabled the team to take a positive approach to organizational HR. It’s not uncommon for me to go back and forth between account management and functional management and ending up not seeing the forest for the trees or, conversely, getting into arguments with members of the organizational HR team when I take the side of the field staff too much.

Among all these challenges, what are the best moments when you feel happy that you are a member of the HRBP?

Takeo Shiomoto (center row middle in the group photo) It’s when I see the members of my business unit performing well and being satisfied with their work. Whether it’s a marketing team celebrating a successful campaign or a product team releasing a major project without any accidents, I’m always quietly applauding. Because we are close to both management and the frontline teams, we are able to hear directly from our employees, for instance, “I am happy that our managers encourage us to propose new ideas”, “My coworkers rely on me as much as their supervisors”, “I have built a trusting relationship with my frontline manager even though we argue sometimes”, “My manager said it was good to hear my honest opinion”. These are the best moments that make me happy to be working at HRBP.

What kind of members are you looking for to join your team? Feel free to leave a message.

Keiko Kamide(center row left in the group photo) A person who cares about other people. I think this is the most sought-after quality. I tend to feel attached to the person once I’ve spoken to him/her. I ask myself, “What good qualities does this person have to offer?” or “When does this person shine the most?” I believe that a strong organization is a place that allows each and every one of us, with our diverse talents, to fly as high as we can without breaking our wings. PayPay is growing rapidly. While expanding our business at a tremendous speed, we are constantly taking on new challenges. This is why I am looking for people to come and join us who have the mindset of “overcoming whatever happens while enjoying the ride!” We are looking for someone who, instead of saying “Oh, it’s hard, why is this happening…”, says, “Huh? It’s only getting more and more interesting!”, with a grin.

What kind of people would you like to join you in the future? Please leave a message.

Yuichi Hagiwara (top row left in the group photo) I think working at PayPay is in a way like walking through a jungle.

As a matter of fact, my team members are the kind of people who are striving to move forward toward the same vision, who can hear the sound of the river that I can’t hear, see the vegetation that I can’t see, and smell the scent of earth that I can’t perceive. For example, Toya is good at tracking data and deriving measures from it, and Momoko is good at acting intuitively without losing sight of the core organizational issues. Asami is good at accommodating employees and increasing engagement, and all members have their unique strengths and expertise.

As you can see, PayPay’s organizational HR team is not an amateur organization like a group of friends, but a professional organization with expertise. Sometimes we shake hands with our right hand while we fight with our left. I believe that if we work together in this team, we will be able to go further, beyond the jungle. I would like to set bold goals, score some big wins together, and share the success with the team. If you want to discover what’s there on the other side of the jungle, join our team now and make a big impact on solving social issues!

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Edited by: Az (PayPay Inside-Out Editorial Team)
*Employees’ affiliations are as of the time of the interview.