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The Internal Communication Team – Capturing & Sharing Life at PayPay

Kona

12/22/2021

It was the Internal Communication (Internal PR) team that created “PayPay Inside-Out” in July 2020, to make it possible to read about what life is like at PayPay and the people working there. Read on to find out about the motives, passion, and behind the scenes episodes of the team that has never faltered to tell the story of PayPay even after everything went online.

Azusa Kawada (Az)

Azusa Kawada (Az)

Came to PayPay from Yahoo in October 2018. Just before the launch of the app, was assigned to the front line in the capacity of HRBP in the Product Division – during that initial period of chaos. To take advantage of being witness to all the different phases, she launched PayPay Inside-Out in 2019, where she remains today.

Takashi Nishimura (Tak)

Takashi Nishimura (Tak)

After working as a designer and art director at an advertising production company for about 15 years, he joined PayPay in January 2021. He is responsible for a wide range of things including web design, graphic design, video and still photography in the corporate domain.

Keiko Yasuda (Keiko)

Keiko Yasuda (Keiko)

Joined PayPay in August 2021. After working for a publishing company in legal, secretarial, internal and external PR roles, she joined the PayPay’s Internal Communications team. She is responsible of the “What’s your honest opinion on PayPay?” and “Defending to Pioneer” series and articles about various events.

Takashi Nomura (Nom)

Takashi Nomura (Nom)

Joined PayPay in September 2021. As a front-end engineer, he is in charge of the technical implementation of LumApps, WordPress, and other mediums used by the team.

Konatsu Saito (Kona)

Konatsu Saito (Kona)

After gaining experience in public relations at a major manufacturer, joined PayPay’s Internal Communications team in August 2021. Her main job is internal PR, and she is currently working hard on an overhaul of the company’s portal site. She has also been in charge of the WFA series since December.

Capturing each irreversible moment

Az

PayPay Inside-Out is an owned media that was created with the mission to record life at PayPay to make sure everyone could join-in on what’s happening, not just the handful of people experiencing it.

Az:
I was seconded to PayPay from Yahoo! on October 1st, 2018. I joined the HR department four days before PayPay was released, and without knowing who anyone was, I arranged a party to celebrate the launch of the app on October 9.
At the time, our office was a WeWork in Ginza. Everyday, I would turn up to find someone sitting in my seat because there were so many new people joining, not to mention other members from Canada and India (Paytm) on business trips as well, resulting in an office that was quite literally heated.

The day of the Launch Party. Harinder Takhar, CTO, on the far right.

Back then we celebrated the birthday of each employee with cake, ordered dinner for members who were busy with dev-work, and were happy or sad seeing the transactions rise or fall (number of payments), all the time remaining vigilant so that there were absolutely no incidents or outages. It was like we were all living under the same roof.

A lot of crazy things happened back then. (laughs) But, like Harinder (CTO) says – “PayPay will set its own standards” – PayPay has become a global team in its own unique way. The culture that we have now is a result of team members coming together and influencing each other. Seeing them close up, I really felt that “everyone is a rock star.” (also by Harinder) The urge to capture in writing what each and every star does and to share that with a wider audience was what led to the inception of “PayPay Inside-Out.”

I drew-up a proposal for it around March 2020. There was no team at first, so things began with a band of volunteers who helped with the design work and writing articles. It happened to be right during the pandemic as well, so I ended up going into the office for the first time after that only in November 2021. All interviews were done via zoom, the articles written from home, and in that way, we gradually built PayPay Inside-Out into a more established existence with different feature series.

Yahoo! has been in business for a little over two decades, but things have been changing so fast that there aren’t many people remaining today who can describe what happened 10 or 20 years ago. Since I saw that first-hand, I wanted to make sure the same thing didn’t happen at PayPay. I’m truly happy that I’ve been able to record what happened over these three fast-paced years.

Thanks to the regularity of publishing, I have learnt so much about various things related to PayPay: other departments and what they do, the specific people in each department who are outstanding and why, thoughts from various people on different subjects in a blog-like manner, the different cultural backgrounds of various colleagues. (comment by an employee)

We are particular about every step of the process. The members and the team do what they do thanks to WFA.

Tak, who joined the company in January 2021, came to the office for the first time in November.

If you can do it, you can do it! – regardless of where you are. Putting this to practice, we turned the WFA system, another unique feature of PayPay, into an advantage.

Tak:
There are many phases involved in creating an article, such as the planning, research, design, implementation, and publication, and we do all of that in-house.

I have been communicating almost exclusively online from the first day I joined, and I have never felt any inconvenience at all. If anything, WFA allows me to communicate quickly with members scattered all over Japan, which I think is very efficient.

In fact, I’m truly grateful of WFA, because I wouldn’t have met or worked with my team members without it. (laughs)

Az:
In our team, Nishimura-san (Tak) who’s the designer Konatsu-san (Kona) who’s one of the writers live in the Kansai area. Isn’t it amazing that we can work with people whose paths would never have converged had we been working out of an office in Tokyo? There are quite a few foreign national engineers I interview that live in Fukuoka or Hokkaido, so one question I often ask is “How’s the weather your way today?” We also have fun sharing photos of our respective geographies. We communicate mainly through Zoom and slack, but there are endless ways to make it work, precisely because it’s online.

During the pandemic, many things that used to be “normal” have changed. But on the other hand, it’s also a great opportunity to get back to the drawing board and think about things from scratch. Because PayPay Inside-Out was launched during the 2020 pandemic, right from the beginning, there were so many things we had to get creative about to make it work.

We are always agile, or rather, we experiment, see the response, and improve what’s necessary. At one point we only had two people on the team, but this limitation in resources helped us to focus on eliminating waste and focusing on what is truly required.

Take the WFA series for example. It started as an internal-only article, consisting of a background on how employees came to live in different areas across the country, accompanied with overwhelmingly beautiful photos. The series was very well received. Gaining confidence from the feedback, which included voices like “Great quality content!” and “We should let more people know about how people work at PayPay,” we rearranged the series and published it in PayPay Inside-Out. The series may not have been what it is today if we had planned it for external publication from the beginning and worried about too many things in the process.

It’s good that you planned it before the pandemic. It would have been difficult to get through the disaster without it.
(Nakayama-san, CEO)

It’s now a media outlet read by most people who join PayPay

“Let’s show the world the makers of PayPay, and the company!” “Let’s help people become PayPay fans” – that’s our origin, and now here we are.

Kona:
Az and Tak have filled me in on multiple occasions about how PayPay Inside-Out was born, but hats off, it’s amazing how much you guys drove its growth as a medium. I am another of those people who joined the company after reading the blog. I was impressed by the photos used in the WFA series that Az mentioned, which were absolutely beautiful.

I received an explanation about WFA during the hiring process, but was skeptical about its authenticity. The content of the articles was so much that it left me thinking “Are these people real? Is it just for show?” After joining the team and finding it was true, it was also a genuine surprise to find from Az and Tak that everything from the design to the article’s publication online was done in-house! Now that I’m no longer just the reader but also the maker, I make an effort to write articles that don’t come across as too sterile, but rather, reflect my personality as the writer. Tak – did you read this blog before joining too?

Tak:
I read PayPay Inside-Out a lot of times before joining, but since there wasn’t a lot about designers, I had the impression there wasn’t much focus on design at PayPay. (laughs) Contrary to my concern, there turned out to be many excellent designers which is why I began the Design Series to make sure light was shed on them as well. Another thing I find super interesting is that although PayPay is now very well known, a lot of things are still waiting to be given form and order within the company. We’re still creating things from scratch, which is so much fun.

Kona:
I never saw it that way! Since my previous job was at a so-called big company, the change to PayPay was a huge culture shock. I’d read about being given ownership of things and the speed at which things happen at PayPay, but only after joining did I really understand that those things and that they happen every day. In many cases, internal PR teams create content together with external production firms, but at PayPay everything is 100% in-house. This helps to foster the ability to come up with ideas without relying on someone else, as well as experiencing the pains involved in creating. That’s what makes our job challenging as well as worth the while.

Az:
Zoom, slack, Wiki, Asana, spreadsheets… all of these tools are essential to our work. No doubt it would be a bit of a culture shock if someone’s used to using paper or phone calls, or if they’ve come from a hierarchical culture. Doing things at overwhelming speed, coming up with ideas and driving it yourself may come as a shock too. I try to coach – rather than teach – team members so that they arrive at their own way of doing things through the 1-on-1 sessions I have with them.

PayPay Inside-Out is also an internal newsletter that’s available to the public

Some have not been able to see their family and friends for two years due to the pandemic. We want to let everyone know how hard they work.

Keiko:
In addition to PayPay Inside-Out, we publish articles for internal viewers only on the company portal. A lot of employees have appeared in these articles and have shared interesting stories. There are stories about overcoming difficult tasks, stories about gratitude, and much much more.

Unfortunately, these articles aren’t available to the general public. On the other hand, PayPay Inside-Out is. It can be read by anyone, including family and other acquaintances. It feels nice when someone can read about what you do at work and they react to that, don’t you think? PayPay Inside-Out helps to boost morale in this way, which I think something that only PayPay Inside-Out can do.

A paper-based internal newsletter might be easier for people to pick up and look at, but believe it or not, PayPay is an app company. Not to mention, web articles can be easily shared with others – you may get feedback from someone unexpected too. In addition, PayPay has a large number of non-Japanese employees. Web articles are an easy way to share information even if it’s to someone in your home country. That’s why I think the format we have fits PayPay’s current situation.

I hope that reactions from other readers, and the experiences of being interviewed will in some way be useful too. I believe that being interviewed makes you take a step back and think about the work that you do. Makes you like your work more. Boosts your motivation. PayPay is not a company that demands absolute loyalty from employees, but through the process of being interviewed, I hope that people can feel as though they are indeed a member of PayPay. I hope that they will come to like the company and their work, even if only a little bit more. The Internal Communication team’s life is also much easier when there are more people who like the company. (laughs)

Az:
I often say this to my Japanese colleagues – no matter how zippy things are at PayPay, how much of a challenge you’re put up against, or how hard it is to communicate because we’re all Working from Anywhere and at Anytime (WFA), your family and friends are relatively close by. On the other hand, our colleagues from all over the world who came to PayPay left their hometowns without expecting the border to be closed and are now in their second year without seeing their families.

That’s why I want to write articles about these colleagues, working so hard at PayPay. When someone tells me, “My mom can’t read Japanese or English, but she was happy to see my picture,” that makes my day. Family, friends, and colleagues are important to everyone, so we want to write about how their eyes sparkle and how cool they are when they’re at work getting stuff done, and let the world know about it. Those with small children will be able to show-off the articles they were featured in one day when their kids grow up.

It was easy to understand the company’s culture, and I could imagine myself working there after joining. I wanted to read more articles and watch more videos of various people. (comment by an employee)

Working with professionalism

There’s one member of our team I haven’t met in person yet – Nom! Here is a photo of him working from home.

There was a time when the Internal Communication team was just Az and Tak. Now we have an engineer in the team and there are more things we can do.

Nom:
I joined the company in September 2021. The first month came and passed like a raging storm. Soon after I joined, we had to renew our internal portal site. Time flew by as I worked on my normal day-to-day tasks while doing research on the CMS (Content Management Systems).

While a lot of things are happening all at once and it can get quite hectic, I’m allowed a lot of freedom to handle things in the way I want, which means that I’m able to try out new things as much as I want.

My research into the CMS has now advanced somewhat, and I’m slowly getting used to my work. As Az said, it’s important to get used to using tools like slack and Zoom as well as managing all the various tasks that are required at the same time.

Tak:
At one stage, it was just the two of us running the media, like Az mentioned. (laughs) We were stretched to our limits just to get the basics done, but now, we are able to contribute more in our respective areas of expertise with a bigger team. I’m not good with technical implementation tasks, so I’m really glad that Nom-san joined us!

PayPay is a company that is constantly evolving, so I think it’s a good fit for people with a professional mindset who can find and solve problems on their own, rather than waiting for instructions.

Continuing to make known the amazing people I work with

Kona:
I heard someone saying, PayPay is a “start-up forever,” and I think this applies to a lot of situations. As the company grows in size and the number of people increases, I want to keep recording and transmitting information so that this “PayPay-ness” continues.

I think that this “PayPay-ness” is not something that will always be the same, but will keep changing like the very atmosphere of the present moment. It’s not something that will go unchanged. Even if management changes, or the form of the company changes, I want to contribute to fostering whatever “-ness” fits the time, so that there’s always a whiff of something PayPay-ish about the place.

Nom:
The members of the Internal Communications team respect different opinions, which makes me want to be proactive in coming up with ideas too. It’s an environment that welcomes taking initiative in solving new problems and taking on challenges.

Keiko:
My ambitions is to develop PayPay’s internal communications into something even people from outside of the company think is awesome! PayPay has boldly adopted WFA, and working out how to make internal PR a success in such an environment alone is very fun. It’s also something that I want to take full advantage of.

When the time is right, I’d like to plan more internal events and write more articles that give people a sense of what it’s like to work at PayPay.

Az:
PayPay doesn’t hire new graduates, so everyone is a mid-career employee who has grown up in some other company. Common sense is different for each of us, and each department has a different color and culture. So, rather than explaining it, I want people to experience it. In particular, the Internal Communication team’s job is to find interesting people and interesting cultures, describe them and let others know about them. This means we need to understand how amazing the people in front of us are and the complexities of the work they are involved in, and then translate that into words.

Tak:
If you’re someone who likes taking on new challenges, join the team. There’s a lot you can do in the Internal Communications team even if you don’t have experience – I’m from a completely different industry as well. As long as you like a good challenge and are willing to learn new things, you’ll find it here, regardless of what industry you’re from!

Were you able to get a feel of the Internal Communication team’s passion?
As always, we will continue to publish articles brimming with the passion of each and every employee that works at PayPay!

See our currently available open positions here


Edited by Kona (PayPay Inside-Out Editorial Team)
* The information given is as of the time of the interview.