Tech Talks Vol. 11 – Senior Tech Managers (Part 2 of 2)

The Tech Talks series started in January 2021 to share how PayPay’s tech team brings products to life and to convey the general vibe of the team through the voices of …
About Tech Talks

The Tech Talks series started in January 2021 to share how PayPay’s tech team brings products to life and to convey the general vibe of the team through the voices of its unique members from approximately 40 countries around the world. Continuing on from part 1, read on to find out what four Senior Managers at PayPay have to say about hot topics that engineers around the world as well as in PayPay are interested in.

Technology

How do you decide on which technology (like NewSQL DB) to use?

Mune:

When we made the decision to use the NewSQL DB currently in use, the backdrop was that we were facing a rapidly growing business with only a small team. Sharding is a common approach for scaling an SQL database horizontally, which we started to implement in the application layer only to find that it made the implementation complicated and slowed down development. So instead, we turned to an architecture called NewSQL which executes sharding at a database level. The use of NoSQL was discussed as an option too, but we made a conscious decision to stick with SQL databases because we didn’t have enough resources to experiment with a variety of different technologies. We also did it because of our plans to roll them out across other microservices.

KSK:

The Paytm Team was also kind enough to participate in the discussions to adopt TiDB. Compared to back then, we now actively incorporate new tools and other external solutions that team members recommend. Of course, we do have to weigh it up against our budget, but if it ticks most of the boxes, we do a PoC and go ahead with it.

Saku:

A lot of our team members have worked at cutting-edge tech companies around the world, so when they say something’s a good idea, it most likely is. It’s quite easy to pitch something new – backed by pros & cons – in this way.

Mune:

That’s definitely one of PayPay’s strengths. The team has so much experience about things we wouldn’t otherwise know about, and it’s thanks to all the people from around the globe. Suggesting different tools and solutions when facing a particular problem is something that happens a lot here.

(Mr. Nakayama entering the room)
Are you active in the wider tech community?

Saku:

We announce the technologies that PayPay uses and the ways we use them so that people can get to know more about them, and in doing that, we meet people who introduce us to new ways of doing things.

Mune:

Output activities are important. We ask our members to go out into the community and share their experiences. I especially like the fact that since there are a lot of global members, the community participation is also on a global level. Even with AWS, I’ve been a speaker at global events, not just events in Japan, and I think that’s what I like about PayPay.

About PayPay’s Unique Culture

Martin:

I’ve never worked in a traditional Japanese company, but I can say that PayPay doesn’t feel different from other companies I’ve worked for. Of course, there are differences because every company is different, right? But in terms of culture, if you ask me if PayPay is extremely different from other global companies or companies in other countries, I’d say not to my knowledge or not that much. Here in Japan, I also worked for another company. Even there, I felt a more traditional environment that I don’t feel here. For me, one of the biggest things I noticed is that there is no barrier created by different cultures or different languages, which is something that happens a lot. You often see it in global companies where there are people from one country and people from abroad, and it is very easy to see fractures. But that doesn’t happen here and that translates to work. There is a very good flow of work between different teams, and the teams are completely mixed. I think that for me at least, it makes it more interesting. You get exposure to a lot of different ways of thinking and a lot of different ways of working. That creates a very particular culture- a blend of everything from many many different people and many many different cultures, and this is what created PayPay’s unique culture. And that affects everything, from work culture, to how you relate to people, to how we hire, everything, which is very unique to PayPay.

That’s attractive to both international and Japanese applicants.

Martin:

It goes both ways, actually. It is not only about the mixture of people from different origins, cultures, and languages, but there is also something about the environment. For me, I do speak some Japanese, very roughly, but I try. Before joining PayPay, I had never had a meeting in Japanese. I never felt confident. I always felt like, oh, if you don’t speak that language very well, just stick to English. But here at PayPay, actually a month after I joined, I was already having at least one or two meetings, not very important or critical ones, in Japanese. The only difference was how I felt it was okay here. Nobody really minded, and everyone was doing their best to try to understand me, even if I wasn’t that good at it. I can’t point out what the particular reason was that was causing that, but I’ve just felt it since the moment I joined, and I think that is extremely valuable.

Issues, challenges, and improvements that need to be made

What are the areas PayPay needs improvement in?

Mune:

One thing I would like to improve is the speed at which we get our products out. We are in the process of creating product lines, but how can we scale it by sharing and distributing the work? The question is whether or not we are scaling properly for the increased number of people.

KSK:

This will probably be a long challenge, but I’d like to make things more product-driven. Of course, business-driven projects are also important for the company, and we need to consider the balance, but we would like to motivate our members to be more proactive on the product side to do things that benefit the users.

Saku:

As the number of our employees increases, we need to create an environment and a career path where members can feel they have grown. We still need more frontend people, so I would like to contribute to the company’s vision and goals by changing the team design, changing the roles, and sharing opinions on what we should do to deliver better features to our users faster.

Martin:

Building on top of what the guys have just said, I think it’s about how we make PayPay a success not only for users but also for the people working here, and how to make it a great place to work that leaves us all, in a sense, in the future. For that, we still need to fix and improve a lot of things and figure it out. I kind of see PayPay as transitioning out of the startup-ish phase, and now it’s about PayPay as a company needing to discover what its adolescent personality is. Now, it’s like a child, and we are just figuring that out. It’s going to be a big challenge but it’s definitely going to be an interesting one.

So, what does PayPay mean to you?

KSK:

I guess it’s my life. I do feel like I’m betting my life on it. As you can imagine, I have a particularly strong attachment to PayPay, as I have experienced projects in the past that were scrapped just before the release or that did not go well. The service has been out in the world for about three years now. We’re still in a transitional stage of growth, so I want to take care of it until the end so that it can become No. 1 in many more areas and not just assist during its birth.

AZ:

It’s like your baby, isn’t it?

Saku:

That’s right. The services I create are like my children, so if something hurts, I’ll fix it, and if they’re in trouble, I’ll take care of it. I feel that the company has given me a tremendous opportunity. As someone who has only worked in the media field before, financial services are a new experience for me. I will keep contributing where I can and learn as I challenge myself. It’s a global environment where speed and security are a must, and we have all kinds of PMs, designers, and people in general. Surrounded by amazing people who only discuss positive things to improve the company, I feel alive, and I would like those who can enjoy this type of environment to challenge themselves at PayPay – there is always a place for such people here.

You love that kind of thing, don’t you, Saku?

Saku:

Yes, I do! I believe it will definitely work, and I want people who want to enjoy it to join us. I think we will grow even more in the future.

Martin:

For me, PayPay is about potential. It’s about how far we can go. I saw what the payment transformation did to Latin America a couple of years ago. If I project that and extrapolate it to the Japanese economy and Japanese society, the potential is so much bigger. How many people’s lives we can actually change, and how much we can change society! It’s something that’s impressive to me. And actually, seeing it happening in real time every day is for me what PayPay is about. It’s how big it can be, how big we help it become. Being a part of that for me is what drives me.

Mune:

PayPay aims to overthrow cash. There are still many places where you can only use cash, and there is still a lot that can be done. In the countryside, there are now places where only cash and PayPay are accepted, which makes me feel proud. When we feel that our work is changing the world, we are proud of our product, and we can see what we have done. That’s the kind of thing I really enjoy!

All employees are proud of it. It’s not just the Product Team!

Everyone: -smiles all around-

See our currently available open positions here Job Openings:

【Final words】

I really enjoyed my time with the four tech directors. They may be a bunch of troublemakers, but they’re the best. KSK, Mune, Saku, and Martin are all great. I can’t ask for anything more. We had a great session with Rikako and Seiko, who interpreted for us that day.

Written and edited by Az (PayPay Inside-out Editorial Department) / Interpreted by Rikako & Seiko / Photography by Tak

*Employees’ affiliations are as of the time of the interview.

You May Also Like