PayPay Inside-Out People and Culture

What’s your honest opinion on PayPay? vol.17 Product manager


This is a feature article that involves PayPay employees giving their honest opinion on why they joined, and the surprises they encountered after joining.
This time, we sat down with Tian Zhou from Product Division!

Tian Zhou

Product Division

I’m a product manager, and together with engineers and designers, we create new features from scratch for the PayPay app. Instead of doing development, I use my technical knowledge to plan and promote the features I’m in charge of. It’s an extremely rewarding job, creating features from scratch and being the person responsible for it.

PayPay Inside-Out

What are you in charge of?

Tian Zhou

Tian Zhou

When I first joined PayPay, I was working on the home screen and kisekae (themes in the app). I was also in charge of the entire Offers page, which is personalized, so I had to understand marketing as I applied myself to it. Plus, I took care of the home screen, balance screen, capture screen, and other frequently seen items. Going forward, I’ll be in charge of merchant services.

PayPay Inside-Out

From where & why did you join PayPay?

Tian Zhou

Tian Zhou

Actually, I left PayPay once, so I’m a returnee. The first time I joined PayPay, I was seconded from Yahoo! JAPAN (Yahoo). That was in July 2018,before launching the service. At Yahoo, I worked in marketing and business strategy, but when I came to PayPay, I started as a product manager. I was a PMO at that time, but there were almost no administrative departments, so in addition to my PMO duties, I was also ordering whiteboards (laughs).

After working for about three years, I wanted to learn what product managers outside of PayPay were doing, so I moved to an OS development company based in the US, which is a leading IT nation. At that company, the way they handled their products was completely different from PayPay. Here, we renew our app at least once a week, but at my previous job, we had one major renewal a year. The biggest difference was the emphasis on steadily providing their services, as opposed to PayPay, where we produce new products ASAP. In addition, the company was quite large, with many teams and complex products. As a result, the scope each person handled was limited, and the weight of responsibility was quite different from PayPay. With a big company, things proceed slowly.

Having said that, I learned a lot about the concept of putting emphasis on product quality. As a global company based in the US, the users’ accessibility was checked very closely.

Just as I was feeling the difference between PayPay and the lack of output, my boss at PayPay asked me, “How are things going?” Just to be clear, I didn’t quit because I didn’t like my previous job. I decided to return to PayPay after taking everything into account.

PayPay Inside-Out

What surprised you after joining PayPay?

Tian Zhou

Tian Zhou さん

The differences with the company I joined after I left PayPay are as mentioned above, but there were also quite a few differences with Yahoo.

It’s actually something I like about our company more than being surprised by it, but we’re pretty free here. We can work from anywhere in Japan with the WFA system. We even don’t have core hours. I think it’s great that we can decide on our unique workstyle to amp up performance. Also, while Yahoo had the feel of a Japanese company, PayPay has a hodgepodge atmosphere. There are aspects of it being a Japanese company, but also an international quality and freedom like in foreign companies.

I also like the bottom-up approach to work, where it’s easy to make suggestions and voice your opinions. At PayPay, it’s not just about doing the work that you’re told to do, because you can say, “Why do I need to do this?” or “This is what I want to do.”

Nonetheless, there is of course work that comes from the higher-ups. Also, probably due to various business strategies, there are occasional tasks that have fixed deadlines. That’s where we need to be mindful about whether to pick up the pace or slow down our work.

There are a couple of cons, though. For one, you have to set up your own work environment.

It’s fully remote, so there’s no such thing as free food or snacks in the office, or a little corner where we can take a breather. Another thing is that I think there aren’t many benefits or subsidies for purchases, although perhaps my previous company was particularly good in this respect. I use the 100,000 yen telecommute support we get annually to set up my work environment.

PayPay Inside-Out

Are you happy having joined PayPay?

Tian Zhou

Tian Zhou

Well, I came back because I liked it here (laughs).

I especially like it because many of my colleagues are easy to work with. If the work is fun but my team members aren’t, then that wouldn’t be too enjoyable.

There is no stiffness amongst the folks I interact with, and many of them are really easy to talk to. We’re quite open on the Slack channel about when we take time off. And there’s no such thing as, “I can’t get along with this person!” even if we bump heads on certain issues at work.

I also like the simplicity of the system, where only engineers and designers usually work together. The team makeup for each project is rather simple, so that allows us to focus on making things.

If you’re interested in having a lot of freedom and being in an environment with a mixed bag of nationalities and cultures, PayPay would be a great fit for you.

See current job openings here:

Edited by: Keiko (PayPay Inside-Out Editorial Team) / Translation: Language Communication Team / Translation Editor: Justin
*Employees’ affiliations are as of the time of the interview.