Up close and personal with some of PayPay’s first-rate professionals.
In this issue, we will be talking with Yuto Uno from the Android Team.
Android Team Leader at the Payment Product Division
Yuto joined Yahoo Japan Corporation in 2013 where he worked as a web frontend engineer for the landing page of well-renowned web portal Yahoo! JAPAN working on both PC and iOS platforms. In 2019 he was seconded to PayPay where he moved into unchartered waters by switching from iOS to Android development, assuming the position of Tech Lead. Finally, Yuto joined PayPay in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys watching soccer. He just became a father recently.
From the outside looking in, I just knew PayPay would be one of those revolutionary products you only see around once in a decade.
The journey from Yahoo! JAPAN to PayPay
I joined Yahoo! JAPAN as a new graduate where I began working as a frontend engineer for the iconic Yahoo! JAPAN landing page – a role in which I gained a vast amount of knowledge. But as I was an iOS engineer, I was very anxious and eager to switch to an environment that would allow me to develop more aggressively.
The funny thing is, at that time, I had received an in-house job link from Yoshimitsu Sakui encouraging me to join PayPay. Sakui-san had worked as a former iOS developer at Yahoo! JAPAN before joining PayPay a little before me.
One motivator was not wanting to carry around a wallet anymore
I’ve never really wanted to carry a wallet.
I was a high-school student the very first time I understood the convenience of the Suica card, which meant I no longer had to buy paper tickets. From there I started wondering about what other kinds of products could be completely managed from within an app. Amid this cashless revolution, I could see that PayPay was set to become to all-encompassing force in the mobile payment space.
I want to revolutionize the mobile payment system in Japan!
Back in 2019, there was lots of news coverage about PayPay—although not all of it was positive—but even still, you only see a product like this come along about once every ten years, so from the outside looking in I remember being very impressed.
An amazing mobile payment service has arrived!
I want to revolutionize the mobile payment system in Japan!
Sakui-san says PayPay is a workplace where I can try my hand at anything
I want to rapidly develop my skills and challenge myself as an engineer
I want to be somewhere where I can develop aggressively!
For me, PayPay was a perfect match for me as an iOS engineer who wanted to work somewhere where I could develop more proactively, as I mentioned earlier, and so I applied and ended up joining.
I want to be there as PayPay revolutionizes the world
The OS doesn’t matter to me
About three months after I joined PayPay, it became clear that there were not enough Android developers and so I joined the Android development team.Even though I had been working on iOS up until then, the switch to Android was no issue for me.Whether it was BFF or backend, I wanted to try out everything, and I continue to have this mentality.
What is important is that I’m having fun while doing it and that I have a focus.If I have those, then most of the time everything else falls into place.
I guess the toughest part for me so far was the Customer Android App Renewal Project. The aim of this project was to reduce the technical debt without pausing development of the features. Finally this project took just under a year to complete from pitching the idea to senior developers.
I am personally a huge fan of PayPay and want to help turn PayPay into a global leader in the mobile payment space. And, most fundamentally of all, I just love creating things.
I don’t want the trivialities of company bureaucracy getting in the way of the product
All the same, I was very surprised to learn that I would be appointed leader of the Android Team!
There are so many other talented contenders at PayPay – so why me? Then I realized I had been given this position because I am probably more approachable than others at work.
At that time the Android Team was lacking in resources and facing many challenges.However, I did not want to let these frivolous issues get in the way of the product.
The current Consumer Android Team
The latest PayPay Product Division is mainly divided up by Product Line and Utility Component. The former is formulated of a team that is mainly in charge of developing new functionalities that align with PayPay’s business strategy, in the way that the P2P and Finance Teams operate.
However, the Consumer Android team that I lead falls under Utility Component, taking charge of new feature development, maintenance, design improvements and releases. Examples of some of the major projects I’ve been involved in include Payment, Map, i18n support, ATM top-up, Home Redesign (FO), P2P (TL), and Scoop Removal (Android standard library updates).
A typical day for me
A typical day will usually include a range of different meetings for various projects, with topics related to technical discussions on feature development or scheduling and resource planning. I also work as the frontend lead for the P2P product line, where I am involved in finalizing the app architecture design for P2P feature developments, as well as creating the code and reviewing.
We hold weekly meetings with the QA Team to ensure the stability of our releases and discuss scenarios we want them to validate.
Another important meeting we have are 1-on-1 meetings with team members. These are arranged biweekly and serve as an opportunity for us to check on the status of current workload and progress rate, in addition to airing any concerns and offering necessary support so that each of our team members can exert their full potential.
I don’t want to be a manager that my team fears
Now I have assumed a managerial position and I was always fortunate enough to be led by patient managers. So I just naturally assumed that was how it should be – and that’s how I intend to manage my own team.
That’s precisely what happened to me when I was working on the Yahoo! JAPAN landing page; in my very first release I caused a major incident. But instead of showing anger, my manager calmly asked me what we need to do to prevent this happening again, and what we need to do going forward. Having that experience really gave me the motivation to work harder.
Therefore, by looking after my own team, by motivating them and helping them achieve their potential, I am essentially following the example that was set by my former manager at Yahoo! JAPAN.
Voices of Members
“He’s extremely patient, a very gentle communicator, and doesn’t get angry.”
“Despite having limited English ability, he never lets language become a barrier to communication.”
“He makes time for engineers whenever necessary (to explain tasks in more detail, etc.).”
“He’s very focused on the concept of team, and pushes everyone to consider how they can contribute to the team (rather than simply to their own career).”
“When he took over as the Android Team lead he had no experience with Android. He invested his own time into learning Android and Kotlin, and regularly contributes to the code base (rather than just delegating all code tasks). This alone is amazing!”
“Yuto-san is an empathetic and compassionate leader. He would very patiently listen to any problems we might have, be it personal or work related, and help us navigate through them.”
I want our members to grow, because that will help them succeed in their career and it is also beneficial from a PayPay product perspective, so I am careful about how I assign work.
I also want them to clearly understand my expectations.Without giving them your expectations, without giving your team a sense of direction or a path in which to follow based on their own career path, you’re wasting their potential. Particularly given the fact that we work in such a great environment.I hope they view me as someone helping them to reach their career goals.
The clearer you say it, the more I can help
Since PayPay is a very multinational workplace, I appreciate it when members communicate clearly with me. Rather than keep it inside, it is always better to voice your concerns.It makes life more difficult if you don’t.
Therefore, I also have a responsibility to give satisfactory answers to all of the questions I receive from my members.Sometimes we think we might be doing something worthwhile when from a team perspective it is a waste of time. The clearer this is understood the faster we can change it and then make improvements. This is the way I like it.I’m not a fan of the ‘reading the room’ style of communication.
Every day I’m learning
I like it if my members only attend meetings when they have something to say or when they need to express their opinion. The only problem is when I need to mention something they’re involved in, sometimes they’re not there! This is certainly a problem, which is why I try as much as possible to avoid it.
It can be difficult to strike the right balance, though.
And it can also depend on the position.Being a manager means I must look at the big picture.
Every day is a learning journey for me. PayPay is teaching me a lot.
Sometimes I even find myself thinking “Isn’t it too soon? Too fast-paced?”Previously I never saw myself as a manager.I came to PayPay seeking out new challenges as an engineer…and yet here I am today working as a manager.Having said that, another big part of my job is writing code.
How to know if PayPay is the right fit for you?
An environment like PayPay requires someone who is ready to seek out information themself, to ask questions—someone who is a self-starter.
- Someone with a strong sense of responsibility, who will commit until the end, who can make decisions whilst communicating with lots of different people at the same time. Someone who can put the user first in their business strategy, who approaches development with their team in mind.
At the very least they should be willing to persevere with the task they’re assigned until the very end.PayPay is a product that’s in for the long haul, so we need people who work with a vision of what’s ahead, who can think about the future of PayPay and not just the here and now. We need people who can think about the next generation of employees.
Helping out fellow colleagues.That kind of mindset should be ingrained in that individual; they should be willing to reach out and help others when needed.
Essentially folks who give their all to the task at hand.Who help fellow colleagues when they need it. People who think about their our own careers, the service, the product, and the future. And ideally that “ordinary” mindset proliferates, since possibilities are endless and success can take any “shape.”
I like to think that at the end of what we do is always the customer.
As a user, I try and think about what would add to the product and at the same time, as an engineer, I try to think how I can turn my idea into a functionality that is scalable.
Of course, that doesn’t mean everything is achievable from the start.
Some words for our engineering audience
If you’re somebody that knows what you want to do, you have a vision of how you want to grow, and you want to make PayPay an even better product—then PayPay is a great place for you to grow your skillset.
Every day there’ll be something to challenge you.
Your opinion will always be valued.There will always be someone willing to listen to what you say and when you have come up with a good idea, you can rest assured that around you there will always be members who are willing to join you in turning that idea into a reality.
We are looking for Android engineers!Editor’s note:
Just between the time I did this interview and finished the article, Uno-san became a dad at midnight on “Tanabata” – a star festival day. He told me that he is going to take paternity leave for a month. I am absolutely sure this experience will make him a good dad and an even more beloved leader.
Current job openings
Special Thanks: Yuto Uno / Author & Editor:Az / Photographer: Tak / Translator: Jeanette / Translation Editor: Justin
*All employee affiliations are as of the time of this interview.