Right in the Midst of the Best Experience Ever! Young PayPay Marketer Looking to Gain More Experience as a Player
Get up close and personal with some of PayPay’s first-rate professionals. In this interview, we will talk to Yuki Hashimoto from the Marketing Strategy Department.
Marketing Strategy Department, Marketing Division
Born in Kobe in 1996 and raised there for 20 years. Yuki was a soccer team member from second grade to his senior year in high school. At university, he was the president of a student organization that ran international internships. He received a job offer from SoftBank in April 2019 and joined PayPay in October 2019. His nickname is “Hasshy.”
Tackling Everything Full-on
“Oh wow, this feels lavish! I’ve only seen this kind of stuff on TV; how exciting!”
Entering the room with a twinkle in his eyes in the face of the interview cameras and lights was the professional featured in this issue, Yuki Hashimoto, a.k.a. Hasshy.
Hasshy is the type of guy interested in everything and anything, and he gets completely immersed to the point of obsession. Hasshy tackles everything full-on. If he gets into coffee, he’d roast the beans and grind them himself. If he gets into fish, he’ll go and fish, clean and fillet the fish, and of course cook it himself. Here’s what the office mates have to say about him:
So, the fantastic Hasshy, what piques your interest the most nowadays?
“Right now, I’m most interested in work. Work is on my mind, even on my days off.”
From One-to-One to Mass Marketing – Marketing with Depth and Breadth
This past April, I was transferred to a new department within the Marketing Division. Even though I’m still in marketing, it was a big change; almost everything was new to me. This is why I really enjoy thinking about work now, even on my days off.
My main task at hand is PayPay’s overall marketing strategy, joint campaigns with large-scale partners in particular, and urgent campaigns implemented on short notice. For example, PayPay reached 50 million registered users on August 18. Still, about a month prior, when we were at around 49 million and could almost reach our fingertips to 50 million, we got up and said, “Almost 50 million! Let’s do a countdown campaign!” Just like that. (laughs)
From then on, we had only three to four days to prep, so we went around on our hands and knees, begging QA (Quality Assurance) and legal consultation to get things done by the end of the day to launch the campaign. What’s awesome at PayPay is that no matter how rushed a project may be, people here aren’t resistant to helping out. There’s an air of, “All right, let’s roll with this.”
One-to-One Marketing for the First Two and a Half Years in the Company
In my first two and a half years with the company, I was in charge of one-to-one marketing. Although we now run mass campaigns across tens of millions of PayPay users, in one-to-one marketing, we divided users into small, distinctive segments and came up with the best campaign for each user on a smaller scale.
It has been a series of steady and arduous tasks, much like digging for treasure out of an ocean, but the sky is the limit, and companies who seriously take on this method remain a minority. I feel that the experience I first gained here really lives on in my current mass marketing strategy.
Breaking down the thought process, You can think of it as targeting the approach from abstract subjects to concrete ones. So I’d consider, what is this person like? Or what kind of language can I use? What type of situation could they use it in? These are the types of thoughts that would go through my mind.
I would imagine the concrete output of the measures while digging into an abstract problem till I hit a tangible idea. Once I could do that, it becomes easier to envision the goal and ideals of the measures we want to take. Then it gets clearer how to proceed and verbalize what condition is the goal, and how to communicate the idea so that the team members would be on board.
In mass marketing, we tend to lose sight of whom we are dealing with when we think of people in terms of mass or numbers, but even if we are dealing with 10 million people, what exactly are these 10 million people like, you know? Once we can put a face to the individuals behind the big number, we can finally see what kind of campaign we should run.
Self-taught 2 Hours of SQL Every Day
I learned about SQL as soon as I joined my first team. I immediately asked the analyst to conduct a study session. Once I understood a little, I taught myself and learned by getting my hands on SQL for two hours every day. I still practice for an hour every day.
I look at the data and set a hypothesis on the kind of measures that might resonate with people. Then we as a team throw around some ideas to consider. For instance, what can be do about the topic, “How to increase the number of times the app is launched”? We would hold dozens of brainstorming sessions.
While PayPay has many users in their 30s and 40s, the 60+ generation has yet to make the shift from cash. So how can we get our parents’ generation to use PayPay? Or while most of my friends are PayPay users, they only use the payment feature. How can we increase the use of frequency and use case of the many existing PayPay features? There is so much to consider.
In our team, we keep regular meetings to a minimum. There are many urgent matters, so it’s better to convene meetings on an ad hoc basis. The rest of the time should be spent as much as possible on creating materials, planning campaigns, and structuring landing pages. You never know when or where an idea comes to you. I might get inspired while I’m in town. So I’m constantly “switched on.”
What Makes Up Hasshy? The Ingredients
New Grad to Joining PayPay With a Fanfare
I did not come from a wealthy family, so there were many things I wanted to do but could not try for financial reasons—that led to my interest in monetary systems and stocks in high school. When I came across the book The Ambition of Elon Musk, I was impressed by his high aspirations and scale of business. I looked for a Japanese entrepreneur of a similar caliber and stumbled upon Son-san.
In college, I was devoted to blockchain and tried a service that utilized smart contracts, but I was so unequipped, and it didn’t work out.
Around that time, I heard that SoftBank was going to establish a new service/company, which is precisely how I came across PayPay. I was convinced that PayPay would become a service that would disrupt the conventional norm of finance and reconstruct a new and better common practice from the users’ perspective, since QR code payments were already popular in China and India. I wanted to join PayPay no matter what, so I accepted SoftBank’s offer on the condition that I would be allowed to work at PayPay. (laughs)
PayPay was not hiring at the time, let alone hiring new graduates, so I thought of some way to get my foot in the door. I negotiated my way in, and they listened to me. I truly appreciated it.
Never Satisfied With the Status Quo, Putting the Best Foot Forward for Everything
Fortunately, I joined PayPay in October 2019, one year after the service’s release.
At the time, I heard that professionals from SoftBank and Yahoo! JAPAN staffed PayPay. I was blown away by witnessing these professionals getting their hands dirty and so dedicated to their tasks and creating something entirely from scratch. There was not a single person there who was working for stability or for the sake of getting a paycheck without taking any risks.
Compared to them, I obviously had no work experience and my skills were not yet up to par, so I was desperate to improve myself in SQL, machine learning, and English. Since I lacked experience, I was grateful for the opportunity to prepare materials with my team members’ help and to make monthly presentations to our CEO, Nakayama-san, to share our results.
Negotiated Directly With a Canadian Team for Marketing Tool Modifications
Around that time, I also got to experience localizing marketing tools from Canada. It was a tool developed in Canada by Paytm, but it was something introduced in another country, so none of it was made to Japanese specifications, and there was no manual.
We had to first localize that tool so that we could use it at PayPay. There was much to negotiate about the need for certain features and additional requirements catered to the Japanese market.
Since I’ve always liked technology, I enjoyed both using new tools and executing campaigns using them. Putting myself in a situation where I had to communicate and negotiate in English was great for my personal growth. We’re using this very same tool this month to create a campaign. Considering how I was involved in improving the marketing tool that will continue to be used for the years to come, that makes us the first customers in Japan as well as the project owner for improvements. I was also able to have a direct feel of the Canadian team’s thought process as well. So I was incredibly lucky.
Lessons Learned from Soccer—Getting Help from Everyone, Knowing and Leveraging Each Other’s Strengths
I was pretty serious about playing soccer in high school. I would think about who should do what or the need to enlist everyone’s help to win the game. So it was important for me to be close to and know my teammates’ strengths, just as it was important to have the team know my strengths and weaknesses. Likewise, my colleagues and I need to know each other’s strong and weak points.
Sometimes things just don’t work well when we’re working entirely remotely. So I like to create lots and lots of offline opportunities to meet up and to have more human interaction. Because the more we know each other, the easier it is to point out each other’s shortcomings. It can be hard to receive negative feedback like, “You’re not doing this right,” from someone you feel barely knows you. But it’s easier when it comes from someone you know well, and it helps in assigning tasks and roles. It’s definitely important to know each other very well.
Amid the Best Experience Ever—Wanting to Gain More Experience as a Player
Yet There Are Viewpoints Out of My Reach
What I really appreciate about PayPay right now is encountering different perspectives that never occur to me through the feedback I receive from my supervisors like Kimura-san, Kodate-san, or Fujii-san, on the materials that I thought were exceptionally well prepared.
I would think to myself that I’ve made something pretty decent, thinking I’ve given it my all, yet there are always perspectives and figures that I can’t top. You can’t beat this kind of environment.
Looking back on my college days, I can see now that I didn’t have the skills at all. Still, I think I was able to carry on and work hard without the harsh growth environment of PayPay getting me down because I always carried with me the unwavering ambition and vision for reshaping the world a certain way.
Spending My 20s at PayPay Is the Best Choice of My Life
What does PayPay mean to me? It is hard to put that into one word. I can say that getting out in the world and spending my early to late 20s at PayPay was easily the best choice I made. I will surely take the same path even if I went back in time.
I am having the best time ever right now. However, I keep thinking that I haven’t yet made anything of value at PayPay at all. It’s pretty clear to me what I haven’t accomplished, so I hope to keep giving back to the company. Whether I stay within PayPay or set up something on my own in the future, I want to work with PayPay to change the world through payment finance.
Right now, I’m at PayPay, where I can do so much; I want to be a bold and active player, keep my hands busy, and leave my mark.
In September 2022, Hasshy still has the same stars in his eyes since he joined PayPay back in 2019. His ideas are extremely edgy, yet he has a very gentle air about him. He is studious, ambitious, and heads straight for the goal, yet you can find humility, friendliness, and humanity in him. I can’t wait to see him continue to inspire to the point that is humbling to his colleagues.
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Thanks to: Yuki Hashimoto / Author & Editor: Az (PayPay Inside-Out Editorial Team) / Photographer: Hinako / Translator: Philline / Translation Editor: Justin
*All employee affiliations are as of the time of this interview.