Jayanthi Vaidyanathan of PayPal India on attracting and retaining the best talent for fintech
To bridge the skills gap between what’s delivered as part of the academic curriculum and what’s required in the industry, Jayanthi Vaidyanathan in interaction with People Matters calls for investing in training programs and collaborate with academic institutions to ensure that students are better prepared with practical and problem-solving skills and have the ability to navigate the corporate ecosystem.
The future of fintech is emerging in India. Do you think that country has enough skilled talent pool to serve the industry? If not, what are the shortcomings?
India has a substantial talent pool to serve the fintech industry with a strong education system that produces many skilled professionals every year, including those with expertise across finance, technology, and business.
Moreover, India has a significant advantage in terms of its young demographic dividend. With nearly 50% of the population below the age of 25, the country has a massive pool of tech-savvy millennials and Gen-Zs who are equipped with the latest digital skills.
However, there is a need to bridge the skills gap between what’s delivered as part of the academic curriculum and what’s required in the industry. Companies have a responsibility to invest in training programs and collaborate with academic institutions to ensure that students are better prepared with practical and problem-solving skills and have the ability to navigate the corporate ecosystem. PayPal partnered with ICT Academy last year to serve this purpose. Through this partnership, we aim to support their Student Enablement Program and train students of higher education in advanced technologies and prepare aspiring professionals to lead in the future.
Furthermore, there is intense competition for talent in the fintech sector, both within India and globally. Alongside career development and growth opportunities and competitive compensation packages, individuals are looking for a supportive and flexible environment that engages them. To attract and retain the best talent, companies need to meet the needs of the evolving workforce while continuing to focus on developing business, tech and leadership skills.
Finally, the fintech industry has traditionally been male-dominated, and there continues to be a significant gender gap in terms of employment opportunities and leadership roles. Research has shown that women’s employment results in larger economic gains. It’s therefore imperative that we continue to encourage gender diversity in tech and enable more women to come and thrive in at the workplace. For example, at PayPal, our employee resource group, Unity, advocates for women to thrive in the workplace through various internal and external initiatives – for instance in 2021, Unity Bloom was launched to give female engineers the opportunity to get certified in technical courses, access to live mentor sessions with industry leaders and opportunity to participate in online hackathons. At the end of the program, they even had the opportunity to apply for jobs at PayPal and better equipped for the industry.
You've been in the fintech industry for more than a decade – how have you seen the industry's approach to talent evolve over the years?
When developing their platforms or products, fintech businesses first concentrated on recruiting individuals with a particular skill set, such as coders or financial specialists. Companies have realised the value of a larger set of skills and competencies, nevertheless, as the sector has grown.
The greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion is one notable development. The diversification of viewpoints and ideas that comes from diversity, including gender, ethnicity, and age, has been recognised by fintech businesses as a key factor in innovation and commercial success. Businesses have made efforts to encourage diversity in the workplace and eliminate unconscious prejudice from the employment process.
Another notable development has been the move towards a more comprehensive method of talent management. Fintech businesses have realised that more than competitive pay, it is necessary to draw in and retain great people. Employees seek a feeling of direction, room for advancement, and a positive work environment. To aid employees in developing their careers inside the company, businesses have invested in mentorship, leadership development, and training and development programs.
Last but not least, fintech businesses have realised the value of culture in recruiting and keeping great personnel. Employees who are passionate about their job and feel appreciated by the organisation are more likely to be attracted to and retained by organisations with a strong culture of innovation, cooperation, and experimentation.
How do you attract and retain top talent in the highly competitive fintech industry? What is your approach to training and professional development for employees?
Our commitment at PayPal is to create a culture that promotes personal growth, is inclusive, fair, and is focused on employee wellness. We aim to foster an appreciation culture that recognises excellence in our employees, encouraging them to thrive while also boosting motivation. We achieve this through awards such as Spot Awards, Bravos, and recognition badges, which acknowledge employees that go beyond their duties, live our corporate values, demonstrate skill proficiency, and act as change agents. Our Change Champion Awards offer another opportunity for employees to be recognised, engage with senior leadership, and advance their careers.
PayPal’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are internal communities that bring people together in fulfilling ways. Globally, we have over 6,000 employees engaged in eight ERGs across 115 chapters in over 20 countries. In Asia Pacific, our six ERGs span 20 chapters, and our employees in Australia, Greater China, India, the Philippines, and Singapore participate in these ERGs.
We also strive to empower our employees by providing them with the tools they need to discover their aspirations and become the best versions of themselves. Our learning options are vast, allowing our employees to choose a learning path that best suits their interests, skills, and competency requirements. In 2022, more than 6,200 of our employees in India participated in skilling initiatives that helped save over 14,000 development days.
At PayPal, innovation thrives on a strong, well-connected ecosystem. We regularly engage with local fintech players through tech talks, hackathons, guest lectures, mentorship programs, and other events that encourage knowledge sharing and keep us updated on the latest industry developments.
Our employees are our greatest asset, and investing in them is critical to our sustainable growth and success. As the future of work continues to evolve, we will continue refining and strengthening our programs to provide our employees with the best possible support.
How does your company foster a culture of innovation and creativity, diversity, and inclusion? How does this translate into product development?
At PayPal, we understand the significance of innovation in driving economic empowerment, sustaining competitiveness, and promoting sustainability. We provide a secure learning environment for our employees to enhance their skills, learn from failures, and explore their capabilities. We push our employees to challenge themselves and become comfortable with change. In 2022, resulting from more than 2,000 conversations across our business, we developed 12 Leadership Principles based on our core values – inclusion, innovation, collaboration, and wellness – that establish a common set of expectations for all employees. From revising our approach to performance management to launching new development opportunities, PayPal’s new Leadership Principles serve as the foundation and guide to enhancing our talent management strategy across the employee lifecycle.
In addition to the Leadership Principles, our Global Innovation Tournament is another platform that offers our employees an opportunity to exhibit their innovation and creativity. This tournament involves creating a business plan, prototyping, and pitching the idea to investors represented by our senior leaders. It uses the collective expertise of our global employee base to innovate on actual business, customer, and employee challenges. In the 2022 edition of the tournament, we received over 540 submissions, with two out of the top three finalists hailing from India.
Our Community Impact program is an essential way we build our sense of culture and community among our teams. It provides a point of connection, inspiration and learning for our employees globally, further connecting them to our mission. Through the program, employees elect PayPal Community Impact Grant recipients, offer skills-based mentoring and volunteering, and build community resilience using their expertise for the greater good.
Do you think managing the multigenerational workforce and rapid change in business needs have made the HR leaders’ job more challenging?
The workforce has seen an influx of Gen Z joining the tech ecosystem in the last year. According to a report by NASSCOM, Gen Z and Millennials are now 86-90% of the total Indian tech workforce.
As workplaces become increasingly multigenerational, each generation brings its unique value through its personal experience and skill set. The crucial task here is to utilise this diverse workforce and create a dynamic work environment that aligns with business priorities and maintains harmony at the workplace.
For a harmonious work culture, HR’s mandate is to build strategies that celebrate employees of all generations, recognise their uniqueness, and encourage them to bring their inimitable personalities to work. Feeling heard and acknowledged are a big part of maintaining an inclusive work culture. Mentorship programs that utilise employee skillsets have proven to be a great opportunity to strengthen the collaboration among teams. Companies should also create informal opportunities to build multigenerational teams. At PayPal’s Embark program, we leverage the experience of our senior executives and newer team members to create a low-pressure and interactive onboarding experience for freshers.
It is said that a salary increase makes you happy once a year while a healthy workplace keeps you happy throughout the year. As an HR leader, what is your mantra to keep the workplace happy? How do you measure success?
My mantra for a happy workplace is simple – keep an employee-first approach and listen to your people. Easy tactics like taking regular feedback can be crucial in understanding the mindset of people and help align with their needs. This can be done through regular conversations – 1/1s with team-focused meetings, town halls, or surveys for quantitative feedback.
To measure success in creating a happy workplace, we use a variety of metrics, such as employee engagement surveys, turnover rates, and productivity metrics. These metrics can provide insights into employee satisfaction, retention rates, and overall business success. It is essential to regularly review and assess these metrics to ensure that the organization is on track to create a happy workplace.