As product people, it should come as no surprise that creating an easy experience is a significant challenge, especially for a global brand like PayPal. And it’s not just consumers that seek that seamless experience. The multinational FinTech company is also accountable for a great experience for merchants and developers.
In this episode, Hannah Clark is joined by Mudita Tiwari—Senior Director for Developer Experiences at PayPal—to talk about how PayPal upholds its core ethos of democratizing payment and what that means at every level of PayPal’s operations.
- Mudita’s background [0:54]
- After taking a year off she realized that “tech for good” is her passion
- She spent time working on World Bank projects and Gates Foundation projects
- She was at eBay for some time and then moved to PayPal
- PayPal’s core ethos of democratizing payment and what that means throughout the company [3:52]
- PayPal is always thinking about how to service all customers and build solutions that not only service small businesses.
- They not only think about online but also in-store experience and beyond.
- Omnichannel experiences: consumers often want to shop online but return in store or vice versa.
- Their core merchant base is 35M merchant accounts and over 100M monthly users.
- It’s the persona that brings together their payment operating system into the hands of the merchants’ experiences.
- What are some of the internal implications around democratizing payment from a leadership standpoint? [6:38]
- PayPal has 12 leadership principles that help guide how they operate business.
- 4 pillars: we partner, we dare, we deliver, we care.
- The second pillar (we dare) appeals the most to Mudita when thinking about democratizing payments.
- Three sub pillars underneath it: be the customer champion, never stand still, and then create simplicity and efficiency in the processes.
- The choice of what a consumer wants – that is one pillar of democratization, inclusion.
- The merchant as a second persona – what is it that the merchant wants in order to set up their business in order to pay for goods and services.
- What are the post transaction behaviors that need to be serviced? Because once you are done buying and selling from a merchant site, there’s also the disputes, the resolution, the tax management, etc.
- The nuance of building a product is entirely dependent on the core value of making sure that you build with the mind of the customer at the end of the funnel.
Being a strong customer champion and never standing still for their needs is extremely important to run our own organizations.Mudita Tiwari
- What makes PayPal’s experiences for developers unique? [10:29]
- They got a lot of feedback from developers that they needed more attention and more care.
- They formed a team dedicated to developer experiences – they have technical content writers, and they partner very closely with their in the box team leaders.
- To build out a true product, you need to follow the fundamentals of product design and bringing the right partners to the table is critical.
- The art is in making sure that they can consume the APIs and SDKs with simplicity.
- Team building – how Mudita builds powerful teams [12:12]
- She personally did a lot of reading and educating herself to be a better hiring manager, to be a better leader, and that continues for every team manager.
- It’s continuous learning.
- The bar raising process – they’ve put together very diverse hiring panels in order to make sure that they are thoughtful about the bias in the hiring process from the get-go.
- The idea of the bar raise is that everybody who hires takes a bar a little bit higher, and collectively they get better and better together. So the idea is not only to be geographically diverse. The idea is to bring in diversity of voice and thought and experience in the process.
- They are very thoughtful about the onboarding process for their talent.
- Care in hiring is extremely important, and making sure retention and growth is equally important.
- What are some of the intricacies associated with building those teams? [15:40]
- A lot of companies are talking about bringing folks back in at least a couple days a week to improve collaboration.
- At the same time, there are many employees who have chosen to be remote – so how do you then make sure that you are still remote friendly, remote inclusive, and you still can collaborate when possible?
- During the time of the pandemic, there were great advancements made in a collaborative tool technologies within the company (i.e., suites that allow for collaboration, whiteboarding, etc.)
- Collaborative work – do a lot of deep thinking, deep writing, deep strategy through a mixed environment where people are remote only, people are in the office and vice versa.
- When you do releases, make sure that you’re patting people on the back, including your partners.
You have to be very deliberate about making sure you’re thanking the team and you are calling out people who help you win.Mudita Tiwari
- How Mudita and her team are mindful of biases and mindful of eliminating them as much as possible throughout the management process [19:31]
- The true win that Mudita feels she had at PayPal is building a team from scratch – the developer experience team.
- They initially had a small team of technical writers and one product manager, and they’ve grown since.
- They spoke about the 12 leadership principles, and the good thing at PayPal is that they’re serious about the goals they set for themselves.
- Building creative solutions for the market and therefore providing and making sure that they are able to modulate themselves throughout the year as the market moves.
Meet Our Guest
Mudita Tiwari serves as Senior Director of Developer Experiences within the Product organization at PayPal. Tiwari joined PayPal in 2018, and currently focuses on creating seamless developer experiences, APIs and SDKs that power the world of integrations and product implementation at PayPal. She leads product strategy and execution for Developer.PayPal.com, Braintree Developer, and Hyperwallet Developer. She has built a large product and technical writing team defining developer experiences to integration for PayPal’s payment solutions – PayPal, Venmo, pay later, card processing, payouts, and other business solutions such as donations, subscriptions, disputes and refunds. Tiwari manages PayPal’s Sandbox.PayPal.com experiences in partnership with site infrastructure teams to deliver seamless testing experiences, governance, and best practices for internal developers. She serves as a voice of developers and an evangelist for PayPal developers through social channels and developer forums.
Prior to joining PayPal, Tiwari worked as a strategic technical partner to eBay’s Chief Architect, and VP of Developer Ecosystem. She created a strategic vision while executing complex technical programs to revolutionize cross-collaboration at eBay. She has a master’s in public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley and a business degree in informational technology at Cleveland State University. Tiwari is passionate about empowering customers by deploying initiatives for financial literacy and enablement.
It’s not just about hiring, getting people to the pipeline. But it’s making sure that we care deeply about our people and grow our talent.Mudita Tiwari
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Read The Transcript:
We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.
Hannah Clark: As consumers, we tend to ask just one thing of online payment systems - it just needs to be easy. But as product people, it should come as no surprise that creating an easy experience is a significant challenge, especially for a global brand like PayPal. And it's not just consumers that seek that seamless experience. The multinational FinTech company is also accountable for a great experience for merchants and developers.
For today's episode, I spoke with Mudita Tiwari, Senior Director for Developer Experiences at PayPal. Mudita spoke with conviction about upholding PayPal's core ethos of democratizing payment and what that means at every level of PayPal's operations. As you'll hear in a moment, PayPal has leaned into doing what is right and ethical at every opportunity. This approach has had tangible benefits for all of PayPal's internal and external stakeholders, and has been crucial for their global success. Let's jump in.
Mudita, thank you so much for joining us.
Mudita Tiwari: Hannah, such a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for having me.
Hannah Clark: So let's get started with the basics. I'd love to hear a little bit about your career and how you ended up at PayPal.
Mudita Tiwari: Absolutely. So my career has been a career of a self exploration joy actually, is what I will say. I started my journey as a developer herself.
So coming out of college I was a little bit confused about where I wanted to grow and what I wanted to do. And internet was the thing at that time. And I'll certainly reveal my age, but Y2K was the big thing that was going to take us all down back then. And that is the time that I graduated and actually entered the market force.
And after that we had a series of actually shocks to the economy. 9 11 happened soon after I graduated and actually started work. And it was a great learning experience and empathy and understanding how do you work through turmoil and also discovering your various talents. I realized that working in a team setting, working in analytical thinking oriented work was truly my passion.
I did management consulting for several years after, got a chance to work on the East coast. I'm right now in the West coast, but got a strong flavor for working in the East coast and learning the culture there. And was honestly burnt out a little bit from traveling a ton across the country, but had the joy of really seeing how public and private companies work together. And the joy of creation and the joy of scaling products when you work at the private sector pace, but at the scale of public sector.
So with all of that knowledge, I did take a year off just to unwind and strongly recommend that for a lot of professionals. If there is a crossroads and if you can take a little bit of time off in your career and decide where you wanna go, that's certainly something to be embraced. I took one year off, just volunteered and realized tech for good was my passion.
So understanding mobile banking technologies is something that I ended up doing quite a bit. Understanding health tech is something I ended up doing quite a bit and ended up going back to school for my graduate degrees in Epidemiology, Biostats and public policy. So I had quite a lot of veering, as you can see, from developer to stats, to big data, to policy. And then really felt that when you are able to use tech to build those scalable products, it's a fantastic marriage.
I spent some time working on World Bank projects, on Gates Foundation projects. And really further developed an empathy for what tech can do on the ground. And after that, startups came calling. I was at eBay for some time, and then PayPal came along. And I've been at PayPal for some time and it's been such great joy to sort of take all of those good experiences and work in an ecosystem where we pride in democratizing payment technologies, payment solutions. We think about the merchant, we think about the consumer. We think about the developer when we build products. And so it's been a great journey so far to bring it all together.
Hannah Clark: It's fantastic. And it sounds like such an excellent fit for your competencies and the skills and experience that you bring to the table.
Can you tell us a little bit about PayPal's core ethos of democratizing payment and what that means kind of throughout the company?
Mudita Tiwari: Absolutely. And there are many pillars to this, but at the core of PayPal's value system, we're always thinking about how do we service customers of all sizes, of all geographies and of all scales.
That's truly what we're thinking about. The idea is for us to build solutions that can not only service our smallest of businesses, micro businesses, but can scale to the middle of the market, to the enterprise as well. And then of course, very much for the ways modern commerce happens through multiple channels.
So thinking about, a multi-partner solution where you have ecommerce platforms, but many merchants can go and sell on those platforms. So we solve for all of those types of use cases. And of course, the various ways we deliver services. We not only think about online, we're thinking about your in-store experience and then beyond in-store.
So our experience as consumers, as you may have noticed, Hannah, especially during pandemic, has changed so much. There is certainly an omni-channel capability that is required for any types of solutions that we're building in the ecommerce space. So consumers often wanna shop online, but can return in store or vice versa.
As you may have noticed and I'll share my own experience, is during pandemic, I just drove up to the storefront and a fine person came to deliver those goods and services to us in the car. That is a novel innovation just happened out of the need essentially that we were going through at the time, collectively during the pandemic.
And really shifted the expectations of the consumers and accelerated digital commerce. So if we think about where PayPal is at the moment, our core merchant base is 35 million merchant accounts as well as 190 million active monthly users. And that's a large global base that we service. As PayPal is also a global company offering services in at least 200 plus markets. And so therefore, our obligation doesn't just end where we're headquartered. It is absolutely beyond our borders. So not only thinking about how we are going to service the consumer, how we're going to service the merchant becomes an equal priority for us because we wanna make sure we're thinking about that entire omnichannel experience.
And last but not the least, I'm happy to talk about developers and we can go into that next. But it's the persona that brings together our payment operating system into the hands of the merchant experiences and marries the experience very well together. And that's the importance of the developer segment, who we service as well. And we have a global audience there, and my team is delighted to service them as well.
Hannah Clark: So I would like to talk about developers shortly, but let's talk a little bit about some of the internal implications around democratizing payments. So from a leadership standpoint, what are the implications there? What does that mean for you?
Mudita Tiwari: I love that question, Hannah. Actually, I'll go a little bit further. I'll talk about the leadership principles that PayPal has, and I'll pick a couple. We have 12 leadership principles to help us guide the way we operate business at PayPal. So the broad pillars, let me just go through those.
The first one is 'we partner'. The second one is 'we dare'. The third one is 'we deliver', and the last one is 'we care'. So the idea is not only to think about doing the right thing, building the partnerships on the bridges, making sure that through a daring attitude, we are customer champions. And of course delivery becomes equally important to make sure we're servicing our customers.
And lastly, we wanna do it with care for our employees. So those are the pillars that we think about, and that's the narrative that ties us together. But I would say that when it comes to democratizing payments, the second pillar to me appeals the most when we talk about 'we dare'. And there are three sub pillars underneath it, and let me just illustrate those and why we think about this ethos again and again.
We talk about being the customer champion. We talk about never standing still, and then creating simplicity and efficiency in the processes that we are servicing our customers with. And why that is important as a pillar goes back to democratizing payments value that we hold so dear. At the end of the day, my job and everyone's job at PayPal is to really service our customers and to think about, their experience with PayPal first. What is it that delights them?
What is that irks them? What is it that is an opportunity where we can partner with them to make sure that we're solving problems together? So at the end of the day, if we think about what is it that a consumer wants from us? They typically want a seamless checkout experience and they wanna go ahead and actually buy and transact in the way that they see fit.
So the choice of what a consumer wants is what we think about, and that is one pillar of democratization, inclusion, and thinking about what is it that the consumer wants. When we think about the merchant as a second persona, we're often thinking about what is it that the merchant wants in order to set up their business in order to pay for goods and services.
And last but not the least, what is the post transaction behaviors that need to be serviced? Because once you are done buying and selling from a merchant site, there's also the disputes, there's the resolution, there's the tax management, there's just inventorying. There's an entire back office management that a merchant has to think about.
And certainly at PayPal, if we wanna facilitate that and make sure that, the merchants have the right data in order to take the post-transaction life cycle forward. And last but not the least, in democratization, we also build our products for sale. And we had talked about this a little bit, and I'll just harp on that a little bit again.
We wanna make sure we're building for global merchants, global consumers. And that's when we think a lot about how are we localizing our experiences? How are we internationalizing our experiences? We think a lot about how is it that we should position our brand in various locations? How do we meet the regulatory requirements?
So the nuance of building product is entirely dependent on the core value of making sure that you build with the mind of the customer at the end of the funnel. And for us as leaders, the core principles that we follow, and depending on the journey of our teams, we flex on each of those major four pillars.
But certainly I would say for me, being a strong customer champion and never standing still for their needs is extremely important to run our own organizations.
Hannah Clark: Wonderful. And there's also a consideration of the developer. So the developer experience, this is somewhat of a competitive advantage for PayPal. Because as a global product, there's also considerations in terms of what the developer experience will be when it comes to API. What makes PayPal's experiences for developers unique that you're so proud of?
Mudita Tiwari: Yeah. So passionate about this area, and so speak for hours on this. Hannah, you're absolutely right. When done right, developer experiences can be a huge advantage for PayPal and are starting to be exactly that. To be very transparent, we got a lot of feedback from developers that they needed more attention and more care from us, and that is exactly where the company pivoted about two years ago, I would say, or so.
And we formed a team dedicated to developer experiences and I'm very thankful, we and our team have product managers, we have technical content writers, and we partner very closely with our, who we call and in the box team leaders. So engineering is core to our partnership. So is design, so is user research, so is, our program management, analytics, et cetera, and everybody else, our sales partners, our go-to-market partners, et cetera.
So to build out a true product, you're absolutely right. First you need to follow the fundamentals of product design and bringing the right partners to the table is critical. But at the same time, as far as the competitive advantage is concerned, PayPal, APIs and SDKs power the payment processing for, merchants across the globe.
Like just like you said, the art is in making sure that they can consume the APIs and SDKs with simplicity. So it keeps us on our toes as well, and making sure that we're designing experiences for a myriad of users in the developer space.
Hannah Clark: So one of the things that we spoke about in a previous conversation was the importance of not just owning a product that speaks to a global market, but also having a team that reflects that global market. Can you tell us a little bit about team building and how you approach hiring and building and making sure that the team that you build is reflective of the customer base that you serve?
Mudita Tiwari: Absolutely. I am so passionate about building teams and especially this scrappy approach, the entrepreneurial approach of finding talent and making sure that we scale the talent, build the talent, and really set them up as the next generation of leaders. That's truly a passion of mine. And so I've personally done a lot of reading and educating of myself to be a better hiring manager, to be a better leader, and that continues for every team manager.
I would say, that's a continuous learning. There's some approaches that we already knew in the market work really well. So for example, the bar raising process, the hiring committees that have been established by some of the larger companies and have been used at Amazon, at Apple, at Google, et cetera.
So we've learned from the best practices there and put together very diverse hiring panels in order to make sure that we are thoughtful about the bias in the hiring process from the get-go. A lot of our interviewers are trained and are seasoned and make sure that they can raise the bar of the talent at PayPal.
So the idea of the bar raise, our concept is that everybody who hire takes a bar a little bit higher, and collectively we get better and better together. So the idea is not only to be geographically diverse. The idea is to bring in diversity of voice and thought and experience in the process. And through the panel that we put together, we're able to meet and make sure that we are discussing and we are holding each candidate through the same lens essentially. And really holding each other accountable in the process as well.
So that has been a great learning and a fantastic process that we use every single time we hire. In addition, I would say, we are very thoughtful about the onboarding process for our talent. You must have read this in a lot of intelligent magazines that a lot of times people quit not because of the role itself or the opportunities it might be, but because of the managerial gaps that they might perceive very quickly as they onboard.
And that onboarding experience is so critical and making sure people have a smooth start. They have mentors, they have buddies in the system, making introductions and getting them ready is important. And then getting them through the 30, 60, 90. So that's extremely important. So care in hiring is extremely important, and making sure retention and growth is equally important.
It's not just about hiring, getting people to the pipeline. But it's making sure that we care deeply about our people and grow our talent. And then of course, I would quote my CTO on this one. Sri Shivananda gives us great frameworks of thinking about talent, thinking about like opportunities, et cetera. And oftentimes he's given me good advice that if you have fantastic talent, just let them grow.
Just let, give them the guardrails and just let them do their thing, and which has been extremely freeing for me as a manager. And then of course there might be other folks who might need more help with the skillset development, so you invest accordingly. They might need more help with opportunities, so you make sure they have a seat at the table, et cetera.
So it's various ways that you take care of your employees, retain them, and really take an active interest and then build a relationship with your team. So, true joy in doing that. And I would say that outcomes have been very fabulous as a result of applying these.
Hannah Clark: Your passion for leadership really comes through. It sounds like you're a joy to work for. So carry on with the theme of team building and leadership, you actually built the developer experiences team at PayPal, so I'm sure that you've got lots to share about that process. But I'd love to talk a little bit more about process of team building and building powerful teams, especially in a hybrid and remote first environment.
What are some of the intricacies associated with building those teams, but also sustaining them and nurturing them when you don't have necessarily in-person experiences?
Mudita Tiwari: I think that is such a relevant question because I feel we're still sort of in the pandemic, or we're done with the pandemic. I can't tell.
I rely on experts for that, but it seems like people's lifestyles have changed quite a bit as a result of the pandemic. At least that much we know. As a lot of companies are talking about bringing folks back in at least couple days a week to improve collaboration, and I empathize with that. I understand that.
But at the same time, there are many employees who have chosen to be remote in the circumstances they may have moved, their family situations might have changed, and we honor that regardless. So how do you then make sure that you are still remote friendly, remote inclusive, and you still can collaborate when possible?
So I think at least during the time of the pandemic, there were great advancements made in a collaborative tool technologies, et cetera, within the company. So for example, we certainly have, suites that allow for collaboration, white boarding, et cetera, even online. Not only that, I think where leaders can do a much better job is to make sure that if there are remote folks, you bring them to the table, you allow them and open the door for them to make sure they're either proactively contributing through your health and through the back channeling that may have happened.
Or you ask them what is the best way to communicate and really be mindful of their communication style. What ends up happening in a hybrid situation is oftentimes people in the room tend to take up the space just because they're there and we are very conversational species. So obviously, conversations happen when you are in a room together and you may not notice what is happening on the screen and you may not notice that somebody has their hand up, et cetera. So at minimum, people managers and leaders have to be very mindful of that, and that is something we talk about actively.
Not only that, what I've learned from my leadership is, some leaders do a very good job of saying that, oh, that person was trying to say something, can we get them a chance to just complete? And so that opens up the space and sets the tone, et cetera. So I would say just giving people a seat at the table to collaborate is number one.
The second piece is collaborative work. So we do a lot of deep thinking, deep writing, deep strategy through mixed environment where people are remote only, people are in office and vice versa. But we use several tools to collaborate together. And I think, there's a lot of co-development that asynchronous and synchronous co-development that can happen, getting people together.
And then last but not the least, when you do releases, when you make sure that the product is ready for the market, make sure that you're patting people on the back, including your partners. And that is extremely important because what we've often seen is that sometimes, inadvertently so, we've forgotten that one person who did contribute but was maybe slightly introverted and did not toot their horn and forgot to, and we forgot to mention them.
So you have to be very deliberate about making sure you're thanking the team and you are calling out, people who help you win. And so again, like a 360 loop of making sure that inclusion from the get-go, thoughtfulness from the get-go collaborative strategy and decision making, and then of course delivery and scratching each other's back and celebrating each other.
Hannah Clark: So important. And I think anyone who's worked on a team can empathize with both of those sides of the coin. So last thing I wanted to touch on before we wrap up, and it's kind calling back to something that you mentioned in a previous question, was eliminating bias or being mindful of bias and trying to remove it from the hiring process.
But I'm also curious how you and your team are mindful of biases and mindful of eliminating them as much as possible throughout the management process and how decisions are made within the team?
Mudita Tiwari: Absolutely. Yeah. So, I would say the true win that I feel that I've had at PayPal is really building a team from scratch, and that was the developer experience team.
When we started this team, we really had a small team of technical writers and one product manager, and we've grown since. And very thankful that we were able to bring the leadership along convinced the value of investing in developers and making sure we adhere to the principles of PayPal while doing so.
So I think I could not have asked for a better job where I could run my startup within an established company. So that's the fun that we've had, and I hope every leader gets the joy of this experience in their lifetime. I would say that we spoke about the 12 leadership principles, and the good thing at PayPal is that we are serious about goals we set for ourselves.
Performance goals, personal development goals, as well as the targets that we're marching towards. However, we as humans are not just targets to service, essentially. We are building creatively solutions for the market and therefore providing, given the system and making sure that we are able to modulate ourselves throughout the year as the market moves.
So that is very important. But the process of goal setting allows us to march towards something and make sure we can course correct along the way. So that is one great thing, but we are grounded through this entire process in our leadership principles. And again, those 12 principles really help us think about at the end of the year, did you achieve what you thought is best for business and best for you?
But did you do it well? Did you do it adhering to the best ways we think we should conduct ourselves together? Did you listen to the customer on the way? Did you make sure that you addressed sort of their pressing challenges along the way? Did you make sure that you were caring about each other through the process and made sure that we were not burning bridges along the way of developing a product?
So we all thrive in this situation. So I think that is very important for us. It's not just the what, but it's how we did it and how we got there together. And I would say that then layered on top of our core value of making sure we're democratizing payments, we're taking care of, everybody globally who we service layers an extra sort of, garnish on the top of making product really work for us collectively.
Hannah Clark: Fantastic. I think that's such a wonderful approach. I hope that anyone listening is learning a lot from this, such a fair and democratized way of thinking from top to bottom.
So Mudita, thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate your time today and so many wonderful insights as well.
Mudita Tiwari: Thank you so much, Hannah. This was so much fun and I can't wish you more than unimaginable success in leading this podcast, so congratulations.
Hannah Clark: Thank you so much!
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