PayPal has been at the forefront of the digital payment revolution for over two decades. In India, PayPal’s teams—consisting of approximately 7,000 employees spread across multiple centres in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai—play a crucial role in supporting the company’s global operations. These teams, focusing primarily on technology and customer support, contribute to the success of PayPal’s products and services worldwide. Over the years, PayPal has expanded its footprint in India, fostering a culture of innovation and career growth. To gain insights into their journey and the pivotal role played by talent, we sat down with Jayanthi Vaidyanathan, Vice President and Head of HR for PayPal India.
Learnings from the pandemic
“I think the last three years helped us learn, re-learn and unlearn a lot of things,” says Vaidyanathan, reflecting on both the opportunities and the challenges brought about by the pandemic. Naturally, the pandemic sparked a worldwide increase in digital payments, which in turn increased financial inclusion and opened up new business opportunities around the world. Vaidyanathan highlights, “A lot of people who were not exposed to digital transactions started becoming comfortable with these—so much so, in fact, that there was a new term coined: ‘silver tech generation’.” The term refers to those aged 65 and up who have started embracing technology faster than ever thanks, largely, to the fact that digital transactions became the norm during the pandemic.
At the same time, the pandemic emphasised the need to support employees holistically. PayPal rose to the challenge, implementing various initiatives, such as experiential learning, microlearning sessions, and career weeks, to empower employees and help them navigate their career paths. “For instance, we felt the need to enable speed mentoring, where a person walks into a room—in this case, a virtual room—and is able to meet at least three different mentors, say in a one-hour span. We introduced many such programmes, pivoting towards bitesize, experiential learning opportunities, where people could engage with their partners. We also launched a few branded programmes like ‘Good to Great’, which is really focused on senior technology individual contributors,” Jayanthi Vaidyanathan shares.
In the area of talent management, the company recognised that managers would have to play a pivotal role in supporting their teams, especially considering the additional caregiving responsibilities that many employees confronted. Aside from focusing on the mental wellness of employees and facilitating flexibility in working arrangements, PayPal expanded its policies to address eldercare and established rapid response teams to support employees in various situations. “There were a lot of policies that we announced, but the trick was to also ensure that managers, as the custodians of these policies, were partnering with their teams. So, it was critical to equip them with tool kits to help them manage conversations or situations.”
To this end, the company created resource booklets—toolkits—with a lot of emphasis on ‘wellness mentors’, managers themselves being ‘wellness mentors’. “There was also a change in the way we looked at policies: for instance, a lot of programmes were already in place for employees, spouses, and children, but we also focused explicitly on helping our employees support their parents, parents-in-law, et cetera. Creating teams that could respond to situations rapidly became the need of the hour,” Vaidyanathan shares.
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“Today, 44% of PayPal’s global workforce is female and almost one third for technical roles. It’s very inspiring to note the efficacy of our interventions.”
She offers another example to illustrate the organisation’s commitment to prioritising employee care and well-being during the pandemic. “We quickly adapted our childcare programme to include nanny support at homes when day-care centres were no longer an option for employees. We also recognised the impact of unconscious biases, particularly on women with increased caregiving responsibilities, and took deliberate steps to foster conscious inclusion through training, role-playing, and creative approaches like theatre-based learning,” she says, highlighting that the organisation went above and beyond to provide its people with the support they needed to navigate those challenging times.
New Ways of Working at PayPal India
The pandemic also accelerated the adoption of remote work and, consequently, eliminated geographic barriers. PayPal acknowledges the opportunities and challenges associated with this shift. The company aims to strike a balance between flexibility and collaboration, recognising the importance of in-person interactions for innovation and brainstorming. “For example, we have launched something called ‘collaboration days’ – once a quarter when people look forward to coming to the office to organically interact with colleagues in person and participate in programming focused on culture and business topics. We’re trying to find that sweet spot of providing that flexibility and enabling employees to foster collaboration with an added focus on inclusion across hybrid ways of working,” says Vaidyanathan.
Interestingly, she observes that “many people seem to prefer to come back to the office”. “I think, post-pandemic, there is a natural kind of urge to be together, engage with people and meet colleagues. We are supporting this through our anchor days, which are days when people can count on other colleagues being in the office,” Vaidyanathan shares.
Moreover, the firm’s hiring strategies ensure that new employees feel a sense of belonging, despite the distributed work environment. Initiatives like ‘leadership houses”—akin to ‘houses’ in schools, “where people come together anchored by a leadership principle,” as Vaidyanathan explains—and forums that allow for a bottom-up approach, foster inclusivity, and help integrate new employees into PayPal’s culture.
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Evolving hiring practices and nurturing talent
As PayPal continues its journey, talent remains a crucial aspect of its success. The company’s focus on nurturing talent, adapting to changing work dynamics, and promoting total employee wellness has positioned it as a sought-after employer in the digital payment sector.
PayPal’s hiring practices have evolved in response to changing work dynamics. The company embraces a hybrid model of in-person, virtual & Virtual-flex and flexible arrangements, allowing employees to work remotely. This approach enables employees to foster collaboration and innovation through initiatives like collaboration days.
Additionally, PayPal has adopted a forward-thinking approach to salary bands, eliminating geography from the equation. “I know there are some parts of the world where it’s not practical to do this because of the tax regime and other legal nuances. But in India, it’s still a single tax structure across the country,” Vaidyanathan shares, pointing out that this allows the company to hire the best talent, irrespective of their location. By removing the constraint of differentiating salaries based on location, PayPal creates more opportunities for individuals, and this goes a long way to foster flexibility and attract top talent.
Training and absorbing talent
PayPal is committed to bringing more women into the technology sector. The organisation’s student enablement programme, in partnership with ICT Academy, provides technical orientation and certification courses. Additionally, the ‘Recharge’ programme focuses on enabling women who have taken career breaks to re-enter the workforce. Candidates undergo a six-week boot camp that includes skill-building, mentorship, and real-time assignments. The success of these programmes is evident, with many participants securing jobs within PayPal and the broader industry.
“Over the last several years, I’m very happy to say that we’ve made significant progress in this regard,” says Vaidyanathan. “Today, 44% of PayPal’s global workforce is female and almost one third for technical roles. It’s very inspiring to note the efficacy of our interventions,” she adds, highlighting that PayPal dedicates itself to reducing the gender gap at all levels of the organisation. Initiatives like ‘Unity Bloom’ were designed to bring more women into the technology field through partnerships, live mentorship sessions with industry leaders, online hackathons and so on.
The ‘Recharge’ programme, referred to above, was launched around 2016, specifically to support women returning to work after a career break, and to provide them with training and job opportunities. Over the years, the number of applications and successful placements through Recharge has grown, contributing to the overall reduction of the gender gap. “As part of Recharge, we’ve trained more than 500 women. The intent was not to just bring them into PayPal, rather to create enough opportunities and bring more technologists into the industry as well,” says Vaidyanathan, sharing that ‘Recharge’ will shortly be launched in a slightly different avatar which will make room for remote participation. “We’re thinking through the mechanics of that right now,” she says. Moreover, PayPal has implemented the ‘Unity sponsorship programme’, pairing mid-career women with executive sponsors who actively support their growth and advancement.
“We quickly adapted our childcare programme to include nanny support at homes when day-care centres were no longer an option for employees [during the pandemic]. We also recognised the impact of unconscious biases, particularly on women with increased caregiving responsibilities, and took deliberate steps to foster conscious inclusion through training, role-playing, and creative approaches like theatre-based learning.”
A culture of creativity and innovation
The company also actively encourages and supports innovation through initiatives such as the Gen AI tournament, annual innovation tournaments, hackathons, and an active volunteer research group. “There are several such programmes that keep the fire burning,” says Vaidyanathan. She shares that the success of these endeavours is measured via employee feedback, by tracking the number of new products and proof-of-concepts originating from India, and by the fact that teams from India have consistently achieved top rankings in global innovation tournaments.
“In fact, for the global innovation tournament, we received 540 submissions from all almost 30,000 employees worldwide, and two of the top three finalists were from India. And I think that speaks volumes to really all the innovation coming out of India and our workforce here,” says Vaidyanathan, pointing out that the ‘leadership houses’ she mentioned above also serve as a framework within PayPal where dedicated teams focus on driving progress and innovation.
“These teams actively engage in conversations and initiatives aimed at strengthening the company’s direction and measuring its success,” she says. “Employees play an integral role in these discussions, ensuring a collaborative approach to leadership development. Recently launched for a one-year period, the ‘leadership houses’ foster ongoing conversations to enhance the model, strengthen organisational growth, and ensure effective measurement of PayPal’s trajectory,” Vaidyanathan shares.
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By fostering inclusivity, providing growth opportunities, and creating a culture of collaboration and innovation, PayPal remains a sought-after employer in the digital payment sector. Notably, its commitment to employee well-being, gender equality, and entrepreneurial thinking positions it at the forefront of creating a positive and dynamic workplace.
About the leader: Jayanthi Vaidyanathan has over two decades of experience running HR organisations focused on driving best-in-class employee experiences while driving strategic business outcomes. Prior to joining PayPal, Jayanthi worked at Covansys, e-Funds International and Ma Foi Management Consultants Limited.
Year of Incorporation: PayPal was founded in 1998. In 2005, PayPal invested in setting up the first of three world-class software development and operations centers in Chennai. Today, in India, PayPal has offices located in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.
Number of Employees: Almost 7,000 employees in India.
– V Chandramouliswaran, VP of Data and Site Leader for PayPal India
– Jayanthi Vaidyanathan, VP and Head of HR, PayPal India
– Nath Parameshwaran, Sr Director, Government Relations, PayPal India
Business Line: By leveraging technology to make financial services and commerce more convenient, affordable, and secure.
Hiring Pipeline: From software developers, architects, program managers and user experience engineers to web developers, data scientists and analysts, employees at our Global Technology Centres in India work across consumer and merchant operations, payments, data science and risk domains to provide cutting-edge solutions for our customers worldwide.
Key HR Factors:
o Employee Financial Wellness Initiative: Launched in 2019, we made every full-time employee a shareholder of PayPal, lowered the cost and enhanced our benefits, raised wages where needed and offer financial planning tools for all employees. As part of the program, PayPal provides financial learning programs and counselling, as well as emergency relief in urgent situations.
o Comprehensive Health Benefits: Covers full-time PayPal India employees, eligible dependents, and same-sex partners.
o Childcare and Eldercare Support: PayPal’s childcare and eldercare benefits provide reliable care for employees’ loved ones so that they have peace of mind.
o Dedicated Learnings for Technologists: Multiple development pathways, including the College Graduate Technical Bootcamp, Good 2 Great, and our Technology Leadership Program, enable the next generation of engineering leaders to build and nurture leadership and business skills.
o Global Sabbatical Program: Once employees have completed 5 years of service with PayPal, they are entitled to 4 weeks of time off.
o Community Impact Program: Our employee-led program enables our employees to foster stronger relationships with local communities through volunteering, grantmaking and other activities.