Innovating From Within The Workplace
Growing up, Vinod Rajpurohit was always the one to break barriers and he always knew he’d one day end up working in the industries dabbling in creativity and technology. Now a Human Factors Design Engineer at Paypal, he terms what he does in his current multi-disciplinary role as “humanising technology”. With an eye for aesthetic beauty and an interest in understanding customers and providing great user experiences, Vinod has been with the global online payment company for over 6 years, in a career spanning across three countries.
“I enjoy what I do, and it challenges me to think outside of the box yet maintaining practicality and frugality,” says Vinod. “This makes me an active participant in the company as an intrapreneur – to always question existing methodologies and to be the bridge between product and technology.”
Despite the many misconceptions that many may have of both his role and the company, Vinod pushes on as an active advocate of innovation, challenging both himself and established practices every day.
“Some people have the impression and ask, ‘doesn’t PayPal only has like, 3 pages on the web? Why do you need thousands of people working on them?’, or ‘it’s easy money for you guys, to simply be the middle man between transactions’,” said Vinod.
“What they fail to see is that lots of creative discussions and technical implementation happen in the background, with much innovation required for new technological risks, government regulations and international standards being put in place every day.”
Vinod goes on to explain that when these challenges come up, many creative approaches will be discussed and trashed out, and a measure that is settled upon could have the impact of potentially saving the company millions of dollars.
“It is this problem-solving mindset that is really exciting, and it gets me going,” said Vinod. The constant changes happening round the clock in the financial technology landscape fuels his hunger for innovation and to hone his enterprise thinking skill. “The product has to constantly adhere to government policies and financial regulations across countries, and a lot of work has to be done each day to ensure this compliance.”
Exercising entrepreneurship as an employee
Despite working in a large corporation, Vinod does not feel restricted as an employee – but yet, still sees himself as an entrepreneur, in his own sense. “My idea of entrepreneurship is that as an individual, you bring value to other people’s lives – be it as a startup, or as an employee in a company,” he explained.
“Even something as simple as holding a user group study can bring about value to everyone,” he said as he recalled an instance where he deemed himself to have exercised innovation in his workplace. Vinod proposed an alternative to the company’s user testing method of obtaining user feedback. This helped save the company plenty of time and resources, and at just a fraction of the price. “The team got very excited, and this new process also become something we utilised for future testing exercises. In that way, the resources we saved were brought to better, more efficient use.”
Not one to ‘start something up for the sake of doing so’, Vinod believes in creating value for the society. He knows that doing so in a large corporation like PayPal would bring about a more far-reaching impact than he would as an individual.
Apart from supporting his side hustles, he is also thankful to the company in being extremely understanding towards his decision to further his education. “I was based in India at that time, and had initially considered taking up a Masters in Human Computer Interaction in Pittsburgh. However, I came across MSc TIP, and the programme really stood out to me as being out of the track,” recalls Vinod of his decision.
“I took a quick look through the modules, and they really attracted me. As a student, I have this weird habit of not being able to sit still and learn – I have the need to be constantly engaged and immersed and MSc TIP was able to provide me with that.”
Vinod was also relocated to PayPal Singapore to accommodate his part-time post-graduate programme. “It was a really stressful juggling between my work and my study, but PayPal was really supportive. My two years through the course really taught me that in order to grow and mature, you really need the support of people around you.”
Though not easy, but Vinod saw the vast benefits in learning.
“I was able to apply many of my learnings in real-time. Something I just learnt and picked up on Saturday could be applied and implemented at my role here in PayPal as soon as the following Tuesday. And by the next Saturday, I was able to come back to class and review these methods and have fruitful discussions with my peers and professors,” he recalled.
“I was also exposed to many other fields such as human resources, marketing and brand strategy – which helped me greatly in seeing how I fit in to the whole picture, and the roles I was playing in this large company.”
It was with these learnings that also helped Vinod grow not just as a better employee, but also a more enterprising individual.
“After MSc TIP, my perspectives were completely changed. Coming from a slightly technical background, the way I see a smart phone could be its technical specs, design features and app functions.
Now, how I’d see it would be the whole consumer tech ecosystem, the business sustainability, the industries which it has disrupted – basically a complete shift,” says Vinod.
Being in the same room as individuals from all over the world and across different industries, the opportunities to learn and network from each of them is also something Vinod holds close.
Applying these learnings to his roles at PayPal was no issue, due to his constant exposure to businesses large and small in different verticals.
“I’m able to experience the shift in businesses first-hand, and I can see that running a business in this day and age is really difficult – the speed of change is so fast, with so many new competitors and product verticals coming up each day.
“Whether or not you become successful boils down to a few characteristics that matter: decisiveness in the face of tough decisions, and being bold to follow through with them,” he says. “MSc TIP gives you the necessary skills to go forward with these decisions.”
Even for his own ventures in the future, MSc TIP has also empowered him with the necessary skills. “Apart from seeing products and ecosystems in a different light altogether, the learnings I have from MSc TIP will also allow me to ensure I have a sustainable product on hand,” he said.
“Armed with these knowledge and know-hows, I know I would not have any regrets.”
Fueled by a fundamental belief that having access to financial services creates opportunity, PayPal is committed to democratising financial services and empowering people and businesses to join and thrive in the global economy. Their open digital payments platform gives PayPal’s 203 million active account holders the confidence to connect and transact in new and powerful ways, whether they are online, on a mobile device, in an app, or in person. Through a combination of technological innovation and strategic partnerships, PayPal creates better ways to manage and move money, and offers choice and flexibility when sending payments, paying or getting paid.