Throughout Women's History Month, we shared stories of women at PayPal working in tech on social media, both to celebrate their achievements and to inspire more women to jump into careers in this space. These stories were anchored around one of this year’s themes for the celebration: “Cultivating Your Wolfpack.”
We've collected their stories here:
Nidhi Wadmark is the Director of Product Management at PayPal. She began her career at the Federal Reserve Bank and would go on to work in multiple domains, including fintech, healthcare, management consulting, and more. She believes the finance and tech sector is integral to every business and aspect of our daily lives. Her advice to new joiners would be to learn more about these industries and involve yourself with them directly or indirectly, as both are necessities.
While reflecting on her career, Nidhi said, “I am glad I worked my career and personal life at the pace and choices of the time. My success lay in my choice of pace, which allowed me the time when it mattered to be the mum first, and now the director first.”
Nidhi said that the women who helped shape her are her mom, sister, daughter, and in-laws. She also has made strong connections with women in leadership at work. She credits “my network of strong individuals […] who kept my biases in check and effortlessly widened my perspective.”
Inside and outside of work, Nidhi is a mentor for students, aspiring product managers, and those early in their career or founder journey. “My work as a Women in Product chapter lead and as Global Co-chair for our Employee Resource Group, Thrive, has unfolded avenues to both learn and give back to the community in ways I had not anticipated.”
Gangadevi Balakrishnan is a software engineer in the Global Compliance Verification Policy and Platform team at PayPal. Her team helps customers around the world ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. “Each day is different for me: my activities change according to the tasks that I am working on,” she shared. “For example, if I am working on a batch job, then most of my time will be spent on writing codes and testing. If I am working on finding ways to improve API maturity level, then most of my time will be spent on investigating, researching, and discussing with the API maturity team.”
One of the things that she loves about working at PayPal is its open and inclusive culture. “When I was a newbie in my team and was hesitant about sharing my views, my team members always encouraged me to speak and actively listened to what I had to say. This is something that I appreciate a lot as their encouragement made me step out of my comfort zone and be more vocal.”
Gangadevi recognized her “wolfpack” as the family and friends who have positively influenced her personality and career outlook which has benefited her in her career journey. Within PayPal, Gangadevi also credited her teammates and the entire compliance department for being encouraging. She also shared with us her tip for women who are interested in joining the fintech industry, “Some of us might fear entering the tech industry, thinking that we don’t have enough technical knowledge. However, it's important to not let such fears stop us, and to instead use these fears to help us to grow.”
Lena Polyak is a Senior Manager in Machine Learning at PayPal Israel. She leads a group of big data developers inside the heart unit of the Global Data Science organization. She joined PayPal a year ago and said it has been one of the best years in her 25-year career in technology. Outside of work, Lena is a mom of two children and likes to spend her free time at Pilates lessons and traveling with her family.
While reflecting on the support she has received throughout her career journey, Lena said, “My career journey is relatively long, almost 26 years. I was extremely lucky to start my career with a remarkable manager […] who saw first the person within each engineer.” Lena also credited her husband, “who tells me every day that he believes in me, and all the people in different organizations who I have been lucky to work with.”
Lena shared that she joined PayPal because of three main reasons: her incredible manager, cutting-edge technology, and a culture “where everyone can be themselves.”
Joanna Koh started her career as a software developer and went on to become a tech project manager. Today, she manages the strategic programs and innovation lab teams at PayPal’s Singapore Development Center. Her role’s key focus areas are on executing organizational development, operational, and innovation agendas.
Joanna has enjoyed multiple role changes within the past 10 years, and each change has enhanced her learning and growth tremendously. She expressed gratitude for her numerous colleagues and managers who have guided her throughout her career journey. “PayPal believes in empowering employees to discover their aspirations and then enabling them via a holistic approach – mentorship, opportunities, dedicated development tools so that they can become the best versions of themselves,” she said.
What is her advice to women looking to start a career in fintech? “While it may appear to be daunting what with the current lower representation of women in this industry, we need more women in tech roles today to break the cycle of the male-dominated industry and meet the tech talent demand. For products and programs to be truly designed and built for everyone, we need a balanced representation in their production! Diversity enables better problem solving which can boost innovation and productivity.”
When Joanna is not leading the way on PayPal’s latest innovation projects, she’s working on being a mentor, “I’m working on giving back now – nurturing and grooming people to grow in their careers so that they will find their roles fulfilling and meaningful.”
Prashanthi Ravanavarapu is the Senior Director of CX Product Enablement at PayPal, and her career within the company spans more than 15 years. While working at PayPal, she has had the opportunity to work in nine completely different and unique roles and various functions. Reflecting on her career, Prashanthi said, “I have been able to craft a career that helped me do what I love most - work on tough problems, getting from zero to one, enable impact all while having an incredible learning journey.”
Establishing a support network is integral to becoming successful. Prashanthi shared with us how her “wolfpack” has contributed to her success: “I am grateful for all those who believed in me and saw my potential. There were many leaders, colleagues, and friends who encouraged and supported me on tough journeys. They believed in my ideas and took a bet on my ideas like Opportunity Hack, Product Excellence @ PayPal, Justice by Design, etc. All I can do to repay the kindness and support of others is to pay it forward. I hope I can help others on their journey, especially those who might not be advocating for themselves or might not believe in themselves.”
As more women continue to break barriers in the technology and fintech fields, Prashanthi shared her tip on starting a career in these fields: “I have always learned skills on the job, by reading books or taking classes. Having a growth mindset and a willingness to put in the work to learn will help anybody get to a career of their choice.”
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