The Emcee Experience @PayPal 2022 Global RCG Conference

Intention: I wanted to take a moment to reflect on just how amazing it was to emcee the very first PayPal 2022 Global RCG Conference that took place Feb 15-17, 2022. I had the pleasure of leading the conversations with the 2021 RCG cohort and keynote speakers such as John Rainey, Sri Shivananda, and Kausik Rajgopal along with VPs, Directors, and leaders around the globe.


Logo design by MariaMané Akopyan

To get everyone on the same page, RCG translates to Recent College Graduate. For the last few months, the University Experience team worked hard to bring together over 300 recent college grads who joined us in 2021 from North America, India, Shanghai, and Singapore for three days of learning, networking, and having fun!


Now because this conference was GLOBAL, I could not have done this without the APAC emcees, Sakshi Sharma and Suraj Arulmozhi. When I first met up with Sakshi, Suraj, Gloria Cho (the Global University Experience Program Manager of this conference), and Aiswarya Das (the APAC Program Manager) to discuss conference preparation, we actually forgot to introduce ourselves to each other because the chemistry between all of us was phenomenal! It felt like we had already known each other for years!

Prior to the conference, the emcees also received the same swag that the RCGs received. I was excited when the box arrived as I have really enjoyed wearing the shirts and jackets that I've accumulated over from the 2018 internship, 2019 RCG conference, as well as other projects that I've been involved in throughout the past couple of years. Not only are the shirts and jackets very comfortable and of high-quality, it's also been really cool wearing the logos and designs. This Spring 2022 RCG collection was exceptional! I couldn't wait to wear these during the conference!

Now, fast-forward to Monday evening before the conference started on Tuesday evening. I met with the emcees and the University Experience team (Gloria, Melissa Aquino, Mindy Holt, Ava Toren, and Maria Akopyan from the North Americas region; Aiswarya and Priyanka Nayak from India region; Joanna Foo from Singapore region). We did a mock run-through of the show where the emcees went over our scripts to introduce the keynote speakers and leaders. In addition to the scripts, we had the corresponding PowerPoint slides and a fun playlist to accompany the speakers' entrances. Recalling the nostalgia from my performance days, it felt like a dress rehearsal!

Even though we had a mock run-through on Monday evening, we also had a second run-through on Tuesday morning. Despite having previous performance experience, I was both nervous and excited leading up to Tuesday night.


Day 1: Opening night!

Keynote Speaker: John Rainey
Our first keynote speaker serves as PayPal’s Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Global Customer Operations. As CFO, he is responsible for leading PayPal’s financial operations, corporate accounting, corporate finance, treasury, sourcing functions, and more. Bringing more than 20 years of financial management experience to his role, please put your hands together and let’s welcome John Rainey! 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿

At 6:30 PM PST, we kicked off with some fantastic career advice from John Rainey, CFO & EVP hosted by yours truly. This session was a fireside chat which meant that if the RCGs had any questions they could come onto the screen and directly ask, or I would read them from the Microsoft Teams chat. One key takeaway from speaking with John was that he emphasized the importance of communication. This meant having clarity about what you are asking for. Whether it's working with another colleague, outlining a career goal, or even giving a presentation, be clear about your intention. He also mentioned that communication is a learned skill, and shared that it took him time to build up this skill - which I never would have known because it seemed so natural for him!

As the host for this session, there were a number of great questions asked in the half hour that we had with John. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I was so inspired by what John had to say that I wrapped it up in a bottle and took it into the next day's sessions!


Magic Show
As it’s getting later for the North Americas, I’m going to bring on the APAC emcees, Sakshi and Suraj, and pass the introduction baton to them. Sakshi and Suraj, take it away! Suraj: Up next, we have an awesome magic show for you all to enjoy...

For the North Americas region, we wrapped up our evening with an entertaining show from Kevin Blake. From card tricks to illusions, I went between laughing and being in awe throughout the entire show! A number of RCGs were randomly selected to participate and even our very own emcee, Sakshi, turned out to be psychic! 😉


Day 2: The world is your oyster!

RCG through the Generations

A Fireside Chat of RCG Success Stories

Starring: Titus Woo, Senthil Vellaichamy, Bhavin Gawali, Aishwarya Sankaravadivel, and Liuyi Song.

Good Morning and Good Evening RCGs! For this fireside chat, we’ve got a wonderful panel of RCGs through the generations and I’m excited to learn more about their experiences at PayPal...

At 7:00 AM PST, we invited five RCG alumni to share their stories and experiences at PayPal hosted by our emcees, Sakshi and Suraj. A key takeaway from these discussions was that a good way to stay engaged is by finding problems to solve both in and outside of work. Within your own team, you can find opportunities to challenge yourself. In addition, there are numerous areas and teams within PayPal that you can collaborate with based off of your interests and what you find as fun challenges. I truly appreciated hearing about how each of the panelists' journey as each was so unique!


Leader: Lauren White

Creating authentic and impactful careers

Up next, our speaker has been with PayPal for over 10 years and during that time has had a number of roles... In the last two years, she has been serving on the Global Talent Development team as Director of Employee Engagement. Please put your hands together and let’s welcome to the stage, Lauren White! 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿

At 8:00 AM PST, we had the pleasure of learning and discussing about how we can bring our authentic selves to work. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations with the RCGs and Lauren White. One key takeaway was building a timeline of our life starting from birth to present to outline what were the highlights and low points of our life that form who we are today. Another takeaway was to ask for honest feedback. At first, it seems daunting to ask our coworkers and manager how we can improve. Lauren advised that this has to be exercised like a muscle to get more comfortable with incorporating the feedback and growing.


Leader: Christine Jensen

Becoming a customer centric organization

Up next, we have the Vice President of PayPal’s Global Customer operations. She’s been responsible for establishing sites in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Chennai India, and Chandler AZ. Her large internal network is a testament to her exceptional collaborational skills, how awesome is that? She has led both Operations and Support Teams during her 15 years at PayPal, everyone please welcome to the stage, Christine Jensen! 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿

At 9:30 AM PST, we got the opportunity to have a fireside chat with Christine Jensen and learn more about the Global Customer operations sector. She shared several interesting statistics such as the cost of each call at a call center, the satisfaction ratio, and Key Performance Indicators. I found myself coming up with a number of questions as my curiosity grew. One question I asked was,

With a number of products that the call center supports ranging from Venmo, Braintree, to PayPal's Buy Now Pay Later product, how do you get up to speed with each product that gets launched?

Her response was that she listens in on a lot of calls. Christine emphasized the importance of holding space for the customer to share their thoughts and frustrations and then figure out the best course of action to resolve. There are even times when the answer doesn't come right away which poses a fun challenge for her and the job families that she leads. An additional takeaway from this conversation is that we can create exceptional products as long as we continue to put our customers at the forefront of our minds.


Leader: Megan O'Neil

Venmo 101

For our next speaker, she is the Head of Design for Venmo... I’m going to let you all in on a little secret. This session is super important because you’ve got a stake in this one. I don’t want to hold the suspense any longer. Please give a warm welcome to Megan O'Neil! 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿

At 10:30 AM PST, Megan O'Neil shared with us a high-level overview about Venmo. She even shared the meaning behind the name "Venmo" (which I didn't know about either!) which includes the Latin root vendere ‘sell’ and ‘mo’ for mobile. It was exceptionally neat to see the different products within the app such as Peer-to-Peer transfer, Venmo Debit card, Venmo Credit Card, and Cryptocurrency. A full circle moment was that I played a role in developing the PayPal Credit back-end services that support the Venmo Credit Card. Out of my own curiosity, I also got to ask a question which was,

From artist to artist, how do you stay inspired?

Megan replied that she stays inspired by current events that are happening in her life as well as curating her social media outlets to give her that sense of inspiration and empowerment.

Leadership Speed Networking session
We have over 60 leaders from across the globe ranging from Directors, Senior Directors, to Vice Presidents who are all excited to talk to you and are waiting in the breakout rooms for you. Each room will also have a moderator who will help you in the discussion. Please join the respective link for the session you have signed up for and stick to the 10 minute deadline for the discussions. Once you’re done, please be back to this meeting invite for the upcoming ones.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed about the PayPal culture is the flat hierarchy where you have the opportunity to ask them anything you’ve been curious about PayPal-wise. In these sessions, the RCGs got the opportunity to ask the leaders questions and learn more from them. The moderators helping during these sessions were RCG alumni so it was a great way for the alumni to pay it forward.


Leader: Ava Toren

Persuasion and Presentation Skills

Up next, I have the pleasure of introducing one of the stars on the University Experience team. Known for her social media skills, quick thinking, and fun presence, please welcome to the stage, Ava Toren! 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿

At 1:30 PM PST, Ava Toren shared her personal experience of using her voice and how important it is to incorporate the skillset of presentation in our day-to-day lives as we conduct project demonstrations and knowledge shares to our team and organizations. A few takeaways is that it's important to make eye contact with our audience (in the virtual space, look directly at the camera), stand upright and speak slower than normal to emphasize key points (in the virtual space, utilize your standing desk if you have one), and most importantly, follow the framework of 1) Share your key points at the first part of your presentation, 2) Talk about your key points in further detail, 3) Summarize your key points at the end of your presentation to drive it home.


Leader: Maria Mileder

Persuasion and Presentation Skills

Up next, we have PayPal’s Global Head of Innovation. She’s passionate about solving complex problems and focuses on building and scaling innovation. She owns the global innovation strategy and its execution, oversees the global Innovation Ambassador program. And she is also responsible for driving PayPal’s contributions within the financial services industry and the field of Innovation in general. Please welcome to the stage, Maria Mileder! 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿

At 1:30 PM PST, Maria Mileder shared the knowledge and application of 10X Thinking. Whereby thinking outrageously and having no boundaries, we can then figure out how to bring these thoughts back into the solutions we are creating to improve the financial lives of our customers. In this session, she also shared about the Lean Canvas framework which is a one-page format for brainstorming possible business models. On this page are 10 blocks that guide you through logical steps starting with your customer problems right through to your unfair advantage (often the hardest block to answer). Out of my own curiosity, I asked Maria,

What do you feel helps fuel your innovation?

To summarize, Maria shared about how she finds it fascinating to put yourself in a somewhat uncomfortable experience. Let's take for example, hiking. When you're walking through the dirt and physically pushing your body, if it's uncomfortable for you at first, your mind will start wandering as a way to distract you from the current situation. In these wanderings, you'll have multiple thought streams and get creative about developing these entertaining thoughts in your head.

To me, this was extremely fascinating to have this process articulated. What I appreciate, is that an uncomfortable situation can push your brain to create space for getting creative about making the uncomfortable comfortable. This can also be applied to any problem that's waiting to be solved. Throughout this entire session, I felt like I was in an interactive Ted Talk because of the knowledge shared as well as the wonderful discussions that took place.


Fireside Chat with Leaders

Starring: Chris McGraw, Chandramouliswaran V, PhD, Gurbakhsh Singh and Yongmei Xue

Good Morning and Good Evening RCGs! For this fireside chat, we’ve got a wonderful panel of leaders who have been with PayPal for at least 10 years and have held multiple positions...

At 6:30 PM PST, we invited four leaders to share their stories and experiences at PayPal hosted by our emcee, Sakshi. I enjoyed the synergy between our Global Leaders along with learning about transitioning to leadership positions and what making "difficult" decisions entails. A key takeaway about transitioning to leadership positions is that at PayPal, you have the opportunity to try it and if by chance, you find that it isn't a good fit for you, you can transition to your previous position. In addition, the path isn't linear as well.


Day 3: Encore!

Keynote Speaker: Kausik Rajgopal
Good Morning and Good Evening, RCGs! For this fireside chat, this leader is the Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, responsible for global workforce planning, talent acquisition and evaluation, compensation, benefits, learning and development, as well as culture, diversity and inclusion initiatives... Please give a warm welcome to the stage, Kausik Rajgopal! 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿

At 7:30 AM PST, I got the pleasure of hosting a fireside chat with Kausik Rajgopal. Right off the bat, RCGs expressed their appreciation of the Wellness Day initiative and asked questions about continuing the health and satisfaction of PayPal employees, his transition from McKinsey to PayPal, our stock compensation plan, and his plan for diversity and inclusion initiatives. A key takeaway is that I was truly impressed by Kausik's empathy and attention to detail that he conveyed throughout speaking with the RCGs. One of PayPal's cultural values is Inclusion and I felt that Kausik placed a great emphasis on this.


Venmo Ideathon

Between Day 2 and Day 3, the RCGs had less than 24 hours to come up with an idea to present to the leaders of Venmo and Innovation at PayPal around Venmo's gift-wrapping feature that recently debuted. At 5:30 PM PST, I got to hear all of the innovative ideas that the RCGs came up with along with the presentations from the Top 4 followed by the reveal of the winning team of the Ideathon. I definitely do not want to spoil the ideas so I'd recommend for you to download the Venmo app and try out the gift-wrapping feature yourself! You just might see a new idea from our very own 2021 cohort of RCGs.


Trivia + RCG Framework

The RCGs participated in a fun "Squid Games" Kahoot! trivia led by one of the super stars on the University Experience team, Maria Akopyan. With "Squid Games" being so well-known, the RCGs had a lot of fun entering in their answers as quick as they could to see who would make it into the top 3. It was great seeing the RCGs have fun as well and discussing the show with those who had watched it.

The University Experience team also shared about the 2-year RCG program that provides opportunities in the areas of University Recruitment outreach, joining the site-specific RCG Committees, and also being a part of the RCG-Intern buddy program that happens each summer. Being a part of the Scottsdale RCG Committee myself, it's a great way to connect with your fellow RCGs and even those in North America during these virtual times.


Keynote Speaker: Sri Shivananda
Good Morning and Good Evening, RCGs! It gives me the immense pleasure to introduce the Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at PayPal. He's a hands on leader with a passion for innovating on technologies, building effective teams and a focus on delivering competitively superior technology solutions to the business while growing people in the organization and creating high performance teams... Please put your hands together and let's welcome Sri Shivananda! 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿

At 6:30 PM PST, the RCGs got the opportunity to geek out with Sri Shivananda hosted by our APAC emcee, Suraj. We asked Sri questions ranging from "Are you a Star Trek or Star Wars fan?" to "What advice would you give to the RCGs who are starting out in their career?" It was such an enjoyable time talking with Sri that we ended up extending this fireside chat to an hour! With the extra time, I got to ask him a question,

With new technologies, how do you go about evaluating them and seeing if they'd fit into PayPal's technology ecosystem?

Sri eloquently replied that while he is not the sole person for each technology that's introduced as he empowers the tech leads and architects to do so, he does have a framework for evaluating technologies that allows you to have the metrics needed for technical questions that arise. He introduced to us the COWS framework which stands for: C - Criteria (What you want to get from the piece of software/technology?), O - Options ( the which), W - Weight (weight of the criteria), S - Scores (score each option against each criteria). If you have a spreadsheet, the matrix is the what (rows) and which (columns). Then you put the score into each cell. All of the weights make 100 and all of the scores make 100. For every criteria and option, you use the formula: ΣWS. When you do ΣWS at the bottom, you now have clear winners/losers. Now you have the why explanation.

The icing on the cake is that right after I asked my question, the other APAC emcee Sakshi had a question as well. Thanks to the superb spotlighting from the University Experience team, we all managed to get a picture with Sri. As advice for the RCGs, Sri shared the four ingredients that he feels will help you succeed. 1) IQ - Intelligence Quotient which accounts for up to 30% of your success. 2) EQ - Emotional Quotient which involves self awareness and self management. 3) CQ - Curiosity Quotient which translates to being a lifelong learner. 4) Tenacity and Grit to overcome the challenges you face along your journey.


That's A Wrap!

In closing, I feel honored to have had the opportunity to host the first virtual PayPal 2022 Global RCG Conference with my fellow APAC emcees, Sakshi and Suraj. I had such a memorable time facilitating the conversations that happened between the RCGs and leaders! There was so much knowledge and advice that was quite applicable - I'm still soaking it all in! Before, during, and after the sessions, the University Experience team and RCGS put together a Spotify playlist that had me dancing throughout the entire conference!

I also wanted to mention that it was an absolute pleasure working with Gloria and the University Experience team. Their commitment, dedication, energy, and motivation in both the preparation and execution phases were truly outstanding! We really came together as one team which exemplifies PayPal's culture!

I'm truly grateful for this entire experience, and this conference will remain a memorable and fun highlight of my career! Thank you for reading! 🙌🏻