Paying it forward: Nurturing the next generation of fintech talent

Paying it forward: Nurturing the next generation of fintech talent

From its employees to students and small businesses, PayPal Singapore is working to build a community of lifelong learners.

Paying it forward: Nurturing the next generation of fintech talent
Mr Aaron Wong, PayPal Singapore’s chief executive officer, says that the firm encourages employees to ask questions and challenge the status quo. Photos: Mediacorp

According to PayPal Singapore’s chief executive officer Aaron Wong, democratising financial services is one of its key aims, and this spirit of inclusion extends to democratising learning opportunities.

Besides its Education Assistance Program that gives employees up to S$5,250 for a course they are enrolled in each year, PayPal is also committed to nurturing the next generation of financial technology (fintech) talent across several sector specialties, such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data science, engineering and innovation.

“To empower students with industry knowledge and cultivate a future-ready workforce, we partnered with tertiary institutions in Singapore to launch initiatives such as the PayPal Fintech Scholarship and PayPal Fintech Program,” said Mr Wong.

“We’ve also launched programmes like Empower and the Women Luminaries Program, to further enable female students who are passionate about technology to pursue a career in this field.”

PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST

Paying it forward: Nurturing the next generation of fintech talent
Company initiatives include the Singapore PayPal Innovation Lab, which collaborates with tertiary educational institutes to equip young Singaporeans with in-demand digital skills.

Lifelong learning is a key part of PayPal’s people-centric culture, which aims to be both supportive of and collaborative with its employees’ career development.

“Whether it’s learning on the job, from peers or subject matter experts, or through various training initiatives, we realise that employees see the value and are excited about these opportunities,” said Mr Wong.

Throughout their careers, PayPal’s employees engage in a combination of network and experiential learning, starting from junior roles. For example, interns get the chance to work alongside employees on projects that have a direct business impact.

PayPal also holds in-house tech engagement programmes. These include international hackathons like the Global Innovation Tournament and knowledge sharing sessions, known as R&D Tech Talks. “Since employees are the catalyst of innovation, we encourage them to ask questions, challenge the status quo and find solutions,” Mr Wong explained.

INNOVATING THROUGH COLLABORATIONS

Paying it forward: Nurturing the next generation of fintech talent
Lifelong learning is a key part of PayPal’s people-centric culture, which aims to foster its employees’ career development.

The Singapore PayPal Innovation Lab (PPIL) – which was established in 2016 – is one of six around the world, and is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between PayPal and the local fintech ecosystem.

“It carries out research and development, enables SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and nurtures next-generation fintech talent,” said Mr Wong.

The PPIL’s recent initiatives include the SME Business Challenge 2020, which aims to help SMEs in Singapore digitalise and use technology more effectively. The PPIL has also joined forces with tertiary educational institutes to equip young Singaporeans with in-demand digital skills. For example, it partnered Ngee Ann Polytechnic to give female students who are passionate about artificial intelligence the opportunity to develop their skills further.

EMPOWERING EMPLOYEES

Paying it forward: Nurturing the next generation of fintech talent
Mr Wong says that PayPal's spirit of inclusion extends to democratising learning opportunities.

PayPal’s championing of its employees’ development and learning won it the SkillsFuture Employer Awards 2020. Mr George Chen, a 33-year-old security threat management engineer at PayPal, said that having the opportunity to upskill and enhance his technical know-how has broadened his professional knowledge.

“For example, the Internet of Things (IOT) presents a lot of opportunities for security applications. I was able to set aside time for research and purchase relevant hardware to set up home-monitoring capabilities,” he said. “The idea is for me to one day apply these learnings to help PayPal within a corporate environment.”

Recently, Mr Chen’s team was granted two office hours per week for training courses in areas such as education and advancing interpersonal skills. Last year, PayPal sponsored his self-sourced course on Advanced Web Attacks and Exploitation from provider Offensive Security, after he expressed interest in studying the techniques, tactics and procedures of security adversaries during a meeting with his manager.

“In the second half of this year, I will be doing the Evasion Techniques and Breaching Defenses course,” Mr Chen said.

“I enjoy learning and applying new concepts at work. You may be surprised, but I look forward to work every day as there is so much to learn and contribute.”

Mr Chen added that for employees, PayPal’s lifelong learning culture indicates that their employer values them. “We feel more equipped and empowered. At the end of the day, employees are an asset to any company, and it is in our mutual interest to have continuous learning as a consistent effort.”

Presented by the President of the Republic of Singapore, the SkillsFuture Employer Awards honours organisations that champion their employees’ skills development and build a lifelong learning culture at the workplace. The awards comprise the SME and non-SME categories and are a symbol of excellence that helps companies gain a competitive edge in talent attraction and retention.

The SkillsFuture Employer Awards is open to all Singapore registered entities, including SMEs, corporations and voluntary welfare organisations. Apply for the SkillsFuture Employer Awards at skillsfuture.gov.sg/employerawards. Applications are open till March 21.

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