Issue 08

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Vikram Narayan

Managing Director & Country Manager, India

Vikram joined PayPal India in April 2014 as Managing Director & Country Manager India

A successful General Manager with over three decades of experience. Key focus areas include Strategy, Business Development, all India Operations and Regulatory & Public Affairs for leading multi-national companies. A catalyst with a track record of building highly engaged teams to exceed business results consistently. Built businesses in Credit Information, Decision Analytics, Digital Marketing, Retail Asset Lending and Inventory Finance. Achieved consistent high-growth and reached global benchmarks in customer service & portfolio quality.

Prior to joining PayPal, Vikram was the Managing Director & Country Manager, of Experian Services India Pvt. Ltd. Prior to Experian, Vikram led a business unit of GE Commercial Finance in India and also was the President & CEO of Transamerica Apple Distribution Finance Pvt. Ltd.

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1. What was the mandate given to you by the Board when you took over in your role?

Prior to my appoinment, PayPal had been organically growing its Cross Border business and thousands of Indian merchants export profitably to multiple countries.

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2. How much of that has been achieved? What were the challenges faced?

We are present in India though our Cross Border Trade operations. CBT is an area of enormous potential for PayPal and Indian merchants of all sizes.

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3. How do you respond to the needs of changing market scenario (with an example)?

India is a vibrant market with immense opportunities. We at PayPal have our finger on the pulse of our merchants and consumers and are constantly listening to their needs.

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4. How has the market evolved in the last few years?

Over the past 40 years the payments industry has evolved into a complex eco system comprising of financial institutions and intermediaries, technology and service providers.

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5.What are the key challenges your organization is facing currently? And what are the steps you are taking?

PayPal is not only a payments service provider but we manage risk and educating our audiences is a key differentiator.

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6. How have the changes in technology/globalization/economy affected your sector?

The rise of smartphones; payment bank licences from RBI; the huge amount of global capital coming into the payment industry will all lead to disruption.

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7. What is your talent strategy? How do you draw the balance between home grown vs lateral hiring at the leadership level?

Our focus is to attract the best global talent from diverse fields and keep them motivated. PayPal has been featured as one of the best places to work in India for 4 years in a row.

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8. How does your organization identify and develop future leaders?

All leaders work with their direct reports to ensure Career Development Plans are completed. We spend time to understand which of our employees aspire to be leaders.

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9. What are the 3 key aspects you look at when you hire your direct reports?

Acamedic and employment pedigree being hygiene factors, I personally focus on the soft factors.

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10. How does the growth prospect of your organization look like for the next 12-24 months?

India is a significant part of PayPal and we are looking to play a meaningful role in fast growing domestic e-Commerce & payments market in the near future.

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11. Will there be any significant change in the market dynamics in next few years? If so, what steps are you taking for the same?

The Indian payments landscape is evloving rapidly day by day and a number of players have entered the system. The RBI has also recently issued licenses for payment banks.

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12. In a world full of volatility, Uncertainty, complexity & Ambiguity (VUCA), innovation has become one of the most important factor to transform a crisis into an opportunity. How do you promote Innovation?

At PayPal, we believe we have entered a new era – the era of the People Economy. Fueled by the innovations in digital and mobile technology combined with the wants and needs of people, the People Economy will revolutionize how individuals create, share, buy, sell, and trade value.

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13. How Indian leaders can become Global Leaders?

There has been a growing trend of Indian managers being preferred for global roles. At PayPal ~10% of our global workforce comes from India.

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14. What are the shortcomings and strengths of Indian Leaders?

The strengths of Indian leaders are that they learn to be agile and are able to work in less than perfect situations. Each state is a different country in India and similarly consumers needs are diverse.

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15. What are the 3 most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are today?

When I returned to India from the US in 1985, for certain personal reasons I was restricted to look for jobs within Bangalore and at that point of time there were not enough openings in the financial services sector.

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16. What key lessons have you learnt from any mistakes, if any, made in the past? How would you do it differently?

In the early phase of my career, I had not yet fully developed my ability to be a patient listener and weighed in with my personal opinion very early on in a discussion.

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17. How do you define & practice leadership?

I have followed the following basic tenets throughout my career :

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18. What message would you like to share with young professionals at the start of their career?

I strongly believe in the saying “ a rolling stone gathers no moss”. Once a young professionals has identified a suitable position.

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