We’re delighted to welcome Milind Makwana as a new AI and Faith Advisor for AI product development and Faith ERGs. Milind is joining us as a result of his participation in the recent National Faith ERG Conference in Washington, DC.
Milind is a senior technical program manager at PayPal driving critical initiatives in the Payments space. Milind has been involved in increasingly responsible roles in program management and product development for 20 years, 10 of them at PayPal. Milind is the leader of the Hindu faith community within PayPal’s broader Faith Employee Resource Group – [Believe]. Milind is also the founder of Dharmatoys.com – a website catered towards offering faith-based toys, games & apparels. Milind has authored two kids books, his first book is “A Day in Life of a Hindu Kid” is highly rated and his second book was recently launched on Kickstarter. Milind holds a Bachelors Engineering degree in Electronics & Telecommunications and has completed his Advanced Program management course from Stanford.
Here Milind answers questions of David Brenner, AI&F’s Board Chair, about his work and what drives his leadership within PayPal Believe:
David: Milind, please tell us what led you into technology Program & Product development in general and specifically how you came to spend the past decade at PayPal?
Milind: After my Engineering degree, I was working for a consulting firm helping set up their engineering practices. I always wanted to work for a Product company and when the opportunity came to work for PayPal (a product which I had been using since I landed in the USA), I grabbed it.
My last decade at PayPal has been a roller coaster ride with its shares of ups and downs and making me a better professional and a person with each passing year.
PayPal is among the few companies in Silicon Valley which has a benefit of paid sabbatical every 5 years. It so happens that I am answering you’re your questions while I kick off my second sabbatical.
David: Fortunate you! Most of us non-tech professionals experience the retail end of PayPal as we make purchases and transfer funds. You see the whole picture. What kinds of products and programs have you recently been working on that may change how commerce happens?
Milind: PayPal’s unique proposition is its two sided network. PayPal is a payment processor (used by merchants) and also a payment method (used by consumers). I have been involved on both the Consumers and Merchants sides of the program helping to create better experiences for them.
David: We hear the label “Fintech” tossed about frequently and we’ve seen tremendous swings in the value of financial “products” like cryptocurrencies. Can you explain to us a bit more about the scope of “Fintech” and what benefits you see coming from it for human flourishing?
Milind: Fintech in simple terms is the combination of two words “Financial” & “Technology”. The broader meaning of Fintech is a company using technology to support financial services of any type for anyone. The scope of Fintech is extremely broad and has the potential to touch each and every one on this planet. One of the core missions of PayPal is also democratizing financial services, which means financial inclusion for everyone.
David: You are the leader of the Hindu faith community within PayPal’s broader Faith Employee Resource Group, Believe. At AI&F, we are especially excited about this new corporate vehicle for recognizing employees’ identification with their faith beliefs and desire to integrate those beliefs with their work life. How did your Hindu faith community come together at PayPal and in turn, become part of the Believe ERG, and what energizes your community in this gathering?
Milind: Believe ERG plays a fundamental role in bringing every one (irrespective of the faith they practice) together and by encouraging everyone to participate in each other’s festivals. One of the core Hindu festivals – Diwali has been celebrated at PayPal for the past 10+ years with great enthusiasm and joy. Believe ERG has provided us with a great structure which helps each faith-based community come together and celebrate.
David: Do your Hindu faith beliefs influence your own engagement with the development of tech products and the way you lead major programs at PayPal? Could you share an example or two?
Milind: Hindus believe that each aatma (loosely translated to soul) is potentially divine which enables us to see everyone equal. Hindus follow the 4 goals of life (called Purusharthas) namely – Dharma (righteousness), Artha (material wealth), Kama (desire) and Moksha (liberation). Empathy and compassion together are one of the core values of Hindu, and also one of the important skills required in today’s corporate world. Being Hindu stimulates a democratic way of thinking, accepting various viewpoints as seen from different perspectives. One cannot overestimate the importance of these values in today’s world. In my current role of leading a team of TPM’s, these values have helped me gain a better understanding of everyone around me and also provide me with valuable insights.
David: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Milind, and blessings, safety and peace during your sabbatical!