PayPal's Jayashree Sundaresan Channels Energy Into Positive Work

Apr 3, 2017 1:00 PM ET
It's not in her job title, but PayPal's Jayashree Sundaresan is a technology leader as well as a people person. Personal success, she says, is to help others succeed – from guiding her engineers as Director of Global Operations Product Development, to mentoring women re-entering the tech world. It all starts with her relentless energy, which she applies to leading successful projects at work to exercising (she has a mean badminton game), to event planning in her community and even singing.
Global Operations Product Development is a global function and you're based in Chennai. What's your role there?
I lead the product development team in building tools and applications for the GlobalOps back-office team. I like to think of GlobalOps as the hands of PayPal because when our customers run into an issue, GlobalOps enables the touchpoint with the customer.
I wear different hats that play to my technology background, as well as my people skills. It gives me a lot of joy when I see something in people they don't see in themselves. I have about 70 people in my team and I am constantly looking around thinking, 'OK, is this person happy with what they're doing? Are they playing to their strengths?' It gives them confidence knowing, 'hey I have your back, you can try this and we'll see how it plays out.'
Is there a particular initiative you’re proud of?
I've been leading PayPal Unity in Chennai for three years and it has helped women look at me as a go-to resource. Female colleagues ping me and ask, 'would you have five minutes to chat?' It could be something personal like, 'how do you manage work and kids/family?' Or, 'I'm not getting this opportunity in my group, what do you think I should do?' It's not like I have a solution for everything, but I can reflect on my experience and share what might or might not work. When they try it out and later say that I was helpful, it’s very fulfilling.
Within Unity, I really connect with the Girls in Tech program which is about instilling a passion for STEM in girls from an early age. We put together a weeklong camp with coding in the morning and the afternoon open for the kids to experience PayPal and its people. We had them shadow engineers, go to a Toastmasters workshop, a Unity presentation, and even sessions on self-esteem. A lot of PayPal employees volunteered and came back refreshed because being around 30 kids naturally bumps up your energy.
The Recharge boot camp to help women re-enter the tech world led to 10+ PayPal hires. How are they working out?
The feedback from the interviewers is that the kind of passion and the 'eager to go' attitude that these women have is something that you may not find in regular hiring. These women who were on a break are genuinely excited to come back to work. It was hugely satisfying and a second edition of Recharge will launch in the first quarter of 2017.
How do you juggle your tech responsibilities with your passion for people?
I’m a very restless soul - I have this hyper-energy in me. One of the things I love about PayPal is that I have an outlet to channel my energy in positive ways. I get to do things close to my heart like participating in Unity programs, leading Wellness programs, having opportunities to sing and dance, playing sports and helping people succeed.
I do get a lot of support at home. Our moms live with us to help out with the kids and my husband encourages anything I want to do. Without them having my back, I don’t know if I could juggle so many things. I am very grateful that PayPal lets me bring my entire personality to work. The underlying thread that drives me is a lot of positivity, a sense of adventure, fearlessness and purpose.
Singing is a passion of yours - are there PayPal connections to that?
I recorded a song for an upcoming Telugu movie Taarajuvvalu that's produced by another PayPal employee. I also sing with Resonance PayPal in Chennai. And in 2011 I was selected to give a presentation at a tech summit. At the time, we were watching The Sound of Music back-to-back-to-back at home because my children and I loved it, so I said, 'Why don't I write a song about my favorite things at PayPal?' That karaoke version was my presentation. It was one of the most memorable days of my PayPal life and even now, fellow colleagues that I have never met come and tell me they enjoyed the song.