Rotation 5 — A Tribute to Technology Leadership Program @ PayPal

We’re named Rotation 5 for a reason.

We were introduced to each other at PayPal through the Technology Leadership Program. We were part of the initial batch of 9, the Class of 2013.

Technology Leadership Program (a.k.a. TLP) was the brainchild of Aimie Aronica. Its primary purpose was to develop the next generation of leaders at PayPal. It is a two-year rotation program where the cohorts were given the opportunity to move to a new group every six months. The success of rotation is defined by what you learned, what you delivered, its impact and how the host team sustains after you have moved on.

Almost every one of these rotations is high-pressure high-impact projects, and the expectations were huge! Someone rightly described it as “being thrown into the middle of the ocean to see if you can swim.” What we had to stay afloat during times of need were each other and a few good mentors and sponsors within the company.

To survive and to thrive we learned and applied the following

1. Stay Curious

If you have ever watched Phineas and Ferb, yes, the animated TV series for kids, you would have come across Isabella Garcia-Shapiro. I call her Ms. Curious. She was my goddess during the initial days of those rotations. Her favorite catchphrase in the show is “Whatcha’ Doin’?!” and that used to be our mantra too.

Look, six months is a short time to do anything meaningful in this situation. I mean, you are moving to a new group, a NEW GROUP! It’s like joining a new company and you can imagine the challenges that come with it; a new boss, a new team, new team dynamics, sometimes a new domain and in some cases a new city or a new country. So all the newness makes those six months even shorter and harder to achieve anything meaningful unless you stay curious.

Our strategy was to meet as many people as possible in the first month and ask as many “Whatcha’ Doin’?”’s as possible.

2. Measure Time Not in Days, But in Experience

Also, did I tell you that we were the first batch? That meant the expectations on us were huge. We were representing our teams where we came from, we represented the program, and we also represented the future of the program. We were supposed to the best of the best and sometimes overachievers, and this meant just one thing; if you did not break under pressure, you got so much delivered in a matter of six months.

A fellow cohort once said, “Now I don’t measure time by the number of days, but by the number of things that I learned and delivered.” We learned that we could get a lot of things done in six months.

3. Ask for Help

The most important thing that we learned from the program was that people are always willing and ready to help and all that you have to do is ask.

TLP gave us a ticket to knock on anyone’s door and an opportunity to ask questions and we used it very wisely. It helped us build a vast network of host managers, mentors, and thought leaders from different parts of the company with different points of views. The hive system that we created helped us through the program and for a long time after.

Fast-forward to February 2017: we have moved companies, we are still good friends, and we find ourselves at a place where we are both out of work; Priya taking time off to set things right for her family and Reeves thinking about taking a break from corporate life.

So on April 1st, 2017, with the want to do something meaningful that can make a difference in peoples lives, Priya and I decided to give ourselves six months, to take up a new challenge and put everything that we learned to use for something good.

We called these 6 months our Rotation 5.

These six months had the same elements of newness like the other four rotations during TLP. To add to this, we did not have our cohorts to draw support from, nor did we have the safety net of a big corporation and the readily available resources that comes with it. We were to do this on our own. We were in the middle of the ocean, and this time, we jumped voluntarily.

Curiosity gave the start, necessity kept us focused, books kept us informed, failure gave us patience, artificial deadlines kept us motivated, our families gave us the strength and friendship kept us together. Above all, we believe the universe conspired with us every step of the way. Necessity steered us towards Parenting. Talking to other parents made us realize the magnitude of the challenge faced by modern-day parents and the urgency of the situation.

The most important thing of all, whenever we got stuck, we were able to tap into the network that we created before and during TLP to get unstuck. Right from our development team at Impiger Technologies to our patent attorney, Pat we found through our network. Some of these connections became our sounding board, advisors, and mentors during The Journey West.

By the end of 6 months, we had a good understanding of the problem space, we had a vision for the product, and we had a development team working towards a delivery date.

Today, we have S’moresUp, a platform that helps modern-day parents tackle parenting challenges through the use of technology. We have made a difference in thousands of families, and we are so fortunate and thankful for the same. None of these would have been possible without TLP and the network that we built through the program.

Rotation 5 is a tribute to the Technology Leadership Program at PayPal. Rotation 5 is the culmination of a lot of things that shape us and define us. Rotation 5 is the fruit of a lot of people who helped us with our journey and who gave us the courage to move forward and make a difference.

Thank you all and thank you, TLP!