Grow together, be the best team — The story of Rapha
The Fintech Merchant is a team at Coupang Pay that engages in highly varied tasks over a wide range of domains, by utilizing the most diverse sets of technologies. The team is characterized by delightful and lively members, despite the limited resources and time constraints. This time, we have selected Rapha, the leader of Fintech Merchant, as our interviewee to learn about the culture he wants to build for his team and his ideals about Coupang Pay.
Please introduce yourself and your role.
Hello. I’m using Rapha as my nickname at Coupang Pay. When I was younger, I loved the American sitcom “The Wonder Years” and the main character Kevin. I was going to use Kevin as my nickname here, but it was already taken by many. So, I decided to use my favorite brand as my nickname. I joined Coupang in 2016 as a developer and had this role for about 3 years. Currently, I’m the development manager of Fintech Merchant, a team composed of highly competent and delightful members. I should say my team is responsible for quite a lot of tasks. To name a few, there is the Coupang Cash that you use for making a purchase on Coupang. Also, due to Coupang’s market expansion to Taiwan and Japan, we are responsible for the card payment system in these countries. There are other tasks that we handle, but I resist the temptation to talk further (smiles).
What are Coupang Pay’s strengths in your opinion?
Coupang Pay almost felt like a start-up company when I first joined. There was a bunch of talented individuals addressing each other by nicknames, needing to have their curiosity satisfied and discussing freely on how to find answers. They were very focused on getting to the core of the issues without the unnecessary formalities. Coupang Pay still values identifying and resolving issues through active communication, rather than focusing too much on having things documented or following procedures.
Your postings on the Brunch blog are gaining popularity. What are the messages you’d like to convey through the postings?
I believe in the power of having a good culture. It is very difficult and takes a lot of courage for a person to suggest code review to a development team, if nobody has done it before. I wanted to let others know the good development culture that I’ve learned first-hand at Coupang Pay. I’ve decided to write the postings because I wanted help the budding developers find their way and also have the opportunity to put together what I’ve learned so far. The space has only two posting so far, but I plan to write more if I can find the time (smiles).
An excerpt from Rapha’s Brunch posting titled “Call my nickname” under “Coupang Pay Development Culture and Playbook” section
■ Rapha publishes “Coupang Pay Development Culture and Playbook” series on his Brunch blog. The first posting “Code Review” and the second posting “Call my nickname” have been well received by his colleagues. Please visit his Brunch blog to learn more about Coupang Pay’s development culture.
- Rapha’s Bruch blog: https://brunch.co.kr/@rapha
It seems that you spend much time thinking about organization culture. As the leader and one of the developers of Fintech Merchant, what is the culture you wish to build for your team?
I would say I have a goal to achieve rather than a culture to create. I want Fintech Merchant to be the best team there is. The ultimate goal of an engineering team should be to achieve the best results within the given resources and time. We have too many things to do but only a limited number of resources and time is available. What we can do under these circumstances is to make the applications as stable as possible, automate repetitive operational tasks (and handle them without delay) and avoid re-doing a task through accurate capture of the requirements. Through these activities, we can reduce operation costs and open up the room for working on new developments. Following these cycles over and over helps our team members to enhance development capabilities.
I heard that you are very much focused on reviewing codes. Under the current situation where developers mostly work from home, could you provide some tips on how to do the review efficiently?
Ha ha ha, I don’t think there is any special know-how for me to share. However, working from home does make it difficult to provide explanations, especially when they can be done easily by drawing diagrams, flow charts, etc. I thought about buying a digital pencil but ended up not doing it because I wasn’t satisfied with the quality. Code review can be a burdensome task for engineers. At Coupang Pay, however, the reviewers and reviewees have more or less the same goals and respect each other, so there have not been any issues.
Could you provide Fintech Merchant’s views about the ideal talent for the team?
I can’t think of anything special. I like people who radiate positive energy (smiles). If there is one such person in a team, the positive energy can easily spread. Another thing I want to talk about is teamwork. We wouldn’t know this as long as the applications we are responsible for work smoothly. When they go wrong, however, it’s an opportunity to find out how good the teamwork is. I believe a team comprised of members that are full of energy and eager to solve problems together grows stronger teamwork. In fact, most large-scale system failures are resolved by a team, rather than by an individual.
If you are to rate yourself, what’s your score?
I would give 2 out of 5 for the present self, but just a 1 for myself back in 2016 when I first joined Coupang. I’ve learned a lot from then, so I deserve a 2 now (smiles). I believe what Coupang Pay expects from a manager differs from that of other companies. We are required to take action. I should know the business and the logic, make decisions quickly and manage team members. There is still a lot to learn.
Who do you recommend for the next interview, and why?
I would like to recommend Edwin, the head of Coupay team. I should say he is the brain of Coupang Pay’s payment system. I want Edwin to tell us more about his team.
We thank Rapha for gladly taking the time despite his busy schedule for this interview.
Coupang Pay is hiring.
If you are interested, please check the link here for further details. We look forward to hearing from you.