Interview of Manish Bhatia: CTO – Amazon Pay

Manish Bhatia

He joined Amazon in 2009 and he is presently the Chief Technology Officer for Amazon Pay in India. He is chartered to build innovative digital products for on-Amazon and doorstep payments experience, financing programs, issuance of gift cards, stored value accounts, co-branded credit cards, third party merchant acceptance, and high-frequency digital categories. Prior to joining Amazon Pay, he headed the World Wide eCommerce Platforms group in India and spearheaded multiple Amazon internal innovations which resulted in top-line and bottom-line growth in the field of Front-End optimizations, Shopping Cart, Checkout, Ordering, Storage, Seller Central, Gift Wrap, Aggregation Services and Operational Excellence.  While at Amazon he co-founded 2 new businesses like Amazon Home Services and Amazon Custom.   

Before Amazon, he has worked for 2 Start-ups and for companies like FedEx Office and JP Morgan Chase. I have a Master’s degree in Computer Science.  

What inspired you to join the above company or this sector?

With exponential growth in digitization and easier access to mobile phones and fast internet, India has a record number of people coming online to explore and shop. Technology is rightly poised to support cash habituated citizens transitioning to digital natives and the fin-tech sector in India will likely be the trendsetter worldwide. 

What is your life mantra?

It’s all about the long-term. Arguably, long-term thinking is a huge lever and the biggest differentiator. It prevents us from making short-term / knee jerk decisions which generally result in compromised or me-too products. 

What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?

One of the most difficult things for me was to accept failure and move to another idea. I consider myself a rational optimist and over time I have realized that these failures are actually differed successes which have an interesting way of providing closure 😉 Just don’t give up on them easily.

How do you protect yourself from the problem of brain drain?

Techies gravitate to tougher problems, which in turn provides more opportunities to grow. Brain drain is a result of not having enough opportunities and unsolved problems to be worked on in India. Personally, I am seeing the tides turn where companies and start-ups working on India-first initiatives and state of the art problems which is resulting in a lower number of techies moving abroad for opportunities.

Share one habit that you think makes you more productive?

High intensity but short bouts where I find myself completely committed (physically and mentally) is how I think I am most productive. This applies to both professional and personal engagements and provides a sense of accomplishment once done.

Answer in one line

  • One tip to success: Invent the future and evolve to it.
  • One mistake you believe every individual must avoid: Don’t repeat the same mistake the 2nd time.
  • One most important lesson that you have learned till now: Don’t walk around with your glass full, be open to feedback and change.
  • Apps you can’t live without: None
  • Key in the workplace: Evangelization is the necessary energy required for action.

If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?

The good part about life and career is that you can’t predict the future but potentially intricate planning provides a sense of influencing it. I am personally a drifter, who gets obsessed with different ideas from time to time and luckily there are infinite possibilities and outcomes. I like it that way, else someone would have hacked out an algorithm called “success”.

Share a quote that inspires you the most.

Be the change you wish to see in the world – Gandhi

What makes you excited about Mondays?

I think and act in a continuum, which essentially means that Mondays or 1st of every month or New Year’s is not dramatically different from any other day. I work hard and have fun every single day, and try to make a difference incrementally, while aligning to a larger cause.

According to you how self-worth and happiness important in a job?

I would not let organizations or individuals decide your self-worth. Every individual has a unique finger-print and one has to discover what is genuinely unique about you which no one else can replicate, and double down on it. Being genuine and understanding your unique finger-print will keep you in a happy state and is super important in any job. 

Describe some difficult leadership situations and how you managed people through them?

As a leader of a large organization, we have to lead adaptive changes which requires new learning or completely new mental models. During an adaptive change, people don’t want questions; they want answers. I think the trick is managing the rate at which people can absorb the change and finding ways to accelerate them. If you go faster than the rate at which people can absorb the change it could result in projects falling through the cracks and failing. The difficultly for any leader is how to balance it.

What’s your opinion about StartupLanes?

StartupLanes provides much-needed support, resources and networking opportunities to maximize Start-up success.