Spotlight Series: A Conversation with Allister Phan

Spotlight Series
September 22, 2022

In the PayNearMe Spotlight series, we shine a light on the people that make our company thrive. In this month’s interview, we sat down with Allister Phan, Marketing Operations Manager, to chat about his role in the company, key projects and his hobbies outside of work.

Q: Can you tell us about your career journey and what led you to PayNearMe? 

Allister Phan: After graduating from UC Irvine, I started working for an education company in a management and sales role for their learning centers. During that time, I was working closely with the marketing manager and I had the opportunity to take on marketing projects.

Soon the company moved to Salesforce and I was heavily involved with on-boarding the tool. From there I took ownership of more marketing and sales tools for the company. After a while I wanted to move out of education and into the tech space which led me to apply to PayNearMe.

Q: Have you always wanted to pursue a career in Marketing Operations?

AP: No, not at all. I actually graduated college with a degree in Biology. I planned to pursue a career in Physical Therapy but realized it wasn’t for me. After I graduated, I decided to do something completely opposite which led me to sales and marketing for the education company.

Q: How has PayNearMe helped you in your career development?

AP: PayNearMe helped me tremendously in that they provided me my first opportunity to work in the fintech space. During my time here, I’ve learned the breadth of my role and have been heavily involved with scaling how marketing operations evolves to support our growing team.

Q: What are some of the courses and resources that you leverage for continuing learning?

AP: To stay on top of trends and enhancements of tools that we use, I’ve had the opportunity to attend several Salesforce workshops. I appreciate that PayNearMe is committed to prioritizing continuing education resources to our team.

Additionally, many of the tools we use are well documented online so I take advantage of blogs and message boards when I have an issue I can’t solve. One resource that has helped me the most is my mentor, Tom. We meet monthly to connect on my projects and he’ll share feedback to ensure I’m on the right track.

Q: Do you have any advice to share with those who are just getting into the fintech industry who might want to join a company like PayNearMe?

AP: The initial learning curve can feel quite daunting, especially if you don’t have experience in the fintech space–but if you join with an open mind you’ll do well. PayNearMe is unique in that we have such a low customer churn.

If you’re looking to join a company that continuously prioritizes not only their customers, but employees, definitely check out our open roles.

Q: You’ve been with PayNearMe for just over five years. What are some of your favorite things about working here, and what are some reasons you’ve stayed?

AP: I initially joined to be part of a more transparent organization that values work-life balance, and I’ve stayed because of the team. Even while being a fully remote organization, the people here are truly great.

Q: Let’s shift the focus to your role. What does a day in the life of a Marketing Operations Manager look like?

AP: It’s different each day but a constant would be the influx of requests I receive across the teams.

In my role I work with many departments and with that, my priority is optimizing and creating more automated tasks. I always tell people that my primary goal is to automate myself out of a job.

Q: Can you reflect on something you’re most proud of since starting in a new role at the company five years ago?

AP: Since I’ve been with PayNearMe, there have been a couple issues that didn’t seem to have been previously troubleshooted or documented online. My proudest accomplishment in my role is being able to develop a solution, especially with Salesforce that can be duplicated for the future.

Additionally, as we’ve scaled the company, evaluating new tools and onboarding tools that can grow with us has been rewarding to lead. I’ve had the opportunity to see our sales and marketing function increase by the dozens.

Q: What are some things that you’ve learned about yourself while working at PayNearMe?

AP: I really enjoy hacking into tools and customizing tools to work for us when the out-of-the-box version isn’t ideal. While I don’t code (yet) I also enjoy learning SQL so I hope to have that added to my list in the future.

Q: So what about you—what kinds of activities or hobbies are you interested in outside of work?

AP: In my free time I participate in Muay Thai, which is sometimes referred to as Thai boxing, a close combat sport that uses the entire body. I am also an avid paraglider and enjoy other outdoor sports like rock climbing, snowboarding and backcountry snowboarding.

I like making things. I do a lot of woodworking, jewelry making, sculptures and other random items like watch holders and picture frames.

Recently I visited Colombia with a paragliding group. We took off from 3,000 feet and eventually flew up to almost 5,000 feet. The views were amazing. Luckily the locals are very friendly to paragliders and it’s commonplace to hitch a ride back into town when you land.

Q: Is there anything that you take from paragliding that you can apply to work?

AP: Similar to Marketing Operations, with paragliding, there is so much pre-planning and assessing that goes into the sport. We are constantly evaluating the weather and wind forecast.

There’s a joke within the paragliding community that half of the time we’re actually para-waiting instead of gliding. We have an app that we reference for wind forecasts but you never know until you get to the spot.

Q: If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?

AP: If I could have another job for a day it would have to be a tandem paragliding pilot. As much as you might think I’m a risk taker, I’m pretty cautious in the air. I’ve always wanted to experience what it would feel like to fly like a bird.

Q: Any fun facts you’d like to share with us?

AP: A few years ago during a rock climbing trip, I climbed to the top of El Capitan and Yosemite. I brought the PayNearMe flag along to affirm that PayNearMe takes payments technology to where it’s never been before!

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