Starting in 2001 and lasting a decade, Bora Chung, now Chief Experience Officer at BILL, sat at the center of a FinTech revolution. As a product leader at PayPal responsible for international and core checkout business, Bora was a key member of the team that revolutionized online consumer and business payments.
Before PayPal, sending and receiving online payments was very, very difficult. In the early internet days (pre-2001), consumer and business payments on retail sites like eBay and Amazon were still being handled by checks and money order.
The founding team at PayPal cracked this code, cemented the ethos of “disruption” into Silicon Valley’s DNA, and fostered their own mythic “PayPal Mafia” club reputation (thanks to some great publicists, one Fortune journalist, and a string of successful start-ups).
The early product managers at PayPal took that culture of disruption and embedded it into the company’s products such as express checkout, buy-now-pay-later, random deposit, global payments, and much, much more. Bora Chung was one of many women who created the key products and building blocks for future generations of FinTech innovation.
In her current role at BILL, Bora applies learnings gained from her time at PayPal to build the best accounts payable and accounts receivable products for small and midsize businesses and accountants.
At forks in the road: lean on and seek out mentors
As a recent Business Insider article made clear, women held prominent, integral positions at PayPal from its inception. Women built, led, and drove teams from product to operations to legal and engineering and made long-lasting relationships along the way. With this critical leadership experience came long hours, tremendous stress, and sometimes, isolation.
“My 10 years at PayPal felt like 20 years elsewhere since every day was so action packed,” Bora shared in a recent interview. “During the very early days, there were moments when I felt lonely because I was one of the few moms with a young child and many around me were engineers in their early to mid-20's.”
At one point, Bora faced a crossroads: quit due to the costs of daycare, the stress of parenting an infant, and the pressure of full-time work or stick it out. At this critical juncture, a female mentor reminded Bora not to make the decision based on her current income, but instead to focus on the next 30–40 years’ worth of income potential and what the career journey could bring.
Not only did Bora make the decision to stay, she excelled, serving as a senior director of PayPal’s global system focused on international strategy, adding 17 currencies and enabling money movement in more than 40 countries.
In committing to her long-term career trajectory, Bora saw that the keys to her success were in mastering not only technical, but also emotional skills. In the beginning of their careers, most product managers excel in one area: technical chops, customer empathy, or commercial success. But as a product manager moves up the ladder and aspires to the C-suite level, it’s critical to gather expertise in all 3 areas.
Network effect: driving more value for BILL
PayPal was an early leader in harnessing a powerful network effect. The more consumer users signed up, the more important the service became for retailers. The more merchants accepted PayPal, the more attractive the product became to new users. Applied to BILL, Bora saw a powerful network effect at play.
The mission statement of BILL is to make it simple to connect and do business. Bora’s team builds the products to make BILL the one-stop shop for SMBs to manage their financial operations. We’re fortunate to have a FinTech leader bringing executive experience from 3 breakthrough companies—PayPal, eBay, and Apple—to her team at BILL.
Paying it forward
Over the course of her career, relationships with other women have helped Bora in profound ways. Early on at PayPal, it was a mentor who urged Bora to broaden her vision, to look beyond the immediate, overwhelming challenges of being a young mom and the temptation to quit.
Much later on, another relationship led to Bora’s appointment to the Remitly board of directors.
Her friend, Deborah Liu, who worked as a PayPal director in product management—then led Facebook’s Marketplace and, most recently, joined Ancestry as CEO—recommended her for multiple opportunities and advised her along the journey.
“Paying it forward” has been a consistent theme in Bora’s career—both on the receiving end and, now, in her role as a leader at BILL, on the giving end too. Bora faced many crossroads in her career. We are grateful that they all led to BILL where Bora has the opportunity to lead and train the next generation of dynamic product managers, delivering dividends for our customers.