SuperAMA with Chetty Arun, the main man behind Razorpay's design

We love to bring up stories of people behind awesome Indian companies and today we're thrilled to be sitting down for this SuperAMA over a virtual coffee ☕️ with Chetty Arun from Razorpay. We spoke about his WFH routine, building payments for India & his favourite TV shows & podcasts!

Let's go..

If you were not a designer, who would you be?

If I were not a designer, I definitely would've been a Genetic Engineer. In fact, I got selected for an MS degree in Biotechnology at GeorgiaTech. And, almost at the last moment I decided to take up the path which led to me being a full-time designer. To be very honest, I would've definitely regretted it if I had gone ahead with the GeorgiaTech MS degree.

How does your WFH day look like?

My WFH setup kept evolving and I think it finally reached a point where I am kinda satisfied. I now have enough screens to blind me in a few months 😆 This is how it looks currently:

Main machine

The 2020 MacBook Pro (13-inch, 16GB RAM with 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports). You don't see it in the picture as it's hidden behind the table. I wanted a clean table and really didn't care about using the MacBook's retina display.

Displays

I have 2 Dell external monitors. Both sponsored by Razorpay. Got them from the office the moment it was decided we'll all be working from home.

Keyboard and Mouse

I use the Logitech K480 keyboard and the Wacom Comic as my mouse. I got the Wacom tablet almost 4 years ago and absolutely loved it as a mouse replacement. I don't draw anything on that. But, it's a fancy gadget to show off.

Sound

I use the MacBook's default speakers for all Zoom calls. Whenever I don't have to show my face, I use the AirPods and walk around the room.

Webcam

As I never open my MacBook, I had to purchase an external webcam. The Logitech c270 was good enough for me. It also has a good enough mic in-built. I use that for my Zoom calls.

Other devices

I have my iPad almost always with me. I use it for Twitter, setting up the Pomodoro timer, reading books, or I just run Spotify on it once in a while.

I also have an Amazon Echo Show. This was a gift from Razorpay. I mainly use it to control the lights in my room, set up alarms, and to remind me that I have a girlfriend with that wallpaper always showing our picture.

I have the iPhone 11 Pro Max almost always on the table next to me and my Apple Watch 3 always on me. I have this weird OCD of reading and marking every notification. These two devices help me achieve that.

Table & Chair

For the table, I stumbled upon this website and found out a cheap table that fit my requirements. It got delivered in 5 days and I am super satisfied with it. For the chair, I again looked at Razorpay with puppy eyes and the admin team was super sweet to get me the FeatherLite chair.

Work from the office or work from home? And why?

I started going to the office recently. I go once or twice a week depending on which day has the least meetings. There's rarely anyone at the office and that change in environment kinda sets me up for higher productivity.

Given an option, I'd choose the office any day. I'd love to have my team around me physically. I want to experience first hand what my team is going through on a daily basis. And, as the head of the team, I think I'll be efficient if I can sense the team's pulse quickly and frequently. And, judging all of this over a few Zoom calls is a bit weird.

What brings you to design?

Now that I look back, there was no one trigger point that made me take up design. My father's a professional photographer. So, I was well versed with all the design tools. The moment I entered college (IIT Roorkee), a few student groups attracted me and that's how I started with design. One of the groups was the official new magazine and the other was a software development section. Both these groups introduced me to the world of design, especially in the software development section. That group actually introduced me to UX designing and that's how I guess I officially entered this space.

When not designing, what do you do?

I read and write a lot. I maintain a personal journal and I document almost every single moment of my life. Other than this, I have a few personal gigs running on the side. One of the main ones is the mock interviews that I actively take up over the weekends. That takes up a decent chunk off my calendar.

What are you currently working on? 🚀

I have a few major things actively going on. On the Razorpay Payments side, I have a few interesting products hitting the market soon. You'll know more about it at FTX, our annual FinTech conference. It's one of our most important events and is the largest FinTech event in India.

Speaking of FTX, most of my current time is going into making sure the design side of FTX is sorted. As it's all virtual this time, I am working with the team activities to make sure everything goes as planned.

From Razorpay Capital, I am working with the team in scaling up our Corporate Cards product. Capital is the lending business of Razorpay and it's currently in the 0-1 phase. So, this runs as a startup inside a startup and gives me that fast paced working environment.

Other than the design vertical at Razorpay, I also head a voluntary team called The Culture Committee. This team is the eyes and ears of the organization. I am currently taking up a research project to figure out how others in the industry are working remotely so that we can learn and adapt any good practices that they're taking up.

📚 Top 3 favorite podcasts(or books)

I read mostly non-fiction and I rarely listen to podcasts. Here are my top picks in no particular order:

Buy The Hard Thing about Hard Thing: Building a Business When There are No  Easy Answers Book Online at Low Prices in India | The Hard Thing about Hard  Thing: Building a

📺 Favorite TV Series?

This keeps changing with time. Also, I don't watch TV shows which run for long. I feel that I'll waste a ton of time if the show is long and if I get hooked. So, I always try to find shows which are not more than 2 seasons long with each episode being not more than 25-30min. Here are a few that I really liked:

  • Anime: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
  • Anime: The Promised Neverland
  • TV Show: The Inbetweeners

How does your app stack look like?

  • Slack, GMail, and Zoom for everything work communication
  • Google Suite for everything documentation
  • Figma to go over the prototypes and design (I rarely hands-on design these days though)
  • Notion for all things personal. If notion decides to shut off, I'll probably go handicapped
  • DayOne for personal journaling. And, FutureMe to write myself future mails

Who are some designers you look up to?

The design industry in India is growing day by day. There are a ton of great designers now in the community and a few great product managers who have a really good eye for design. There are a few friends in the community who teach me something new every time I talk to them. Dharmesh Ba from Setu, Kishore from GooglePay, and Sameer from Google Support (previously ScripBox) are a few of them.

Other than these folks mentioned above, I follow a few blog posts once in a while from Julie Zhuo and Joel Califa.

What are some things you do to stay motivated?

I always try to learn more about startups and products. I do this mainly via reading books & blogs, speaking out to folks in the community, etc. And to be very honest I don't think you always need to do something special to stay motivated. Just imagining the possible opportunities of the FinTech world and knowing that we’ve just scratched the surface itself gives me enough energy to move daily at work.

Lastly, some pro-tips for budding designers.

I can go on and on here telling you all about all the mistakes that I did. But, I think it'll turn into a 500-page book if I do that. Here are a few things that I'd fix in my life if I get to go back:

  • Document everything: Want to discover what's really going on in your mind? Write it down.
  • Speak out comfortably: You should be comfortable enough in selling your vision to a larger team. Also, this has nothing to do with you being an introvert or an extrovert. You should be the owner of speaking out your work. No one's going to do that for you. No, not even that favourite manager of yours is going to do that for you.
  • Get feedback often: Find mentors. At work and outside. Get feedback on your work, your growth, your personal decisions, etc., as early as possible. Treat your life as a product. Find enough channels for feedback and start acting on them.

Follow-ups? Book a 1:1 call with Chetty - https://superpage.to/chettyarun

That’s all for today folks, we had fun doing this AMA - hope you did too. Subscribe to stay in the loop with upcoming SuperAMAs⚡️.

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