It started with a simple Twitter conversation, then evolved into something more.
Arun Patra’s first impressions of Reloadly now stick with him until today. “I loved the openness and transparency, as well as how Reloadly was aiming to be a game-changer in the fintech space,” Patra remembers.
Arun Patra has been hired as the new Chief Architect at Reloadly and brings with him over two decades of experience working in and leading engineering teams that have built web-scale products for a number of Fortune 100 companies.
Some of the major multinational clients that Patra has helped with digital transformation and tech innovation consulting include UPS, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, MetLife, AIG, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, American Express, and USAA.
Prior to joining Reloadly, Patra was Senior Staff Engineer at Blackhawk Network, a digital gift company, and before that a Principal Architect at Mindtree, a multinational tech consultancy firm.
As the latest senior hire at Reloadly, we sat down with Patra to get a glimpse of what exactly his role of Chief Architect will entail, as well as how he plans to contribute to moving Reloadly along its path to becoming a “game-changer” in the telco and fintech spaces.
1. First off, explain to us what is a day in the life of a Chief Architect and how this role will help to create synergies within Reloadly?
Arun: A chief architect’s job is probably 30% technical and 70% human dynamics. Different stakeholders in an organisation bring in different perspectives and look at technology in slightly different ways. It’s a chief architect’s job to help introduce coherence and continuity to the business and IT worlds. Making sense of market drivers, customer expectations, competitors, technology innovation, software architecture and human dynamics are some tasks of a chief architect. One has to necessarily wear multiple hats.
Reloadly is fast growing and so are its engineering teams. We are bullish with our new products, especially Mobile Money. The chief architect’s role will help scale engineering teams and IT platforms. We are at a point where we need to leverage the power of agile teams and gradually shape up as a high-performance technology shop that delivers high-quality software products much faster than the competition.
2. As the chief architect at Reloadly, what are your immediate ambitions?
Arun: As the chief architect, my immediate objectives would be to get a pulse of the business, engineering teams, IT infrastructure, platform architecture and growth posture.
For the next two quarters my clear objective is to help launch new product lines like Gift Cards and Mobile Money. These will also give us enough opportunities to scale out our IT infrastructure. I will be working closely with business development and will focus on bridging the gap between business and IT.
3. What is your current view of the airtime API industry, and how can Reloadly help to stir things up?
Arun: The Airtime API industry in a way is rather brittle in nature. However, Reloadly has revolutionised the Airtime API industry with its simplicity and technical superiority. The Airtime API industry can help contribute towards sustainable growth in emerging markets and help bridge the digital divide.
As I mentioned, the major obstacle around Airtime APIs and telecom, in general, is brittleness and complexity. We are doing away with both at Reloadly and helping customers be successful and build new products fast. Reloadly is further building upon its superior APIs and market reach to roll out new digital checkout products like Mobile Money. This will be a game-changer and will empower billions.
4. In your personal point of view, what makes Reloadly’s technology unique within the industry?
Arun: Reloadly has distinct unfair advantages over others with its powerful APIs. We are miles ahead of the competition with our clean, modern and easy-to-use API technology. This is something rarely seen in the telecom and fintech world. We are truly powering the API Economy and the Programmable Web.
5. You’ve worked in a series of senior technology roles. What is a common denominator you’ve witnessed within companies that successfully deploy innovative new tech?
Arun: Technology is just an enabler. It is not a silver bullet and does not solve all problems. Successful technology companies utilise technology as a business enabler. What really sells is a product that customers just love and solves a problem that customers want to be solved. It’s very important to think and look at business backward. Successful technology products are usually the ones that bring people, processes and functionality together in a frictionless way.
6. Name a hard project that you worked on in the past that tried your patience, ability to collaborate and leadership skills.
Arun: Around 2016 I had been working on creating a product team to build and sell Internet of Things products. While we worked hard and solved extremely complex engineering problems, we were way behind our sales goals. We realised that irrespective of what we build into our products, it’s paramount to understand the voice of the customer and what the market actually needs.
A great product-market fit , timing, and go-to-market strategy are very important. My experience with this strategic initiative made me wear multiple hats starting from engineering to sales and strategy. It helped me look at business strategy and engineering objectives with a holistic view. It was fun! We once worked with one of the largest airlines and helped innovate with bleeding-edge technologies in the Internet of Things space. While the airlines chose to wait a few quarters to monetise the innovation, we saw similar technology innovations elsewhere at some other players in an entirely different industry within the next two years. The market moves pretty fast in some industries.
7. What is your hope for Reloadly in the coming year? Give a list of 5 things you’d like to accomplish.
Arun: We are extremely excited and enthusiastic about our new products in the pipeline. You will see exciting new products like Mobile Money hitting the market in the coming quarters. This will be a game-changer.
Some of my priorities will be:
a) Help scale engineering teams
b) Help scale IT platforms
c) Build high-performance products that customers just love
d) Ensure 99.9% availability of IT systems
e) Build a culture of innovation, rigor and fearlessness at our engineering shops