Ben Yaniv Chechik on Making Partners’ Payments Vision into Reality

This week #TradingPeople presents Ben Yaniv Chechik, VP Product at Zooz.

Who you are and what do you do? 

I would characterize myself as a technological person passionate about innovation – specifically when it comes to payments. I am a payments expert with extensive R&D and product management experience. Before becoming the VP Product at Zooz, I co-founded and worked as the CTO & VP R&D of Payoneer, and I was responsible for the entire company’s R&D, product strategy and product development. Before that I was R&D manager at IFP Forex Ltd, a technology company that developed forex and stocks online trading platforms.

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From my experience, being a product manager is different in every company, as every company has unique needs that differ based on its product. At Zooz, my job involves constantly communicating with both the business side and the R&D side of the company.

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I work with the business departments as well as our customers to understand the challenges customers face and their needs. This helps us understand what technology we need to develop to solve their problems and enable them to achieve their passions or goals. At the same time, I communicate with the R&D department to fully understand the technology we’re developing and to understand R&D’s progress in developing it.

I synthesize what I know about R&D’s efforts and the business expectations to create development priorities and formalize the business requirements in R&D user stories, giving R&D a framework for how to move forward with their tasks. Lastly, I am also in charge of following up and making sure all the requirements we defined are actually carried through the development process and integrated into the product.

Describe a typical work day.

My typical day starts before I start my work for Zooz. I’m up by 7am to prepare my two daughters for school. Once they’re out the door, I work on reading and answering emails at home.

Around 9am I head to the office, and start my workday getting progress updates from R&D. We discuss any issues or barriers in their way, delaying or preventing them from completing assignments. We make sure everything is running on schedule and that their R&D roadmap is aligned with my product roadmap. I provide answers to all their questions and, based on what I learn from R&D, assign tasks to relevant parties in the business teams.

I love that I can see the genuine value in what I do – I see the ideas turn out great products which lead to great results for our customers.

Throughout the day I attend many meetings regarding issues that range from R&D design to sales, as well as customers that visit. Between meetings I work on defining future products and further developing Zooz’s platform. While I work, people from the R&D pop into my office with questions for me to answer. All the while, I’m online reading about what’s happening in the payment industry. It’s a fast-paced industry, so I have to be up to date with everything that’s happening – to know who has acquired whom, what new products and technologies are on the market, etc. You’ll see a lot of Quora and TechCrunch in my browsing history.

Constantly communicating with our business, marketing, sales, and R&D teams, I define all requirements for all our products – even addressing issues as small as errors that can happen but rarely occur – and plan our roadmap for addressing these problems.

How is what you do important for the industry?

The VP Product is the visionary in charge of deciding on new products and features and strategizing how to make the vision a reality.image9 (1)

Once the product or feature is developed, it creates an industry-wide standard – all our competitors and partners will incorporate this feature and then build on it, inspiring more innovation and creativity. My job is to set the ball in motion, and make sure that the industry products are dynamic and constantly improving, which has a big impact on my company, the industry at large, and, most significantly, the end-users

What do you love about your work?

I love being surrounded by amazing, talented people and seeing my vision being realized in the technology being developed. It is gratifying to receive information, understand the big picture, and then put a plan into motion and to bring it to life. And I love that I’m able to do this across verticals – to take business requirements from a number of types of businesses and consolidate them into capabilities of our single, unified platform and into actual solutions that apply across the board. This is very challenging, but very interesting and rewarding too.

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Yaniv-Chechik-2I like working with people – hearing ideas from programmers, customer support, sales, marketing, finance… every function and person in the company as well as our customers and partners out of the company have ideas that I can learn from and incorporate into the product. It’s gratifying to work with great people and ideas – especially because we’re all working to achieve the same goal and we have endless opportunities to pursue and create.

Finally, I love that I can see the genuine value in what I do – I see the ideas turn out great products which lead to great results for our customers.

What is the quintessential experience of working in the industry?

The payments industry is broad and big – there are many companies doing so many different things. I feel privileged to have the ability to learn from each company and each person in this industry. Access to so many thoughts and perspectives around one field (payments) is humbling – I’m constantly learning how much I don’t know and how much I have to learn. Each day I’m learning something new.

The quintessential experience of a day at the office is working with the whole team – I never sit alone, because then there would be no creative process going on. I think this is best exemplified in the open space work concept, which we’re sticklers for at Zooz. Everyone sits together in one large room, so that we’re constantly bouncing ideas off each other. Discussion and brainstorming are constant, the innovative spirit is tangible and breeds more creativity.

How old were you when you had your first paying job?

If I remember correctly, I was 14 and I was working for an advertising company that glue-taped advertisements on busses.

From my experience, being a product manager is different in every company, as every company has unique needs that differ based on its product.

What got you started in the industry? 

My first position in the payments industry was when I was at 28. I worked with a number of a very talented people, building a FX trading platform. Later on, when I was 31, I had the privilege of meeting Yuval Tal, and creating from scratch the product and technology behind Payoneer, then serving as the company’s Product, R&D and Technology Officer for almost 9 years.

I was interested in financial technology because I naively believed that, ‘were they deal with money, there is money to be made.’ Today, after over 10 years in the payments world, I know differently: only where there are truly innovative ideas and solutions is there the opportunity of market traction – both in Fintech and in all industries.

Who do you admire?

There are many people – but I’ll name just two.

I have tremendous respect for Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs always asked himself how he could create better and more innovative technology than everyone else while adding value to his company and to society as a whole. I really relate to that. His technology was about making the world a better place through innovation, which is something I am passionate about.

I also admire Yuval Tal, the President and founder of Payoneer. Yuval has taught me that the key to every successful company and making yourself a better person is to put your ego aside at all times – surround yourself with people who are better and stronger than you in various regards. Get a second, third, even fourth opinion on everything you do. Doing this means you’re constantly learning from others and growing from what they know, making you a better person and professional. He also taught me never to give up no matter what the outlook, regardless of your mistakes – as long as you’re learning from the mistakes you’re growing from them.

Finally, I relate a lot to the following Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” I try to follow this idea in my own life and admire others who do the same: Dreamers and doers who forge new paths to get where they want to go, take their visions and make them a reality.

What advice would you like to share here that has been important to you?

  1. Learn from your failures and always take responsibility for your (and your team’s) wrongdoing.
  2. Always share your ideas with as many people as possible – get as many opinions as you can and listen carefully to all opinions you hear, so that you can make the wisest decisions.
  3. As a manager, surround yourself with people that are way better than you and that could easily replace you in your position.
  4. Follow your inner compass, never stop trying, and, as the late Steve Jobs said back in 2005 – “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”



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