The world of fintech is in hyper-growth mode—and that’s exactly what excites Tracy Meng so much about working in the industry. “Ten years ago, the term ‘fintech’ didn’t even exist, and we’re still writing the history books as we speak,” says Meng, the VP, Global Head of Partnerships & Partner Engineering at Checkout.com, which provides businesses around the world with online payment solutions.
The path to her current position was anything but linear—and, she says, “I wouldn’t have had it any other way.” Meng previously worked in various tech roles at Google and as a management consultant at Bain & Company. And at Checkout.com, she now has the chance to build a function from the ground up.
Here, Meng shares her career change tips, how to overcome the challenges of working at a fast-growing company, and what she’s looking for in candidates at Checkout.com (the scrappier, the better!).
What led to your job at Checkout.com, and how did you know the company would be a good fit?
When I joined Checkout.com in early 2020, I knew I wanted to join a fast-growing fintech company and build out a business development/partnerships function from the ground up. The role at Checkout.com was the ideal intersection of these interests. From my first conversations with leaders in the organization, I was inspired by how much Checkout.com’s product and company culture were focused on empowering global businesses to thrive in an increasingly digital economy. Two years in and one pandemic later, that mission rings truer than ever.
You worked in a mix of roles before joining Checkout.com. How have you successfully navigated various career pivots?
Besides trusting my gut, I always asked myself the following questions when considering a career pivot: Will this new role allow me to grow in my functional area? For example, earlier in my career it was building my partnerships skill set, and later on leading a bigger scope. Will this new company broaden or deepen my industry expertise? Will this role/company allow me to make a difference in the world, such as building a culture or leaving a positive legacy? Finally, do I connect with the people I’m working with, especially my manager?
What is a common misconception about working in fintech and how would you respond to it?
I often see people—especially those early in their careers—assume that fintech is an established industry full of jargon and complexity, and feel intimidated as a result. Yes, fintech is very complex and there’s a lot to learn, but it’s actually a relatively nascent industry, along with adjacent industries like crypto. Therefore, there’s no reason to be intimidated; fast, hungry learners will get up to speed quickly.
Another assumption is that fintech—like its predecessor of traditional financial services—is full of male-dominated “bro-culture.” While I think there’s still a ton of work to do in this area, I’m hopeful that fintech is our generation’s opportunity to level the playing field. The whole reason why fintech emerged was to disrupt traditional institutions and increase access and inclusivity, and the fintech companies that are successful apply this same mission to how they hire and promote underrepresented groups. I’m encouraged by the fact that half of our C-Suite is female and I’m constantly working alongside seasoned technical leaders like Rhuta Gulati who leads our Partner Engineering team, and industry experts like Christy Fung and Lauren Craig, whose knowledge of payments is unsurpassed. The list goes on across functions and levels, so I especially encourage women and minorities to join us in shaping who gets to build, operate, and benefit from the financial institutions of tomorrow.
What are you responsible for in your role?
I lead our Strategic Partnerships and Partner Engineering teams globally. We work with platforms, ISVs, fintechs, and more to bring best-in-class solutions to market across the Americas, Europe, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and Asia-Pacific (APAC). Our partner integrations help our merchants expand business reach and boost profits. Fruitful relationships with our partners allow us to distribute and go to market more quickly, which in turn enables both sides to grow revenue more quickly. To ensure all this is possible, our Partner Engineering team supports the development and maintenance of our integrations.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far at Checkout.com, and how did you overcome it?
While there are great perks to hyper-growth, there are natural challenges associated with rapid expansion. For example, different teams will inevitably grow at different speeds. There have been times when my team was under-resourced relative to other teams, which meant we had to take on more than we’d originally scoped to support other teams’ needs. There have also been times where other teams were under-resourced, which meant we needed to be patient or roll up our sleeves and be scrappy. My team and I have all had various hats besides partnerships, and have done everything from writing press releases to ordering snacks for the office. Staying humble and having a good sense of humor are key.
Tell us about Checkout.com’s growth in the U.S., specifically for the commercial teams. What types of roles are you hiring for?
My team is hiring across several verticals and functions. On the partner management side, we have open roles focused on verticals like fintech or regions like the U.K., France, Italy, and MENA. We’re also always searching for talented partner engineers and are currently looking for a program manager to support the partner engineering team.
Why is now an especially exciting time to work at Checkout.com?
I already gushed about why I think it’s a great time to join the fintech space, and within fintech, you can’t find a better positioned, more center-of-it-all company than Checkout.com.
When you think about what makes a fintech company successful, money movement is core. Checkout.com powers so many applications of money movement, and we’ve done the hard work of ensuring the product, regulatory, and compliance building blocks are in place for companies to receive and send payments globally. To use an analogy, we’ve built a key aspect of the fintech operating system (OS). But the OS is just the beginning.
We still have so much growth ahead with all the applications (just like iOS or Android apps) that can be built on this OS. We want both fintech-savvy and non-fintech-savvy businesses globally to be able to use our building blocks, and we have so much more to create and commercialize. It’s the ideal environment for those looking to build from scratch, write playbooks, and accelerate their careers.
What do you like best about Checkout.com’s company culture?
As an immigrant with a multicultural background, I appreciate that Checkout.com is truly a global company. I joined right before the pandemic, so I would Slack people I’d never met, and whether they were based in Paris or Shanghai, they’d all respond within 24 hours answering my question and offering to meet-and-greet over Zoom. This allowed me to build rewarding relationships around the world. The culture is very “one team,” and I felt that in the collaboration and communication from my first day with the company.
Our global culture mirrors our global payments solution. Most Bay Area tech companies I’ve been part of have been very U.S.-centric, but Checkout.com has been thoughtful and intentional about meeting the specific, local needs of various regions and respecting the local culture— whether it’s the product features needed in Germany, the culture of doing business in the Middle East, or the holiday schedule in Singapore. This is the first company I’ve worked for where everyone quickly learns the importance of Ramadan and Lunar New Year alike (which I’ve been inspired to celebrate more than ever as part of my Chinese heritage).
What advice do you have for candidates who want to apply for a job at Checkout.com?
Do research on the company and the payments/fintech space—and then be prepared to speak to why you’re excited about the company and role. I’m a big believer that the homework you do also helps you gauge whether the job is the right one for your ambitions. Successful hiring is a two way street—don’t forget that both sides get to evaluate if it’s the right fit.
For roles within the Partnership team specifically, we evaluate the individual’s background, skill set, cultural fit within the organization, and, of course, their ability to thrive in a high-growth environment. We want to see if they’re coming to the table with a low ego and a willingness to be scrappy.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
A wise manager once told me to be the CEO of my own career and think of my career as a business to run—in other words, I’m the CEO of “Tracy Meng, Inc.” A good CEO advocates for their value, does their diligence, and stays focused on their mission, so it’s important for me to do the soul searching and figure out what I want “Tracy Meng, Inc” to represent and where I think I’ll grow the most. This also means that my personal brand stays with me even if I leave the company I work for, so it’s important to always operate with integrity, knowing that how I represent myself matters.