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PayPal CFO discusses how he manages with a hands-off approach

John Rainey has a simple philosophy when it comes to his management style.

The chief financial officer of PayPal isn’t what you’d call a micromanager.

“I try to hire good people and basically get out of their way,” Rainey said.

Rainey, who has served as PayPal’s CFO since 2015, told Business Insider that his hands-off approach was inspired by a variation of a quote from American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson.

See also: PayPal’s CFO believes AI can save the company $25 million a year by automating one area of customer service

The quote — ‘Our chief want in life is for someone to inspire us to be the person we know we can be’ — represents a blueprint for how he can go about his job. Rainey said it serves as reminder of the way he’d like to lead the finance and customer operations teams he oversees at the giant payments processor.

“I find that the people that work for me like to have that empowerment,” Rainey said. “They like to be able to use the gray matter between their ears versus just following marching orders.”

See also PayPal’s CFO says its new partnership with Facebook Marketplace could dwarf the business it does with eBay

Rainey is no stranger to leading large teams. Before joining PayPal in 2014 he spent five years at United Airlines, three of which he served as the airline company’s chief financial officer. Before United, Rainey worked at Continental Airlines for over a decade, including a stint as its vice president of financial planning and analysis.

The approach isn’t just about ensuring his employees are happy, Rainey said. The level of freedom Rainey offers his staff represents valuable experience.

“I also think it develops the bench for the next generation of leaders as well,” Rainey added.

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