Throughout her payments technology career, colleagues have pointed to the steady hand of Archana "Archie" Puri as one of her key traits.
As the senior director of product management for payments and platform products at PayPal's Braintree, Puri has needed that consistency in her work to stand out as a 2017 Most Influential Women in Payments honoree.
It's more than a metaphor.
"During the summer between high school and college, I taught myself calligraphy," Puri said. "It’s a skill that I became good at and it required a very steady hand."
Puri was able to take the focus needed to "create something truly beautiful and consistent, like calligraphy" into her professional career at Braintree since 2012 and previously at Yahoo for nearly eight years as a senior product manager and program manager.
"It taught me to look at all the little pieces that go into making a big project successful," Puri added. "Every small detail in calligraphy requires a steady hand and requires the same amount of focus for each stroke to make sure it’s perfect and beautiful."
She thinks of that discipline when she gets tired because "if you let go of your focus, the project can turn out entirely different."
From a more technical standpoint, she more easily learned how to work with databases, and write queries. "It’s helped me with my job at Braintree by giving me the freedom to not depend on engineers to do something for me," Puri said.
Puri has been in her current role at Braintree since November of 2016, but was product leader for payments and card processing at the San Francisco-based company the three previous years.
The admiration of her co-workers was apparent when a sheet of paper stating "You're Awesome" turned up on her desk after an especially rugged week of work punctuated by numerous meetings.
"Despite not knowing where that message came from, it came at a time when I needed a little bit of extra motivation," Puri said. "To this day, that note still sits on my desk as a sign of inspiration."
Prior to joining Yahoo, Puri worked for iCOPE Technologies in Bangalore, India as a system engineer and at First Consulting Group as a business analyst.
It simply added to a track record of intense technology work, but Puri wasn't close-minded about learning new things from younger colleagues at Braintree.
"They taught me the important lesson of not taking everything so seriously," Puri said. "Braintree's culture is very open and collaborative."
In that setting, Puri said she would hear about younger colleagues' plans for the week, or trips they were taking, or community events they were involved with.
"When I hear them talk about things that are top of mind to them, it makes me think about how to prioritize my time," she added. "When I was younger, I was very serious, always focused on work and what was next in my career or how much I needed to save."
Now, it's all about where Braintree is going as a company, and the "logistics of school drop off and pickup," Puri said.
All of it, of course, with the steady hand of a highly skilled calligrapher.