Do Well, Do Good
John Rainey focuses his work on bettering lives, one transaction at a time
By Justin Walker
Values. They can be defined as something’s worth or a person’s principles. But both definitions are integral to John Rainey in his life and career.
Serving as the chief financial officer and executive vice president of customer operations for PayPal, Rainey deals a lot in numbers. Whether analyzing how the company is doing or helping consumers handle their transactions, his role revolves around money.
“It is not just about cutting costs or disciplined expense management,” Rainey said. “It is really about how we help grow the business.”
There are many different avenues to take to achieve that, he said. But the route Rainey chose involved a more personal approach.
Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Customer Operations, PayPal Holdings, Inc.
San Francisco, California
Rainey grew up in the Gulf Coast town of Angleton, Texas. When it came time to apply to colleges, he knew he wanted a school that would not only focus on education but the complete individual. A university with a spiritual aspect was also important to him, and Baylor fit all the criteria.
“Baylor is very much focused on values,” he said. “That really resonated with me.”
Rainey went on to earn his BBA in Finance in 1993 from the Hankamer School of Business and followed that with his MBA in 1995. One thing he noticed about his time at Baylor was how the University emphasized the leadership qualities he deems important. Impact. Innovation. Service.
Those qualities influenced his own leadership style, Rainey said. Several professors he said motivated him to a career in finance include Bill Petty, W. James Truitt and Dean Terry Maness. He credits his success to their teachings and mentorship.
After college, Rainey took the values and knowledge he gained and put them to use in his career. In 1997, he entered the airline industry at Continental Airlines and later became the vice president of financial planning and analysis. In 2010, when Continental and United Airlines merged, Rainey served as the senior vice president of financial planning and analysis of United before becoming executive vice president and CFO in 2012.
Within each of these positions, it was important for Rainey to not only be in a financial reporting role but to really connect with employees.
“Understanding the details of maintenance programs on airplanes and how staffing goes into airport operations allowed me to weigh in with a much broader perspective on decisions that are not just finance decisions, they are business decisions,” Rainey said. “That more holistic understanding of the operation allowed me to bring more to the table.”
Rainey headed west to PayPal in 2015, and with the move came many more opportunities to showcase the values he cares about the most.
In 2018, PayPal started a journey of financial wellness, not just for the company, but for the employees as well.
“We had a group who volunteered at a food bank in Scottsdale, Arizona,” Rainey said. “Through that process, we discovered that some of our employees were going to that food bank.”
The idea that people who worked for PayPal were not earning enough to sustain themselves was stomach-turning for Rainey and the executives at PayPal. It led them to create a powerful set of initiatives to help employees across the entire company.
The first item on the list was to ensure every single employee was making an appropriate living wage. Everyone already made above minimum wage throughout the company, Rainey said, but this clearly was not enough for some to support their families.
“This cost us tens of millions of dollars,” he said. “But we knew it was the right thing to do for our company.”
It didn’t stop there though. The cost of medical insurance for employees was put into a prorated, tiered system based on income, allowing for workers making lower wages to pay roughly 60 percent less for insurance. PayPal also made every employee an owner of the company by giving them stock, allowing them to benefit from the successes of their own hard work.
The idea behind the changes is that by treating the employees fairly and taking care of them, they will in turn take better care of the customer. If the customer is taken care of, then the financial results will take care of themselves.
Rainey’s determination to make lives better does not stop at PayPal but continues at Baylor. He currently serves on the Hankamer School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board and is a prominent donor to the School as well. Through multiple funds, Rainey supports faculty research and discovery in Business Analytics and provides scholarships to students from Brazoria, Matagorda and Galveston counties looking to attend Baylor.
It all comes down to values, and what Rainey values is the betterment of people.
“What we are doing is making lives easier for people and making it less expensive—more affordable,” he said. “It has been really fulfilling to be in a role where I can focus not just on doing well, but doing good.”