Meeting Maya: How a Boomerang Employee Came Back to Launch a Bank

Created by: Charmane Santiago 5min read
Dec 12, 2022

Meeting Maya is an on-going series that puts the spotlight on the people and culture that make Maya what it is today.

Charmane Santiago is a Senior Manager for Product Engineering and a FinTech veteran with nearly a decade of experience. “Ayne,” as she is known by her teammates, was instrumental in making sure that Maya Bank, one of the country’s few digital banks, launched within 6 months—an incredible feat. She also happens to be a Boomerang Employee.


What is a Boomerang Employee? A Boomerang Employee is someone who has left a company but later returns to work there again.

What was your initial experience with Maya (then known as Voyager)?
I originally started as a mobile developer for Voyager and eventually became more involved with backend development and engineering.

Even in the beginning, I could appreciate how invested the company was in our growth as developers and not just our output. Voyager gave us all kinds of resources and tools, encouraged us to attend workshops, and really instilled a culture of learning that I think can be felt even today.

We were really allowed to experiment and develop our skills without the pressure of always focusing on the business’ needs or deliverables or being afraid to fail. Even when what we were doing wasn’t always profitable, we still felt the full support from our bosses and the freedom to create, innovate, and explore.

What led you to leave Maya during your first run?
After working with Maya for 7 years, I felt like it was time to expand my experiences and look at what life outside of Maya had to offer. I had an opportunity to be part of a local startup and build my own engineering team and took the chance to continue growing.

And why did you come back to Maya?
My old boss in Maya, Alfred (Maya’s Chief Technology Officer) approached me and asked if I was interested in building the Maya bank with a team of relatively new hires. Of course, I knew that it would be a difficult challenge, especially with a newly-formed team that was still unfamiliar with one another.

Luckily, I had always been passionate about starting and grooming a team of engineers anyway so the chance to do that again while pulling off this incredible challenge was too appealing to me to say no to. So, I decided to go back to Maya again.

…we believed that everyone deserved a digital bank that’s available and accessible to everyone, especially during the height of the pandemic. ‘That’s how it (banks) should be’

Now that you’re back, what’s different?
Compared to my first time, Maya is a lot larger now and we have a greater collaboration with multinational talent. There are people from all over the world –Europe, India, Hong Kong, South Korea— in Maya.

Working with people from so many different backgrounds helped me cultivate a more open-minded perspective to problem solving since I can see firsthand the unique approaches people take to any situation. As a result, it refreshed my own approach to problems and I relied less and less on “just what I was used to”.

At the same time, it’s nice to have my work and solutions be validated by experts from different backgrounds. Of course, we don’t need “approval” from foreign talent to know that we’re on the right track, but it’s still reassuring to hear that many of the things we do organically are also done in other multinational companies.


Maya collaborates with talent from all over the world including: Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Vietnam

What’s the same?
The culture of learning and being owners is still the same as it was from the Voyager days, just bigger.

Launching Maya Savings within 6 months was no easy task. From a culture and attitude perspective, how were you able to do it?
I think part of the reason that we were able to do it was because of the trust that OBV (Founder of Voyager Innovations Inc. and Maya) and the other stakeholders put into our project. The team really felt like the higher ups “bet” on us to succeed, which motivated us to step up and go beyond our roles.

Another factor I think was that all of us on the team really believed in the product; we believed that everyone deserved a digital bank that’s available and accessible to everyone, especially during the height of the pandemic. We were really motivated to deliver a product that people needed and would use.

It’s actually easier and more rewarding to solve rocket science problems with the right people than it is to solve simple problems with the wrong people.

Do you think you would have been able to do what you did anywhere else?
Honestly, I don’t think we would be able to pull off what we did (building a digital bank in just 6 months) anywhere else.

It was the perfect combination of the right team, right leaders, urgent situation, and team-first attitudes. I’m honestly going to be proud of that wherever I go and whatever I do.

What would be your biggest takeaways from working with Maya?
It’s actually easier and more rewarding to solve rocket science problems with the right people than it is to solve simple problems with the wrong people.

During my time outside of Maya, the problems I faced where technically easier, but the people could become the issue. Not everybody was on the same wavelength in terms of learning, growing, and making the most out of the opportunities that the work gave us.

I realized that I would rather be stressed by challenging problems than by challenging people and, especially after experiencing firsthand the talent and drive that so many people in Maya had compared to my work outside of Maya. Being able to find my way back to Maya with teammates that were on the same mission and drive as me helped make me trust that every single member of my team can step up and do more, even without being asked. It’s also made me confident that we can take on even bigger challengers in the future.

Maya currently employs 26 Boomerang Employees


Charmane Santiago   Senior Manager, Maya Philippines Inc.

Learn more about Maya!