Even during the busiest days, Carol Juel has learned the power of pausing to look at the big picture.
Zooming out—even for a moment—can trigger a new idea or a different perspective, which is essential in Juel’s role as chief information officer at Synchrony Financial. A few years ago when Synchrony was at the height of preparations for its IPO and spinoff from former parent GE Capital, Juel was handed a sheet of paper that stopped her in her tracks.
It was a questionnaire entitled, “All About my Mom,” completed by Juel’s 4-year-old son, informing her that she likes to be silly. She likes puzzles and she’s “really good at LEGOs.” She loves watching movies and her favorite meal to make is popcorn.
Juel keeps the questionnaire framed on her desk for inspiration and jolts of joy.
“I received this special gift during an extremely busy time at work, and it always makes me smile and remember what’s important,” said Juel, who’s worked in information technology and financial services for 21 years, at companies including GE and Accenture.
Juel’s role as technology chief for the nation’s largest private-label credit card issuer, overseeing all technology from business processes and online banking to mobile payments and data analytics, places her among PaymentsSource’s Most Influential Women in Payments for 2017.
“The pace at which we all operate, with back-to-back meetings and commitments, doesn’t give us enough time to think and reflect," Juel said. "It’s tough but we have to carve out time for this crucially important task.”
Every day Juel also sees how bringing diverse perspectives together in the workplace can trigger innovation, which fuels her passion for supporting diversity within companies.
“It’s been proven time and again that diverse teams perform better, and the presence of women in a group is more likely to increase the collective intelligence of the group,” Juel said.
Corporations whose teams support diversity across gender, ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic backgrounds can solve complex problems better and faster, outperforming companies with more homogenous teams, Juel believes.
“If we, as a country, are going to continue to innovate and deliver new technologies that will change the world, we need to develop a strong pipeline of talent that brings diverse viewpoints and reflects the variety of today’s population,” Juel said.
In her efforts to help develop more diverse talent pools, Juel often speaks and writes about the importance of encouraging girls to engage with technology early, and provides active support to the educational program “Girls Who Code.”
At a Synchrony-sponsored “Girls Who Code” event last year, Juel had another big moment of inspiration when Meredith Walker—co-creator of the “Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls” program—emphasized the importance of not being overly self-critical when you’re working on breakthrough ideas individually or in groups.
This is Juel’s new mantra: “Be bold, not perfect.”