To accomplish what she has in her 10-year tenure with Mastercard, Dana J. Lorberg simply had to be two things: "I am a programmer and a girl geek."
That really says it all. Lorberg, an executive vice president at Mastercard overseeing operations and technology, has spent the past decade mastering her craft by advancing technology platforms such as loyalty, digital marketing and prepaid offerings.
In that span, Lorberg went from writing code to leading commercial departments, including consulting, mergers and acquisitions and technical security. That type of work resulted in her being named as one of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments this year.
In her role, it is not unusual for Lorberg to want to put her geekiness to work in a way that solves an industry problem no one else has perfectly addressed. She views the lack of ubiquity for person-to-person payments as a disappointment, noting, "I want us to be the ones to solve it."
It's an important area, Lorberg said, because P-to-P payments represent a "technical path to inclusive growth, ensuring that people everywhere, from migrant workers to a dog walker, to on-demand workers, can pay and get paid for the work that they do."
Another technology in its formative years — artificial intelligence — both fascinates and frightens Lorberg.
"The technology is really the next frontier, and the advantages that it can bring to payments are transformative," she said. "AI and machine learning coupled with the amount of data Mastercard has and the global reach of the network will change the way payments happen."
While Mastercard has already leveraged these technologies to "save the industry billions of dollars as a predictive technology," Lorberg believes there is more opportunity to provide value to consumers, merchants and governments around the world.
But she cautions that every opportunity carries a risk that fraudsters will swoop in.
"We need to act," she said. "The challenge for payments is to make sure that we are always smarter than the criminals. We know that we’ll always use technology for good — just as we know that they will always use it for evil."
Lorberg credits her mother as a mentor and inspiration in her life, using her determination to rise out of a life of poverty by earning a degree in nursing and becoming one of the first nurse practitioners.
And where did Lorberg's geekiness come from in the first place? "My father was also a fascinating guy, an astroengineer who worked on all of the Mercury space programs, even designing the seat that the first monkey rode into orbit," she explained.
Because of the "tomboy" attributes she also displayed much of her life, Lorberg considers that maybe a career as a fitness instructor could have been in the cards. But payments became her passion.
To that end, she views her key traits as a desire to learn, having confidence, working hard and paying it forward as best you can.
Lorberg said she simply lives by a quote from the surfer and shark-attack survivor Bethany Hamilton: "Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent and guts. That's what little girls are made of."
READ MORE: The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2018