After working her way through college, Lisa Shipley landed a low-level job in a bank. Luckily, she had the foresight to keep tending bar at night to pay the bills.

But Shipley soon began a steady rise through the ranks–despite having to navigate a banking landscape buffeted by mergers. From there, she went on to work for the biggest names in payments terminals and transaction processing.

These days, Shipley’s helping to transform the acquiring industry into an international business in her job as executive vice president and managing director of payment network solutions at Transaction Network Services, or TNS.

But she still makes time for public service. As president of W.net, which is short for Women Networking in Electronic Transactions, she strives to give younger women a boost in the business. She’s also working to bring the payments industry’s new players into the fold at W.net.

Shipley recently sat down with ISO&Agent to discuss her career and her upcoming book on the gender discrimination she’s endured in the industry.  

ISO&Agent: Where’d you grow up, Lisa?

Shipley: I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, Ill., called Park Ridge, in a big Irish Catholic family. I had eight brothers and sisters–so a total of nine kids.

ISO&Agent: Hillary Clinton came from Park Ridge.

Shipley: She used to babysit for my aunt and uncle.

ISO&Agent: Did you meet her back in the day?

Shipley: I did not. I’ve had relatives party with Bill’s brother. I don’t know how much is fact and how much is fiction. 

ISO&Agent: Where did you go to school?

Shipley: Of the nine kids, I was the only one who moved away. When I was 20 years old and in the middle of college, I relocated to Norfolk, Va., to go to school at Old Dominion. I worked my way through seven years of school.

ISO&Agent: Seven years of college?

Shipley: I have a bachelor in communications, but I changed schools half way through and moved. Half the credits didn’t apply, so it was like starting over. I alternated, going to school for a semester and taking a semester off to earn money working as a waitress or a bar tender until I could finally get my degree.

ISO&Agent: How did you pick Old Dominion?

Shipley: Moving was the stupidest thing I ever did. I was assistant dorm director at a college in Illinois and had a lot of school paid for, which was important because I was on my own.

ISO&Agent: What did you do after school?

Shipley: My first temp job, right out of school, was at Sovran Bank. But I kept my night job to pay the bills because I was only making $10,000 a year at the bank.

I started working my way up at the bank on the issuing side in the chargeback area. In those days you went from being in a cube in a chair with no arms to being an assistant vice president, where you had a chair with arms, to being a VP where you get a cube with glass windows. It was very clear as you walked through the building who had what title.

During that time, Sovran merged with Citizens and Southern National Bank to form C&S/Sovran. That’s when I got my big opportunity and was appointed president of a wholly-owned subsidiary called Terminal Management Systems. It was anything that had to do with buying credit card terminals, having them programed, having a help desk for merchants to call­–anything and everything to do with the support and sale of POS equipment. I ran a leasing company for NationsBank as well. (NationsBank was created by the merger of C&S/Sovran and NCNB. NationsBank’s now part of Bank of America.)  

ISO&Agent: You were with the bank 11 years. How long were you running Terminal Management Systems?

Shipley: It was about two years, and then NationsBank did the joint venture with a company then called Nabanco, which is now First Data. When they merged, Nabanco moved me to Atlanta. That’s how I got from Virginia to Atlanta.

I decided it wasn’t the company I wanted to work with, so I started looking at other options and that’s when I found Hypercom. I had years of experience in the U.S. hardware side of the business, so I interviewed with Hypercom and a couple other companies, and accepted a job in Atlanta running the Southeast Region for Hypercom.    

I stayed with Hypercom for 12 years and had several roles. Eventually, I ran all of sales for North America, and then I left as managing director for North America, reporting directly to the CEO.

ISO&Agent: Then you went to Ingenico?

Shipley: I took a position at Ingenico as senior vice president of sales and marketing for North America. I loved that. It was a great company, and I worked there for three years.

Then I was courted by First Data to come work for them. I finished a sabbatical of two and a half years there. I reported to the head of strategy and ran their Enterprise business. Their enterprise business included all those unique customers who didn’t fall into the typical buckets of ISO, bank, merchant, etc.  It was all of the alternative payment providers, like Microsoft and Google. It was some of the biggest companies in the world, certainly the biggest companies coming into the payments space.

ISO&Agent: And today?

I am now at TNS. I’ve been interested in this company a long time. Hypercom had a business line called HB Net, a gateway. In a nutshell, I like to tell people that what TNS does is connects the dots.

I’ll give you an example. If you are a major retailer, say Walmart, you do business in the United States and you’re going to contract with an acquirer here, you do business in Mexico and you’re going to contract with another acquirer, you do business in China and you’re going to have to negotiate with another acquirer. None of those entities talk together, and you’re getting reporting, fraud tools and all of the other management tools for your business through a multitude of different partners. What TNS does is we sit in the middle of that. We can actually take the transactions from anywhere in the world, validate them and give it all one face. We are the best-kept secret in the marketplace, which is why I decided to come work at TNS.

We are a great partner to our U.S. acquirers. For instance, maybe they land a large merchant but they don’t have a footprint in Australia, and they have no way to get those transactions accomplished. We can do that for them.

We provide one point of entry. Customers can see what we see in our own data center as we provide real time access to our systems within their own data centers. If there’s a problem, we see it immediately. 

We are the largest gateway in the world. Name the country–we’re there. We have a huge presence all over the U.S.A., Asia, Europe and Australia. We’re going into the countries we’re not in. There are very few places we’re not.

The largest card brands use what we call our card-not-present gateway. We white-label it to them. When you think of the names that fall into that category, two of them are using TNS systems for web-based card-not-present online transactions around the world. It allows them to have the access they need, which is global.

ISO&Agent: What does the future hold for TNS?

Shipley: The strategy is to get the word out, to broaden the reach and help the payment landscape understand who we are and the amazing assets we bring to the table. We have the assets, we have the capability. It’s a great company with great people and great assets. At the end of the day, I’m a salesperson and I’m going to run a company that has lots of great toys to sell. 

ISO&Agent: You’re the new president of W.net, which stands for Women Networking in Electronic Transactions. Could you tell us about your experience there?                                                                                              

The organization is in its ninth year. It was founded in 2005 by some of the most powerful women in the industry at the time. It has grown year-over-year, and I have been a part of the organization for the last five or six years.

It’s truly changed. The drive of the organization has always been to promote more senior women into payment roles. We’ve gotten stronger. We have grown our membership to over 400 companies that are participants within the organization. We have 10 cities where we have three or four local meetings each year, for a total of up to 40 meetings, to reach people that typically don’t go to the trade shows. We have two major national events a year that are focused on mentoring and giving women visibility of market changes–one of those is in Vegas and one in Atlanta.

The overall vision of W.net is to be the platform to drive parity for women in payments. It’s very interesting to know that at a very successful show this how last fall, of all the people registered, women only represented only 13%. That says something. We still have a long way to go to getting into senior roles. So the organization is dedicated to educating women and to providing networking so they have a chance to meet other senior women. We have a very sophisticated mentoring program. We have a job board where companies can post openings. We do educational webinars and have career centers.

I like to tell people that we’re the Good Housekeeping Seal for any organization to say that they are committed to making sure there’s parity. Organizations that sponsor us understand that there is a gap and that we help fill that gap. We do custom programs for any company, coming in and designing a program for their women right there on site.

ISO&Agent: Do volunteers work on the custom programs?

First of all, all of the members of the organization are strictly volunteers. All the board members are doing this in our spare time from very busy jobs that we all have. We do have a company called Coulter that we hire that manages the logistics of the organization. Coulter is run by an executive director by the name of Shawn Zelman, and basically a team of one and a half people help us with day-to-day things. But all of us are managing the budget. We’ve all divided into committees, like sponsorship committee, membership committee, communications. We are all assigned under committees to have regular calls. When you think about it, 40 local LINCs (Local Interest Network Circles) a year, two major events a year that we put on, and that’s all top of managing the mentoring program and communications. So it’s a huge commitment of time for all of us. The ladies who are part of this organization are so committed.

ISO&Agent: Are men involved with W.net?

Shipley: We do invite men, on occasion, as speakers. We do have an advisory board that has men that meets once a year. It’s on the outside looking in to give us guidance and make sure that we’re seeing all the things that we should see.

It’s very rewarding for women to get together and know that they’re supported. I say at these meetings that you have to make a conscious decision to help another woman. Sometimes women can be their own worst enemy, but that’s not who we really are. We’re changing the mindset of the woman in our industry one woman at a time. And I’m very proud to be a part of that.

ISO&Agent: What changes do you see ahead for W.net?

Shipley: We’re trying to bring younger women onto the board and into the advisory board to get their insight and make sure that we’re solving problems. That’s been a real drive.

This year, more so than any other year, we have a very clear strategy focus and that is to bring more organizations into the fold. We’ve been acquirer-focused with events around the Electronic Transactions Association show, but we’re trying to broaden that to make sure that we are reaching out to the new alternative payment providers.

ISO&Agent: Can you tell us about your discrimination lawsuit?

I have a book coming out soon. It is a memoir about an experience that I had relative to gender discrimination from a former employer. It tells my story, which includes a five-day jury trial in a federal court in Atlanta, Ga., where I won every point. It was a journey of what happened and what women who are in similar circumstances can expect to go through. It was a four-and-a-half-year-long process, and I felt compelled, especially after my years in W.net, to share my experiences.

ISO&Agent: What company was it?

Shipley: I’d rather not say in this article. The publisher may or may not change the title—that’s their prerogative—but as of right now the book’s going to be called “Crawling Across Broken Glass.”

It was a “My Cousin Vinney” type of trial. Some parts of it were just absolutely hilarious. That’s why this book will not be a real downer.

I hired a professional ghost writer. I’m anxious to get it out, and I gotten the full support of W.net. We’ve talked about it and hope to help other women.

ISO&Agent: It’s great that you’ve found a way to use that bad experience to help other people.

Shipley: I said after the trial that I wanted to write a book. About nine months later, my son Daniel asked me how the book was coming. He asked if this was going to be like my other personal dreams that I had that I had not followed through on because of my crazy busy professional life. It was the wakeup call I needed to follow through on something that I think others can benefit from that find themselves in similar circumstances.

I think the industry is going to be really anxious to read about some of the players in the book.

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