How Colleen Taylor created new rungs in her long payments career

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In her steady advance up the payments industry career ladder, Colleen Taylor has pursued a consistent theme of taking on challenging roles at pivotal moments, which has propelled her trajectory.

It will be no different at her newest post as president of U.S. merchant services at American Express, where Taylor will have a chance to continue her pattern of conquering diverse challenges over 30 years, from the corporate to the personal.

In the newly created role, Taylor will be the key executive with responsibility for acquiring and managing relationships with millions of Amex merchants at a time when fintech rivals like PayPal are upping the competition and open banking is introducing threats to payments cards’ roles in commerce.For Taylor, who was honored in 2015, 2016 and 2019 as one of PaymentsSource’s Most Influential Women in Payments, landing such a key position in this tumultuous year is also particularly significant.

Opportunities at the top and in C-suites suddenly seem to be cracking open, with Citi’s announcement today that Jane Fraser will become the first woman to lead a major U.S. bank as CEO.

Taylor is primed for the challenges she will face, coming to Amex after a 14-month stint as executive vice president of merchant services at Wells Fargo, where navigated the bank’s highly competitive payment card services strategy.

Prior to Wells Fargo, Taylor was executive vice president of new payments at Mastercard, where she served for two and a half years. She also held key roles at Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, the Clearing House and Nacha.

Taylor’s broad experiences over eight years in different roles at Capital One gave her insight into the way mobile and digital technology was changing payments, as well as potential payments applications for blockchain and how IoT technology may reshape commerce.

While Taylor was at Capital One and the bank’s resources were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, Taylor played a hands-on role in helping to manage the crisis, including helping a school district whose offices were flooded get out their payroll.

The climb required grit, Taylor said.

Often Taylor was the only woman on the team, and occasionally she encountered friction, Taylor told PaymentsSource in 2016. But Taylor said her skill at building strong relationships with friends and colleagues sustained her, noting that “success is rarely a solo act.”

In an interview with Arizent’s American Banker when she was at Capital One in 2013, Taylor said she had observed the power of “reverse-mentoring” at a previous employer when a blind colleague helped a senior executive understand unique challenges others face in the workplace. Taylor had a chance to share her own perspective as a Black female executive with a senior leader in a different reverse-mentoring situation.

In a conversation last year when she was one of PaymentsSource’s Most Influential Women in Payments honorees, Taylor admitted to a competitive streak that came from being raised in a large family that traveled a lot because of her father’s military career.

That history also drove Taylor's innate curiosity to tackle new spheres and subjects, which have proved invaluable in her career.

At Amex Taylor will report to Anré Williams, Amex’s group president of global merchant and network services.

“Taylor is a seasoned, strategic leader who brings broad and deep expertise, along with a valuable external perspective, to American Express,” Williams said in a Thursday press release.

“The payments landscape has growth in complexity with the move to digitization and many more key stakeholders are involved in the end-to-end processing of a transaction,” Taylor said in the release.

Taylor has long admired Amex, she said in a note to followers on LinkedIn.

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