Jennifer Petty, Bank of America

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When established leaders offer advice on success, they often overlook the obvious: advice on how to start the journey.

Jennifer Petty has six simple words of advice on how to advance past the first rung and into management: “Earn it, then ask for it.”

Petty is head of global and comprehensive payables in global transaction services at Bank of America and one of PaymentsSource’s honorees for Most Influential Women in Payments of 2020.

Read more: The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2020

She shares this key advice with interns, mentees and junior employees. It’s also something that she practices herself. Petty recommended setting goals of where a person wants to be by a certain milestone, such as years of service or age.

Petty’s goal was to become a senior vice president by the age of 30, and she achieved it by taking a risk on pushing a partnership with a fintech in 2005 to overcome the challenges Bank of America faced when dealing with the impact of aging technology. At the time, it was not common for banks to work with startup fintechs, especially on infrastructure. In other words, it was a ‘bet the career move,’ to say the least. Yet it worked.

Jennifer Petty, Head of Global Card and Comprehensive Payables in Global Transaction Services, Bank of America
Jennifer Petty, Head of Global Card and Comprehensive Payables in Global Transaction Services, Bank of America

After getting her first win under her belt to work with the partner, Petty then convinced management to eventually acquire the fintech to secure a market leadership role for the bank. A request for the name of the fintech was declined by Bank of America as it stated that the name was never publicly disclosed.

Progressive steps along her career have given Petty the mantra to always drive forward. “Don’t wait for someone to come to you. Never let your gender be a place of doubt. In my mind, it’s not relevant,” said Petty.

While all heroes and heroines succeed in Disney stories, real-life’s challenges can often get in the way of achieving one’s goal. For Petty, it was the start of her family and trying to balance the ever-increasing demands of an executive role at a major bank and the needs of a newborn.

“As a new mom, I struggled with a common dilemma that many women face, which I felt I wasn’t giving 100% to my job or my family," Petty said. "I had a lot on my plate at work, so I stayed at the office trying to get through everything that needed to be done."

Growing work responsibilities meant late hours at the office, and it led to her manager to suggest that she speak with a leadership coach to help her regain a work-life balance.

“He suggested I try leaving work at a decent hour every night and avoid taking home any office work to complete later in the evening," Petty said. "I started taking his advice. I realized I needed to delegate more and only attend meetings that were essential for completing my job."

While not easy at first, this change helped her settle into a routine that made her more present at work and at home.

Looking ahead, Petty predicts a significant amount of change in the payments industry that could create potential career and business opportunities. Most notable are technologies already coming into view with biometrics, mobile devices and contactless digital payments.

How each player reacts will largely determine their future success. For example, Petty noted that the use of physical credit cards will continue to decline and that the card networks will continue to diversify to use their rails to facilitate many types of payments.

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