Louise Pentland, PayPal

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Against the backdrop that is the contentious immigration debate in the U.S., Louise Pentland can say she has a passion and firsthand experience for improving the lives of those navigating the process of being accepted into this country.

Her pro bono legal work for the nonprofit Human Rights Institute put her on the front lines of helping refugees in desperate situations. The experience made her want to work for a company with "a strong set of values and a purpose that was even bigger than just driving value for shareholders," Pentland said.

"I found what I was looking for in PayPal and our CEO Dan Schulman," said Pentland, an executive vice president with the e-commerce giant and one of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments for 2018.

Pentland came into the corporate world of PayPal in April of 2015 with a wealth of experience. She spent 17 years in management and legal work at Nokia before taking a sabbatical to spend time with her family — and discover the human rights organization in the process.

"Since working with HRI, almost everything I've done can be traced back to my time with the organization and what I learned about service and commitment," she said.

She's proud of PayPal's Customer Choice initiative in 2015, a program designed to offer access to digital financial and commerce services to as many individuals and businesses as possible.

"To achieve this mission, better serve our customers and drive growth for our company and industry, we have signed strategic partnerships with more than 20 companies across the ecosystem — even with a few competitors," she said. "By giving equal footing to every payment option on our platform, we have afforded our customers the freedom to pay however they want."

PayPal managers were convinced to enter these partnerships because they knew that offering more options on the PayPal platform would be better for customers, Pentland added.

It's helped provide continued inspiration for Pentland regarding the role PayPal, through extended fintech, can play in driving more inclusive economic opportunity around the planet.

"It has been estimated that more than 2 billion people are underserved by or completely excluded from the traditional financial system," she said. "Not only is that patently unfair, but it is also economically unproductive. We’ve seen firsthand that improving the financial life of just one person can have ripple effects across families, communities, cities, countries and eventually to the global economy.

"Everyone wins in an inclusive economy. I am fascinated by that concept and committed to making it a reality."

As PayPal continues to find its footing after its split from eBay, including the recent switch eBay made to Adyen as its preferred processing partner, Pentland predicts PayPal will thrive as it embraces diversity and continues its mission of consumer choice.

"There are diversity challenges in our industry," she said. "After PayPal split from eBay, we looked closely at the diversity and statistics in the company. These numbers, however, didn’t tell the full story and we looked beyond the data to examine how our company was promoting and prioritizing diversity."

Pentland says she has "no problem" calling potential partners out in meetings or passing on hiring a law firm partner "if they don't reflect the values of PayPal."

From that standpoint, she encourages colleagues who encounter homogeneity to speak up and not be afraid to challenge the status quo.

"The freedom to question or challenge opens up room for innovation," she said.

READ MORE: The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2018

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