Mia Shernoff, First Data
First Data’s transformation over the past few years has involved much more than transaction automation, and has relied heavily on the creativity and ingenuity of executives such as Mia Shernoff.
“At First Data, as in most B2B companies, marketing is no longer just a ‘nice to have’ function but a high contributor to the business, accountable for driving both customer acquisition and brand perception,” said Mia Shernoff, global head of marketing and corporate communications at First Data, and one of PaymentsSource’s Most Influential Women in Payments for 2019.
There’s been a lot of changes at First Data, which has grown from a merchant acquirer to a broad-based merchant services and technology company. Some of that change is coming through deals, with First Data on both sides of big mergers that are adding breadth, products, new markets and new clients.
First Data’s evolution began earlier in the decade under CEO Frank Bisignano, who “took a sprawling, giant but ailing company and turned [it] around,” Shernoff said.
The recovery has improved financial performance and made First Data a good fit for Fiserv, which has agreed to acquire First Data for $22 billion. Shernoff said she could not discuss the Fiserv deal, per SEC rules.
In the past year alone, First Data’s marketing team generated hundreds of thousands of leads for the company’s sales leads globally, and a “good percentage” of them turned into new clients, Shernoff said, taking note of First Data’s Clover tablet point of sale system.
Clover expanded in Europe over the past year and has a market with more than 300 applications available in the U.S. During Shernoff’s tenure at First Data, the company has created a customer acquisition channel by scaling a self-service account boarding platform.
The company additionally launched marketing-as-a-service, which is a turnkey marketing program for partners such as retailers and banks.
The science of marketing includes "analytics to target opportunities and research to understand the segmentation and buyer behavior,” Shernoff said. “The ‘art’ is the messaging and magnification, including the digital messaging to reach the audience.”
Shernoff has been in her current post for more than three years, after more than 13 years as chief marketing officer at Chase Paymentech, in addition to roles in product management, innovation and marketing at Aon, Hewlett Packard and Citi.
“Another person who comes to mind is Mike Duffy,” Shernoff said, referring to the former CEO and founder of Chase Paymentech, who died in 2013. Duffy led innovation in online transactions, such as bringing mail and phone order payment models to the internet. “That type of innovation happened not just with smarts and technical prowess, but through bold collaborations and an ability to inspire people.”
Shernoff was a founder of the Merchant Advisory Group in 2003, and board member of the Merchant Risk Council from 2007 to 2014. She is the current chair and leadership ambassador for Girls Who Code and First Data’s Women’s Leadership Council.
Each summer, First Data brings more than two dozen young women who are part of the Girls Who Code program to First Data’s operations and technology centers for training, project work and mentoring. “Increasing the number of talented women who have a significant voice in payments is going to take strong and sincere intent supported by substantial action,” Shernoff said.