Molly Walsh, JPMorgan Merchant Services
Telling the truth has been a powerful tool in the career of Molly Walsh, head of global product for JPMorgan Merchant Services.
Over a long career at parent company JPMorgan Chase, Walsh rose from operations to program management to president of commercial card before landing her present role, in which she’s being honored as one of this year’s Most Influential Women in Payments.
Habitually hard-working, Walsh discovered that being ambitious isn’t enough. To advance in an organization, you need to be honest about what you need.
Read more: The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2020
“Early on I believed that if I just did a good job, opportunities would come my way. That did happen at times, but not always, so I learned that you have to perform and also let people know about the opportunities and experiences you want,” she said.
Supervisors heard her, and they began to give Walsh increasingly tough tasks. Conquering each one, Walsh eventually became known across the organization for her ability to manage large-scale corporate events, complex client implementations and business-transformation initiatives.
As head of JPMorgan Merchant Services, Walsh is charged with helping to shape the company’s products reaching its largest merchants, and expanding the business internationally — particularly in the Asia Pacific and Latin America regions.
Naturally, taking on huge jobs brings daunting challenges.
The most risk Walsh felt was six years ago, when she was promoted to president of JPMorgan’s commercial card business, an area of payments that was new to her.
“I wasn’t even close to being a subject matter expert in commercial cards, which made me feel extremely vulnerable,” Walsh recalls.
Walsh leveled with the employees on her new team, and discovered something valuable.
“I told everyone that my learning curve here was beyond steep, and taking that approach I was able to learn so much from my colleagues about the commercial card business,” Walsh said.
In the years since, Walsh has deliberately deployed that type of “blank slate” approach to other business challenges, finding that it encourages her to ask more questions and make fewer assumptions.
Combining steel with sensitivity is another of Walsh’s hallmarks, a skill she developed when a colleague told Walsh to separate facts from feelings in the workplace.
“The advice was to leave emotions behind and focus on the facts and it will guide you to the best answer,” Walsh said.
Walsh combines that practical approach with “a good dose of emotional intelligence,” which she developed in part by surviving a serious childhood illness.
“You can face any challenge or tough decision with a good mix of facts, fortitude and a positive attitude,” Walsh said of that life-changing experience.
Honesty also helped Walsh at another critical juncture, when her husband sustained a brain injury, and she had to step back to focus on caring for him and her family.
“I was open about my needs at the time, and my direct leadership and my overall team were flexible," she said, "so while I didn’t take a formal leave, we worked together to strike the right balance to get through.”
Walsh believes advancement opportunities are always available to people who are determined enough.
“Take ownership of your path, know your worth — not just in terms of compensation but your inherent talents. Acknowledge the areas where you can improve, and never underestimate the power of having a strong network of truth-tellers and supporters,” she said.