Patty Watson had a tenured career in the banking and payments industry before becoming a senior executive with TSYS. Her path included a 15-year stint with a financial institution that she found to be instrumental in developing her career as an innovator.

"Back in the early 2000s, when I worked as a technology manager at a major national bank, they put me through a development program for women,” said Watson. “We spent a full year together, one day a month, discussing what we could do differently as females in our profession to meet some of the career goals many of us aspired to achieve.

Patty Watson, Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Information Officer, TSYS
Patty Watson, Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Information Officer, TSYS
"Taking a wait-and-see approach is no longer an option in our current climate."

"To me, one of the big takeaways from that program was around relationships — making a deliberate effort at maintaining relationships with people both inside and outside of your company, because it’s a way to learn and continue to grow. Many of the opportunities that I had during my 15-year tenure at the bank came from the relationships I established.”

The companies in the payments industry that survive are those that can adapt to the rapidly shifting technology trends, according to Watson, who says that despite TSYS having a 35-year pedigree, there is no room for complacency.

“Rapid change is now a constant reality companies in the same payments space as TSYS must deal with on a daily basis," said Watson, who is being honored this year as one of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments.

"Taking a wait-and-see approach is no longer an option in our current climate," she said. "Instead, companies must adapt to technology advancements and be a driver of change within the industry. At TSYS, we have an opportunity to build on our success as an early entrant into the payments industry. But with that history comes competition. Our challenge, if we want to achieve the goals we have set out for ourselves as a company, is to be agile and flexible in all areas of our business.”

Working for a company with data at the heart of its performance, Watson is focused how the industry responds to new technologies. Data and AI are the topics that fascinate her the most, given how they provide an opportunity to refine the customer experience and remove friction from the payment process.

Outside of TSYS, Watson has a significant role as a parent of five children, including a 16-year-old son who has Down Syndrome, which has led her to be a passionate advocate for people with disabilities.

This would probably be the basis of an alternative career for Watson if she wasn’t working in payments.

“I would lead an effort to build a community where people like my son can live, work and play in a safe environment,” said Watson. “You can define community however you want, but it would be a place where you have people who help individuals like my son live independently in a safe environment.

“I’ve always been an avid supporter for people with intellectual disabilities having meaningful work. Fortunately, I’m not the only one who shares that position. I’m lucky to work for TSYS, which shares my passion for making a positive impact for people with disabilities.

"TSYS is part of Project SEARCH, a national program tasked with helping young people with disabilities learn meaningful skills they can apply to both their personal and professional lives. Thanks to our intern program, we are able to teach a valuable skill set to students with disabilities in our local school district, and many of them go on to have an opportunity to gain meaningful employment upon graduation from the program."

READ MORE: The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2018

Nick Holland

Nick Holland

Nick Holland is a senior analyst at PaymentsSource. He has previously held analyst roles at Javelin Strategy & Research, Yankee Group and Aite Group.