Even though Racy Morgan may have learned about financial services, payments and management as part of her education, her career's foundation is more firmly set in her real-life experiences as an immigrant from India living in the U.S.
It's been a 17-year journey with plenty of challenges, but one that has landed Morgan a spot as one of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments this year.
"My heritage, history and journeys have influenced who I am today," said Morgan, the head of payment strategy and execution at U.S. Bank for the past 14 months. "I was the only girl born to my family in a small conservative town in India."
With support from her family, she came to the U.S. for higher education at the age of 20 and, despite having lived in other parts of the world, she admits "nothing had prepared me for the experience."
"I did not know a single soul, had limited means, and encountered massive culture shock," she said. "I struggled, felt dejected and at one point contemplated giving up and returning home."
Instead, she persevered. Morgan learned the value of opening up and discovered the beauty of building and relying on a support structure for success. This key lesson has carried over to her executive role in payments.
"I am collaborative and can form valuable and trusting relationships, and I am fearless when taking calculated risks," Morgan said. "I can create tremendous value by learning catalytically and aggressively about new areas through my innate curiosity."
Over the years, Morgan said these skills have served her well in pursuing new opportunities and delivering on strategic initiatives for many organizations, including U.S. Bank.
Prior to landing her role at U.S. Bank, Morgan served a year and a half at the bank's payment processing unit, Elavon Inc., as senior vice president of global business intelligence.
She also spent nearly four and a half years at IHG as a director of strategy and analytics for global sales and marketing, and nine years as a manager at BearingPoint (formerly KPMG Consulting) from 2000 to 2009.
Early in her career, after her potential successor requested a transfer to another team, Morgan said she learned a valuable lesson about listening closely to co-workers and better understanding what they want in their lives, rather than what path she felt they needed for success. This person did not desire longer hours and more ability to impact others, helping Morgan to be more empathetic toward what millennial workers value.
"My teams have been rated among the most engaged units consistently due to my routine checks and ability to look at my blind sides more carefully," Morgan said. "I attribute one of my current responsibilities as the employee engagement champion for U.S. Bank Payments Services to this young colleague many years ago who had the courage to tell me the truth and set me on the right path."
Morgan keeps a "memory jar" on her desk, a gift she received from her co-workers prior to joining U.S. Bank in which messages and sticky notes outlined how and when she made an impact on coworkers' thoughts, moods and passion.
"It is absolutely the most prized and valuable item I have owned in my life," she said.