Executives in the payments industry know the key to future technological advances rests solely in the hands of the consumer. Without consumer adoption, advances in payments quickly collect dust.

Reetika Grewal understands this reality particularly well, because of her background in consumer research that has been a major driver in her job as the head of payments strategy and solutions at Silicon Valley Bank the past four years.

"One of my first jobs out of college was as a user-centered design consultant at a boutique consulting firm that was focused on leveraging ethnographic research to help design products and services," said Grewal, who has been named a 2017 Most Influential Women in Payments honoree by PaymentsSource for the third time.

Reetika Grewal, Silicon Valley Bank

"Our research process entailed observing and interviewing consumers in their most intimate environments to understand the drivers behind their behaviors," she added. "This approach allowed me to develop a deep and holistic understanding of the customer."

This was not just the conventional method of asking customers a few questions. Grewal would interview customers and study hours of tape of consumers in action to fully understand their mindsets.

"This intense focus on the customer and understanding their experience has really helped to shape my approach to product design and development," said Grewal, who has a payments industry career spanning 15 years.

Prior to joining Silicon Valley Bank, Grewal worked as a vice president of payment strategy at JPMorgan Chase for nearly two years, and was involved in product strategy and business development at Clairmail for nearly four years. A short stint at the biometric payment company Pay By Touch in 2007 came after nearly five years as vice president of online payments product management at Wells Fargo.

At Silicon Valley Bank, Grewal helped launch Commerce.Innovated in 2015, an accelerator jointly run by MasterCard to help commerce, fintech and payments startups grow their businesses.

Expanding her voice in payments, Grewal joined the Electronic Transactions Association board last month.

In addition to a keen sense of what makes a customer tick, Grewal has also learned what makes a company and its staff find success.

"Throughout my career I have found that people that have been straightforward and authentic have been the most empowering people to work with," she said.

During her time as a consultant, she observed a younger colleague with the ability to quickly earn the trust of clients and managers through her genuine interactions.

"I observed this in her daily interactions, as well as during difficult client meetings," Grewal said. "She may not have always told the client what they wanted to hear, but she always advised them in a respectful and constructive way. This approach served her and the team well and stuck with me ever since."

CONTINUE READING: THE MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN IN PAYMENTS, 2017