Serena Smith isn't sure if her personality trait of "never taking no for an answer" is a skill to take pride in.
But the senior vice president, head of international payments and chief administrative officer at FIS is certain about one thing: "It does demonstrate my passion and perseverance when faced with obstacles that need overcoming."
That sort of drive has helped Smith earn a spot on PaymentsSource's 2017 Most Influential Women in Payments list.
"It is very scary early in your career to step out on that often narrow branch and be the sole voice that is pushing back and asking to move forward when the popular answer is to stop," said Smith, who has been in her current role at FIS for a year and part of the company's executive team for 14 years.
"I have found that over the years, this trait helped me to sharpen my skills in negotiation as well as boost my confidence in my capabilities, which have led to the roles that I have been fortunate to be a part of," Smith said.
Those roles include nearly four years as chief client officer, overseeing delivery of FIS financial services software products with the company's large Global Retail Payments division. She also spent five and a half years managing the company's electronic funds transfer platform, becoming a lead figure in the formation of the EFT Advisory Council. Since joining FIS in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2003, Smith has carried the title of a senior vice president.
Smith is a proponent of having things done faster because she knows FIS clients and consumers are pushing for payments and fund transfers to be quicker and more efficient. But it's not about being faster just for faster's sake.
"Faster as in yesterday — and with quality and polish," Smith said of services delivery and data gathering. "We have to continue to challenge the norm and push for new efficiencies and greater availability and ease of use of the data. Nothing frustrates me more than knowing we can get the information we need, but that it will take us days to get it."
Smith has a particular fondness for talking to millennial and Gen Z consumers, as well as keeping a close eye on how those younger generations interact with today's technology.
"I have learned these generations will not accept the boundaries of today’s technology," Smith said. "If an app doesn’t meet their needs, they will move on to the next."
The loyalty a Gen X individual will show toward a brand "will seem like a foreign concept to these younger generations," she added. "To stay relevant in today’s market, we have to create an experience that keeps the user engaged."
While she has focused her career on payments products and their delivery, Smith also makes time to pursue another passion — the health of the community she lives in.
"I spend my spare time volunteering and fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in their search for a cure," Smith said. "I believe that we are right at the tip of the spear, and a cure for cancer will be found soon."
Smith also struggles with the fact "that people in the U.S. go hungry every day." To that end, she supports the Meals on Wheels program. "Ensuring our kids and elderly have a hot meal is important to me," she said.