Stephanie Ferris has had two pivotal experiences in her career at Vantiv — first, leaving a 20-year career in finance to become general manager of Vantiv’s bank referral business; and second, becoming CFO of Vantiv (now Worldpay) in March 2017.
In the first instance, the business line needed a significant turnaround including re-acceleration of sales, development of a new strategy, value proposition and product set.
“This was a fantastic challenge as well as a major turning point trying to do things like sales, customer service, and product development — things that I had only ever advised on from a finance chair,” said Ferris. “My team and I created a consultative approach that developed a partnership that customers trusted, attracting and retaining customers and improving product economies. The strategy grew the underperforming business unit to become the fastest growing channel in the company within two years.”
Innovation in the payments industry has been at the core of Ferris’ professional interests, which is why she is recognized this year as one of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments.
“I have always been and continue to love and be fascinated by the pace of change in the payments industry," she said.
One example is the shift to EMV-chip cards from pure magstripe cards. In the U.S., that shift lagged other parts of the world but picked up speed as the card networks' 2015 liability shift took effect. Consumers were at first resistant to the new process, but were quick to adapt.
"I was surprised at how fast the consumer adopted the EMV changes," she said. "I thought the pushback would be much stronger.”
On the subject of gender bias in the payments industry, Ferris provides some words of wisdom for both men and women.
“I believe men and women both contribute to this bias," she said. "I would recommend that everyone lean into taking risks on putting women in new roles and making sure that they have a safety net while being put in that role.
"To achieve success, you need a vision, you need to stay focused, be willing to take risks, use information to inform your strategies and, most importantly, inspire and field teams that have varied skill sets, industry backgrounds and experiences. It’s never easy and we don’t always succeed, but when we do it brings you a new perspective and opens your eyes for new opportunities.”
READ MORE: The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2018