Susanne Steidl loves building things, which suits her job as chief product officer for Wirecard, where she continually develops new use cases for digital payments in everything from the gig economy to global travel.
Steidl, who joined the German company in 2006 after years in software and technology development, was closely involved with Wirecard’s purchase of Citi’s North American prepaid card business. In her role she played a part in assessing the business in 2016, performing the technical due diligence and helping to negotiate the deal, which closed last year.
“This was my first acquisition, and it was a big ship to steer,” Steidl said, reflecting on the high degree of collaboration and creativity the deal demanded from men—and many women—on both sides.
The process reminded her of the powerful camaraderie she experienced early in her career at a startup that zoomed quickly from five to 70 employees.
“It all relied on teamwork, brainstorming, sharing our different points of view and expertise,” Steidl said, adding that even though she didn’t have a lot of connections in the beginning, she received loads of informal mentorship on the job from colleagues that included women.
“No matter where you are in your career or how large or small your work culture, it’s important to always try to encourage each other and to pull each other up,” Steidl said.
At Wirecard, she was recently named product chief and this year is honored as one of PaymentsSource’s Most Influential Women of Payments.
The speed of recent digital payments development astonishes Steidl. “In emerging markets, they can think differently and onboard people to new technologies much faster, and this means a lot for financial inclusion, too,” she said, noting there are many lessons that also apply to mature markets.
Wirecard puts a high priority on finding and promoting top talent, and when the best person for a job is a woman, sometimes extra measures must be taken to keep them engaged, Steidl said.
For example, a woman on Steidl’s team was prepared to resign when she felt forced to choose between her job and her family, but Wirecard intervened to create a job-sharing option with another woman, and both are still thriving at the company. “Businesses must not limit their pool of talent simply because accommodating them required a bit of effort,” she said.
In her free time, Steidl has reconstructed two houses, and whenever she gets the chance she hits the slopes to ski.
Though she could be happy in many other fields—including studying archeology or art history—digital payments currently holds Steidl’s full attention.
Still, she admits to a bit of disappointment that mobile payments technology has not progressed further.
“Five years ago, I believed that real-time capabilities would be much further along by now," she said. "Our world now is one where everything takes place instantly—for millennials, real-time technology is a way of life. Payments needs to catch up. We’re getting there, and I’m excited to try to drive progress in that direction.”
READ MORE: The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2018