ORLANDO, Fla. - Being influential in the payments industry isn't just about positions or titles; it's about driving the course of business while also setting an example for others to follow in their careers and personal lives.
Many of the honorees featured in PaymentsSource's 2014 Most Influential Women in Payments gathered at SourceMedia's annual Card Forum and Expo to share their advice and experience.
"You are influential, whether you want to be or not," said Melissa Smith, president and CEO of WEX Inc., who recently received a surge of media attention for announcing her pregnancy shortly after taking the CEO job.
She was surprised by the attention, especially since she participated in only one media interview after issuing a memo to her company's employees announcing her plans for balancing her job responsibilities with her maternity leave.
"It became a very thoughtful experience," she said. "It's an important conversation for people to have because it should happen more frequently, but at the same time I want to be known for my career."
Other honorees spoke of how important it is for women to make sure their career ambitions do not consume them so completely that they forget their personal lives.
"Who's going to push us around the old folks' home? It's not our coworkers," said Colleen Taylor, executive vice president, head of treasury management and enterprise payments at Capital One.
In a previous job at JPMorgan Chase, she described herself as a workaholic the sort of person who sleeps with her BlackBerry under her pillow. But after she lost her job during layoffs, her perspective changed.
Because she was no longer tied to her bank job, Taylor was able to see her sister have a child. Now, with a newfound value for her personal and family life, Taylor says she has stopped checking email through the night.
"Sometimes you don't make the change, the change is put on you, and it's how you respond," she said.
And Holli Targan, a partner at Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer and Weiss, is not only proud of her ascendance to the presidency of the ETA but also of raising two daughters, one going through law school and the other through medical school.
Many of the women were surprised to find themselves in positions of influence, but are eager to make the most of that role.
"I don't think of myself as being powerful or influential but clearly we ought to start embracing that," said Linda Perry, who started her own consulting company, Linda S. Perry Consulting after retiring from Visa after 17 years in 2009.
Perry reached out to several of the Most Influential Women in Payments honorees who were not able to attend Card Forum and shared their thoughts.
Pamela Joseph, vice chair of payment services at U.S. Bancorp, told Perry that she uses her influence to convince people to do things they don't think they can possibly do.
Annmarie "Mimi" Hart, president and CEO of MagTek, told Perry that payments is about to change radically, and women can lead the way.
Perry says at the start of her career, she didn't even view herself as part of a payments industry.
"Who knew this was an industry?" Perry said. "In the past we called ourselves bankers."
The women who spoke at Card Forum also had specific things they wanted to change in the payments industry.
Both Taylor and Targan said they'd like to influence regulators since the regulatory burden on payments companies is quite onerous.
"There seems to be so much more regulatory pressure on payments companies...and it's misguided in many ways," said Targan.
Taylor agreed saying, "It's increasingly hard for poor people to bank here. I just think there's a lot of regulatory scrutiny and compliance initiatives that are actually squeezing out a population and it's a big population."
Capital One is one of several banks that recently cut off relationships with check cashers and payday lenders.
"How do we have a safe payment environment and not exclude a whole huge population?" she asked.
Sabrina Chin, Walmart's senior director of payments services, has even broader goals. At Walmart, "we think the card payment system is quite broken," she said. "We think there needs to be a balance in the payments ecosystem."
Walmart has been a strong backer of merchant-led mobile wallet initiative, the Merchant Customer Exchange, which aims to keep valuable customer data in the hands of the merchants.
Walmart sees opportunity in moving in the same direction as the European Union and other regions which are developing low-cost innovative payment products or decreasing or capping interchange fees, she said.