In financial services, women are on the rise in what has traditionally been a male-dominated environment. This year, as PaymentsSource honors The Most Influential Women in Payments, a new pattern has emerged.
In past years, many of the honorees demonstrated an ability to break glass ceilings within older companies. This year, they are breaking ground at new companies, while also demonstrating that innovation and influence can come from any corner of the world.
This year's list recognizes the contributions of entrepreneurs who took their ideas directly to market, showcasing new ways of handling business in an industry that is forced to quickly adapt to rapid changes in technology and global culture.
Suneera Madhani, for example, did not get discouraged when her male bosses laughed at her client-friendly idea for merchant acquiring. Instead, she founded her own company, Fattmerchant, to let the market decide whether her idea had merit. "It was clear that [my bosses] didn't understand my vision or the model I was passionate about building," she said of the experience. "The rejection fueled my fire and served as a sign that I was onto something."
Amy Parsons, senior vice president of global acceptance for Discover, is one of several honorees who represents the increasingly global nature of the payments industry. One of the biggest opportunities in her career — building a global ATM network from scratch within a year to serve Discover's acquisition of Diners Club International — required her to move to the U.K. from the U.S. "From that first phone call, I knew this project was going to be a defining moment in my career," she said.
Denise Pickett, chief risk officer and president of global risk, banking and compliance at American Express, also chose to cross borders to further her career. After 17 years with Amex in Canada, the company offered Pickett a position at its New York headquarters. It meant moving her family from its home of many years in Toronto, to a suburb in New Jersey. "Surprisingly, my husband and three children were almost immediately on board," Pickett said.
And the growing spotlight on sexual misconduct in the workplace has prompted fresh, open discussions on the issues of workplace harassment and gender bias. This year's honorees shared their own perspectives on the role bias played in their careers, and how it affects the industry as a whole.
"While bias is as natural as being human, handling it right is important," said Archana "Archie" Puri, head of product management at PayPal's Braintree. "One of my proudest moments was when the men on an interview panel turned away a candidate for how he spoke to a female interviewer."
Please click "start slideshow" above to view profiles of this year's honorees, presented in alphabetical order.