Wednesday, May 26, 2010
On May 20, 2010, close to 40 women in the payments industry gathered at a Wells Fargo & Co. penthouse meeting room in San Francisco to attend the Women in Electronic Transactions (W.net) Local Interest Networking Circle (LINC) for Northern California. The draw was Debra Rossi, Executive Vice President, General Manager of Merchant Payment Solutions for Wells Fargo.
The event, sponsored by Wells Fargo, TASQ Technology, POS Portal Inc., E-Merchant Solutions and The Strawhecker Group, began with ample time to check in with other attendees while nibbling on cookies and other treats. A networking exercise from the toolbox of professional coach and consultant Linda A. Curtis followed.
Curtis asked each woman to think of one challenge or issue that, if resolved, would make a positive difference in her life. Participants then paired off and took turns presenting their issues to partners who offered two brief suggestions on how to move forward. When pairs were done, they found new partners and thus worked the room.
Then came Curtis' one-on-one interview with Rossi, who, it turns out, studied for a career in radio and television. But when she finished school, she said, there were no jobs in that field. She took a temporary job at Union Bank. Now, more than two decades and four bank mergers later, she is quick to credit others for her success. "I have always had the best people working with and for me," she said. "I owe them a debt of gratitude."
Curtis and Rossi covered a great deal of ground as they sat, relaxed yet poised, and conversed in front of the group. Rossi told stories from her personal experience and confessed that she's "not a good example of balance," but she does enjoy yoga, running, travel and spending time with her family when she's not immersed in the banking world.
Rossi recommends Maria Shriver's Women's Conference as a place to do high-level networking and become empowered (www.womensconference.org ). Shriver is "one of the most motivational speakers I've ever seen," she said. The next (and Shriver's last) conference is coming up in October; tickets will sell out "in 45 minutes" once they go on sale, she added.
And Rossi has advice for those who want to take their careers up a notch. "You have to network, rock the boat, challenge the status quo," she said. She encouraged people to ask: Why are we doing that? Could we be doing something differently? "Be vocal at meetings, and if something's wrong, you have to stand up," she said. She noted that she encourages her staff to question colleagues' decisions. "It's healthy to challenge and debate what's going on," she said. "Learn how to disagree."
Rossi also believes it is important for women professionals to be collaborative and help one another. "You should be the best advocate for the women you're working with," she said. "We are paving the way for women of the future. We have to support each other if we want to see women succeed."
The next LINC will be held at Bloomingdales in New York City on June 7. For more information about this event and W.net, visit www.w-net.biz .
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