By Peggy Bekavac Olson
I participated in something truly amazing recently - the largest gathering of women in payments ever assembled for the purpose of networking, personal development, camaraderie and celebration. More than 150 women, representing over 50 companies in our industry, attended the Women's Network in Electronic Payments (W.net) Annual Career Leadership & Summit at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta. The event, billed as Sharpening Your Leadership Style and Staying Relevant in Today's Workforce, was right on target: staying true to the stated goals of guiding personal and professional skills development while providing education on key industry, business and women's issues.
Pam Joseph, Vice Chairman of US Bancorp Payment Services and Chairman of Elavon Inc., got the ball rolling with her state of the industry address. Joseph shared her thoughts and views of what's happening in payments and the global economy today.
She emphasized mobile as the area she feels holds the greatest promise for business and career opportunity. Joseph was reluctant to talk much about herself, so Beth Blaisdell, Senior Vice President of Payment Solutions for Elavon, got the crowd roaring with her take on Joseph's personal life, which included good-natured quips about her family and friends.
A trifecta from Sage Payment Solutions - Chris Scappa, Senior Vice President of Operations; Lisa Cohn, Director of Operations; and Irene Lovewell, Senior Training Advisor - conducted the Going the Extra Mile workshop. They shared stories of women who have gone above and beyond what's expected to be successfully positioned for career advancement. They also engaged the audience in career planning and ongoing growth and development activities.
During Show Me the Money, Margaret Weichert, Managing Director at Market Platform Dynamics, explained how innovation in the payments industry is driving a host of new business models. Weichert highlighted several new technologies that could create opportunity and value for traditional industry players, and profiled innovations that could be disruptive and give well-known payment companies a run for their money.
Wendy Clark, Senior Vice President of Integrated Marketing Communications and Capabilities for The Coca-Cola Co., was the keynote speaker. During The Path to Success: Lift as you Climb, Clark quoted a McKinsey Co. study indicating the most important corporate resource over the next 20 years will be talent: smart, sophisticated business people who are technologically literate, globally astute and operationally agile.
She also cited Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founding President and Ripa Rashid, Executive Vice President at the Center for Work-Life Policy. Their belief is that the face of top talent in emerging markets during the coming decade will most likely be that of a woman.
One of Coca-Cola's corporate priorities is to achieve true diversity through recruiting, developing and advancing women in the workplace.
Clark said the company has a strong pool of women in low- to mid-level job grades, but the company is far from reaching its workforce goal of 50 percent men and 50 percent women at all levels of the organization by 2020. Coca-Cola hopes to reach equality by retaining existing female talent, recruiting women into key open roles and developing a pipeline of ready-now and ready-future female candidates.
Clark discussed several changes she believes need to take place to increase women's leadership at Coca-Cola and elsewhere. Her remarks were valid and compelling; the ones that resonated most with me were:
Clark dismissed the term "work-life balance," preferring "life integration" as a goal women should aspire to achieve. She offered these eight life integration tips:
In today's competitive work environment, education and experience are no longer enough to secure your position. Business attire, etiquette, communication skills and social acumen are all equally important. During Building Your Professional Brand, Barbara Roeber, Senior Vice President of Business Development at First Data Corp., shared insights on how to showcase unique personal attributes and maximize visibility to spur career progression. Joan Herbig, Chief Executive Officer of ControlScan, tackled Organizational Savvy: Career Lessons Learned. She explained that she's acquired important lessons from each company she's worked for that encompass culture, change, markets and business models. Herbig offered these guidelines to increase organizational savvy:
The event concluded with a panel of industry executives from emerging payment technology companies that included Will Wang Graylin, Chief Executive Officer of ROAM Data Inc.; Kathleen Hutchison, Senior Director for Global Risk Management at PayPal Inc.; Tammy Schuring, Vice President of Sales for Voltage Security Inc.; and Debra Stone, Associate Director of New Technologies for Verizon Wireless.
Panel members identified hot jobs available today, predicted hot jobs of the future, detailed the background and experience they feel is necessary to secure these positions and discussed how women can position themselves to take advantage of these opportunities.
In addition to the superb agenda, the summit provided ample opportunities for networking, fun and celebration. Winners of this year's W.net Driving Improvement via Action (DIVA) awards were First Data for diversity; Atlanta for strongest LINC; and Elizabeth Pike, Director of Sales Recruiting at Heartland Payment Systems Inc., for spirit. A silent auction raised thousands of dollars for future programming and activities.
The W.net Career & Leadership Summit was a resounding success. I am in awe of the caliber of speakers and attendees assembled, and feel privileged to have been a part of this inspiring and transformational event.
Peggy Bekavac Olson founded Strategic Marketing, a full-service marketing and communications firm specializing in financial services and electronic payment companies, after serving as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for TSYS. She can be reached at 480-706-0816 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about Strategic Marketing can be found at www.smktg.com.
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