What it Takes to be an ‘Influential Woman in Payments’ [Q&A]
Coming off the back of International Women’s Day this past weekend, PaymentsSource has recognized the Most Influential Women in Payments, spanning multiple industries including financial services, retail, investment and technology. Among the honorees is ACI’s very own Carolyn Homberger, group president, global sales. Part of the executive leadership team at ACI, Carolyn leads a team of payments professionals operating across all global regions, and plays a critical role in setting business strategy. As an advocate for the leadership and growth of women in the payments industry, Carolyn is also responsible for launching ACI’s own Women’s Initiative.
I took a moment to chat with Carolyn to understand her perspective on the state of the industry, and what it takes to be an ‘influential woman in payments.’
Nidhi Alberti: Carolyn, first let me congratulate you on being selected among the honorees in this year’s Most Influential Women in Payments! How does it feel?
Carolyn Homberger: I’m absolutely delighted to be among such influential women from all across our industry. I couldn’t be more proud and it motivates me to continue my drive to raise the profile of women in the payments industry. Women have so much to offer, and businesses must understand the unique experience and perspectives that women bring to the table.
NA: Well, we couldn’t be more proud. So, tell me, what does it take to become an influential woman in payments?
CH: To be a truly influential player in this industry, it’s important for women to not only have a seat at the executive table, but they must have a clear voice. Without women’s voices at leadership discussions, it’s not just the business that suffers, it’s the economy as a whole. Secondly, it’s crucial that women support each other by being mentors for those just starting out in the industry. I’ve had mentors along the way that have backed me and advocated for me on many occasions, and I owe a lot to them as well. This isn’t something one can achieve on their own, it takes a village… of women helping women.
NA: How can women bring fresh ideas to fintech?
CH: I see two key opportunities for women to bring fresh ideas to fintech. One is in contributing to, and integrating, payments with social media. I believe the industry is just scratching the surface in how we integrate social media and payments. At the heart of nearly every business transaction is a payment – an exchange of value between two parties. Social media and a personalized experience change the game in how value is defined. Further, social media levels the playing field in how we interact as 'players' in the industry. What was once dominated by a handful of highly concentrated players who set the rules is now 'fair game' globally – and this is driving considerable innovation and disruption.
The second opportunity for women is in bringing the 'female' mindset and experience to payments. It is no secret that women are under-represented in fintech. It is important that we contribute our unique perspective in product development and how we lead our companies to better serve the female end-consumer.
NA: What do you like about working in the payments industry?
CH: The payments industry is akin to a supersonic airliner driven by some of the most skilled pilots in business. Fueled by technology, it has the potential to connect people to places they never dreamed of visiting. And, it has provided me with a truly rewarding 12+ year career.
As mentioned earlier, payments are at the heart of nearly every transaction. With several million transactions taking place every second, there exists a variety of business challenges that elevate the industry. Equally, the industry is increasingly global, highly technical and navigated by a talented group of people seemingly connected 'real time' by the very work they do. Finally, the jet fuel in the equation is technology, which is the real power propelling payments.
There is no question that the convergence of digital payments and customer experience have changed how consumers and businesses interact with each other. These digital transactions create an equal and fair playing field for economic growth across the globe. Having a career in an industry that serves human needs and truly has the power to change the world, is an incredibly rewarding and humbling way to make a living.
NA: What advice do you have for young women out there looking to make it in the payments industry?
CH: I would tell them to make sure they find a mentor both inside and outside the business that can support them in their career path and provide different perspectives. In addition, I would say, make your voice heard and don’t be afraid to fail. Women have a unique set of skills that the industry requires and we shouldn’t be afraid to use that to our advantage.
Carolyn will join this year’s final honorees for an awards ceremony at Card Forum, taking place May 21-23, 2019 in New Orleans.
Read more about Carolyn Homberger’s recent selection to PaymentsSource’s ‘Most Influential Women in Payments: www.paymentssource.com/news/carolyn-homberger-aci-worldwide
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