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Mastercard’s Jess Turner: “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became An EVP”

“I think people need to believe in what they are working towards and need to be part of building the roadmap towards achieving the goals set before them. We are all more motivated and committed when we believe in what we are working on and are empowered to make a difference. That’s how an organization thrives.”

I had the pleasure to interview Jess Turner. Jess is the Executive Vice President, Digital Payments and Labs for North America and Global Customer Engagement for Mastercard. In North America, she leads the strategy, commercialization and product management of digital payments products, which includes; Masterpass, Mastercard Digital Enablement Service (MDES), Personal Payments and Labs. Additionally, Jess is responsible for Customer Digital Engagement with key issuers globally, leading a product development and engineering team to collaborate with the largest global issuers worldwide to advance payments.

What is your “backstory”?

I started my career at what at the time was an up and coming small card issuer, Capital One. Obviously we know where that story goes! During my time there I worked with a team of incredibly smart and analytical people and had an opportunity to move around the business and increase my responsibilities quickly as the business grew. From there I took advantage of an opportunity with a smaller B2B loyalty company where I led a large team and increased my scope of responsibility significantly. The variance from my previous role allowed me to expand my capabilities and expertise. This is where my path comes to Mastercard where I’ve been for over 11 years now. During this time I’ve had the opportunity to work in roles across our business and diverse markets, while also engaging with customers across the issuing, merchant and digital sides. And while busy pursuing my career, I’ve also always made time for family raising two energetic little boys with my husband, who remind me every day what matters most.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Within my role as an EVP, I would say one of the most interesting things I’ve learned is how vastly different markets around the world can be, particularly within the payment technology landscape. Just think about the use of contactless cards for example. In a market like Australia these cards are nearly ubiquitous with consumers preferring to tap their contactless enabled card at the point of sale. On the flip side, here in the U.S. where contactless has long been available we’re only just now seeing the consumer uptake of this payment option as a means of speeding through checkout. There are also of course a few things that remain constant as you travel the globe including the need to deliver solutions that solve for consumer choice, as well as security, transparency and privacy as key pillars.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Many things make our company different but what I am most proud of is our dedication to work with and for our partners around the world so they can leverage our assets and technology to be a force for good and ultimately help consumers. Whether that means bringing digital innovation into emerging markets like Africa to bring people into the financial mainstream or making every day easier for consumers as physical and digital converge in developed markets, like we have using MDES to enable the ecosystem for tokenization (more secure transactions).

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

We live in a world where people can move from virtual to augmented to mixed realities seamlessly. Where someone’s social connections outpace their physical connections. Where commerce is enabled through phones, websites, fitness bands, smart mirrors, shoppable windows — and just about any other environment you can think of. This excites me as it opens up a world of possibilities in how we build new and exciting consumer use cases that provide a frictionless consumer experience while also maintaining the integrity of consumers’ information across the digital journey.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

I think people need to believe in what they are working towards and need to be part of building the roadmap towards achieving the goals set before them. We are all more motivated and committed when we believe in what we are working on and are empowered to make a difference. That’s how an organization thrives.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

There are so many people I am grateful for, as I have been so fortunate to work with fantastically brilliant and good people throughout my career. My current surroundings allow me to work with inspiring women like Linda Kirkpatrick who leads our market development team in North America and is the living definition of a “girl boss.” I also have the opportunity to work under Craig Vosburg, our president for North America, who has graciously invested time in my personal development, including giving me clear feedback throughout my time at Mastercard which has allowed me to continually improve and enhance my knowledge and skillset. Finding someone who will tell you how to be better and what your blind spots are even when you are achieving good results is such a gift. Saying this, if I had one person it is Eric Musselwhite, my first boss out of college at Capital One. He gave me the right foundation, teaching me critical things like good work ethic and integrity that have stayed with me throughout my career. I am grateful for that every day.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have so much more to do, but I think by empowering others to have the impact they want and sharing my stories and experiences in a genuine way so people I mentor can learn from both my successes and mistakes is what I focus on. I also lead Women’s Leadership Network (WLN), an internal resource group, activities within Mastercard to provide exposure to support up and coming women to thrive in our organization.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became EVP at Mastercard” and why. (Please share a story or example for each):

I don’t even need 5 things for this, I would say there is really just one. And it’s something that people actually did tell me and I wish I had listened. Balance is important: I took this role and wanted to be the best ever right away, but working around the clock only gets you so far. Being patient and resetting to an aggressive but more balanced plan will keep you happy and healthy. It will also allow you and your team to not only do what is right for the company, but establish the legacy to leave behind when it is time to move on to the next exciting adventure.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

I have two: one is from Winston Churchill that I tell my two sons often: “Success is not Final, Failure is not Fatal, It is the courage to continue that counts.” I was reminded of this quote after it was printed on the back of one of their sports team shirts. I started thinking what a great reminder for kids and my team. I think about the quote most when I have decisions to make without a clear answer.

The other is “Everything happens for a reason.” People love it or hate it, but my view is I have only so much control, and when good things happen I think about what I did to get the result and sometimes luck is part of it, but only part of it. When not so good things happen, I try to understand why. If I don’t understand it right away, I tell myself I will someday and that I have to trust in that. Every experience has something in it that you can learn from and reflect on; if you believe everything happens for a reason,” you’re forced to find it.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

There are so many, but right now I would probably pick Malala Yousafzai. She’s such an incredible force and I’d love to understand where her amazing strength at such a young age came from. Her mission is so critical and I’d also love to discuss with her how people like me can help her cause, raise awareness and drive the change we want and need right now.



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Authority Magazine is devoted to sharing in-depth interviews, featuring people who are authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech