'Leading in a Changing World' - Wnet interview ahead of the 2019 Wnet Leadership Summit

Thursday 24 October 2019 08:50 CET | Editor: Mirela Ciobanu | Interview

The Paypers interviews Linda S. Perry, a payments industry veteran and a Wnet founder, to discuss industry trends and ways of ‘Leading in a Changing World’, the theme of the Wnet Leadership Summit, November 6-7 in Atlanta.

You were just inducted into the ETA Hall of Fame and you have won numerous industry awards, including being named one of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments three years in a row. Could you please briefly explain the strengths and qualities that enabled you to win these honours and the biggest challenge you had to overcome? 

In the payments space, being influential is as much about driving business innovation as it is setting an example for others to follow in their professional careers. As I grew in my career, I was struck by how few female executives were in leadership or mentorship roles. While there were smart, ambitious women in the business, the number of women on boards and leading companies was quite low. In response to this void, I've had to look for ways to innovate on the business side while simultaneously creating new professional spaces where women in the industry could come together and position themselves for success.

I’ve spent nearly four decades in the payments industry. I spent most of my career as Visa's Senior Vice President and Head of Acquirer and Processor Sales for the US. There, I established and developed a department to manage Visa's relationships with its member-bank acquirers, third-party issuing, and acquiring processors, software vendors and independent sales organisations. As a Visa executive, I was very visible in the industry and considered myself an advocate for acquiring specifically. I also took the opportunity to speak at many industry events and curated and nurtured a large network around the world. Being an advocate for acquirers, ISOs, and third-party processors was not easy in the early '90s. While the brands and the banks were mostly interested in issuing, I was persistent, focused, and presented new ways to add value to the payments’ ecosystem.

Please tell us about your role at Wnet and your background in the payments industry. 

I am one of the four founders of Wnet and now I serve on its Board of Directors and mentor the Wnet Leadership Summit team. After retiring from Visa, I looked for ways to transform the industry. I co-created two international acquiring conferences in London with the Global Vision Group at a time when no one else was recognising that companies were multinational. In 2005, I worked with payments leaders including Diane (Faro) Vogt and Holli Targan to co-found the Women's Network in Electronic Transactions (Wnet) as a networking forum for women in the payments industry.

As a result, today Wnet members are part of the massive changes taking place in the industry. This year alone, 15 Wnet members were ETA Forty Under 40 program honourees; seven Wnet members are part of the Money20/20 Rise Up Academy - three as senior Rise Up Advisors, and four chosen as rising stars for the program; and four Wnet members were named the Most Influential Women in Payments by

What's one of the biggest opportunities or challenges the payments industry is facing right now? 

I think the changes, innovations, and the rate of change in payments are both opportunities and challenges. Trying to understand how all of this affects our jobs and lives is also difficult. My advice would be to embrace projects like real-time payments, AI, and blockchain to get in on the ground floor of change.

What are your thoughts on how Wnet and the industry can move the needle with regards to diversity and inclusion? 

One of the goals of Wnet is to help build leadership skills. For women and the men who advocate for them to succeed, they need those skills and we help develop them. We also created a network that introduces women (and some men now) to each other across company lines. My experience has been that having a robust network is critical to success in any business. Women need to build the skills and resumes and then be given a chance to take on leadership positions.

Now going back to the event's theme, ‘Leading in a Changing World’, what challenges do women face within the payments industry and what advice would you give to women who want to be a part of its success? What sessions are you planning to lead or participate in? 

The ongoing challenge appears to be our natural instinct to understate our experience and capabilities. We hear over and over from senior female leaders that they stepped up to roles that they were not exactly qualified for on paper, but they knew they could learn and succeed in those roles. Women should have confidence in themselves, and we hope more male leaders will see the potential of women and minorities and give them an equal chance to succeed. 

This year’s Summit theme, 'Leading in a Changing World' reflects the incredible impact that networking, mentoring and leadership growth opportunities have on women and the men who advocate for them throughout the payments industry. We anticipate nearly 300 women and men in payments to attend the Wnet Leadership Summit, held November 6-7 at the InterContinental Buckhead Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia - the nation’s payment hub.

The Summit will feature keynote presentations from some of the most successful leaders in payments, Osama Bedier of Poynt, Anu Shultes of Lend Up, and Colleen Taylor of Mastercard. McKinsey will present results of its annual Women in the Workplace 2019 study, the first report to include input from Wnet members at payments companies. Panels will include 'Card Brand Career Panel', 'Diversity Delivers', 'Embrace Disruption', 'Learn by Doing', 'Mix It Up with Special Guests' and 'Your Turn to Lead'.

We invite executives to join us at the Summit. Not only will you get exposure to senior executives across the payments and fintech industry, you’ll hear from savvy business leaders across the payments industry leading the way in the journey to improve the gender diversity within their companies and our industry.

About Linda Perry

Linda S. Perry is an award-winning banking and payments expert, a Wnet Co-founder and Board member. She served as Visa’s Senior Vice President and Head of Acquirer and Processor Sales (US), and held senior positions at Citicorp and Michigan National Bank. She served on ETA’s Board of Directors.

About the Women's Network in Electronic Transactions

Wnet is the premier professional organisation for women in payments, providing personal enrichment no matter what stage members are in their careers. Wnet provides world-class national and regional programming, fosters networking and promotes mentoring to help members achieve greater personal success, influence, and professional parity. Visit

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Keywords: Linda S. Perry, payments industry, Wnet Leadership Summit, women in payment
Categories: Payments & Commerce | Online Payments
Countries: United States
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce