Wnet Interview - 'A woman's potential is as unlimited as her ambition'

Tuesday 24 March 2020 08:45 CET | Editor: Mirela Ciobanu | Interview

The Paypers sat with the Women’s Network in Electronic Transactions (Wnet) President, Joan Herbig, to discuss the meaning of leadership in today’s digital economy and the role women play in shaping this space

As the new president of Wnet, how will your professional background further the association’s objectives?

I’m honoured for this opportunity to serve Wnet in its mission to increase the leadership opportunities for women and their male advocates in the payments industry. Wnet envisions a world where a woman’s potential is as unlimited as her ambition. Being a member of Wnet gives women exclusive access to a network of like-minded peers who inspire each other to achieve their career goals as they advance in the payments industry.   

I am fortunate to have worked from ‘bottom-to-top’ of the corporate world, starting in customer support, moving into management, and graduating to CEO at three companies. It was an honour to become one of the early female CEOs in the technology world. This experience has served me well in providing guidance back to the Wnet Board of Directors around how our education, membership and Leadership Summit initiatives can serve members at every stage of their career. I also serve on the ControlScan Board of Directors, where I was CEO for ten years. I am retired, so I am looking forward to focusing on Wnet programs and community.

Was there a particular experience that helped you achieve executive success?

Winning the ‘Woman of the Year in Technology’ award in 2001 from an organisation in Atlanta called Women in Technology, was pivotal for me. It gave me the confidence I needed to advance in my career, become a CEO, and learn how to be successful in that role. Wnet aims to give women similar feelings of empowerment.

Saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity, and not overthinking it, has also served me well. I believe that we need to take risks and step outside our comfort zones.

What could be done to mentor and motivate women working in payments in the high-tech industry?

It’s important to us that our partnerships help us bring insights into Wnet. We partner with Money 20/20 on Rise Up events, and we’ve partnered with ETA, European Women Payments Network (EWPN), McKinsey, and others to bring the global perspective to bear.

For example, Wnet has extended our member benefits to women around the globe, in partnership with EWPN leadership to accomplish that goal.  We believe that sharing our insights, knowledge, and experience will make our members stronger and is another effort to bring about positive change across the global payments’ ecosystem.

Our efforts in 2020 will continue to focus on ongoing member value. Mentoring is especially important. I’ve had some great mentors – women and men. One thing I have learned is that you can’t do this alone, so helping other women is really important to me.

For instance, Money20/20 and Wnet expanded partnership on Rise Up, Money20/20’s annual accelerator program, designed to empower female leaders and help them take their careers to the next level. This unique alumni network helps put participants through a continued growth track, providing mentorship opportunities to not only build on their skills and networks but to raise awareness on the power of diversity and inclusivity as well.

According to the McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org’s annual Women in the Workplace study, women have made a lot of progress rising to the top over the last five years – but there’s still underrepresentation. How can technology companies encourage emerging female stars in this field to be leaders?

It’s very challenging to find women in pure technology roles. I serve on the advisory board for the computer science department at the University of Kentucky. The percentage of women is hovering around 17 percent and has been that way for many years. This is true not just in Kentucky, but nationwide.

Through a joint effort with McKinsey, Wnet recently served as an industry champion to help convene the payments community in joining the 2019 McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org Women in the Workplace research.  Wnet invited members across payments companies to participate in the annual study to help companies build an understanding of how to improve gender equality in the payments industry.

One of the findings of the research revealed that women are having trouble taking the first step into a management role. For Wnet, this means that we have mentors, advisors and advocates to help women who are in the early stages of their careers.  Given that engaging professionally can open an array of opportunities, supporting the related advancement of women is a worthy endeavour!

Wnet members can get the results of the latest research through our webinars and assess how the payments industry compares to other industries in key areas related to the hiring, advancement, and experiences of women. This information is valuable for planning individual career goals and moves. Wnet also aims to empower organisations to advance women in new ways.

What issues will get special emphasis in 2020 and why?

Extensive growth in 2019 has transformed Wnet into a new, geographically diverse hub for leaders to collaborate easily and be a part of something bigger. Wnet has strengthened our commitment to local and national events by providing more networking opportunities, with informational and educational programming. Our chapters across the US meet regularly, and we have networking events at key payments and fintech conferences. Our partnership with EWPN enables their members to attend the Wnet Summit and our members to attend their annual conference.

Wnet is also helping more organisations and women in financial services and fintech to be aware of the programming, networking, tools, and Leadership Summit available to help guide members to leadership and executive positions. Through corporate sponsorship, companies and organisations demonstrate the commitment to their female employees to advance women in the payments industry. Sponsor contributions support our creation of inspiring and educational programming.

For example, our new Pinnacle Sponsorship is designed for companies that already have women’s organisations within their companies. By partnering with Wnet, they can augment their resources. The sponsorship enables them to network with other Wnet member companies, learn more about what organisations are doing to advance women, and share best practices. By collaborating with them to develop stronger programs internally, Wnet also gains insight into ways to evolve its own programming and evolve how our programming meets new leadership challenges.

We are especially excited about the 2020 Wnet Leadership Summit, which will be our largest event of the year. Hundreds of leaders — including rising stars, senior executives, and male advocates from across the payments and fintech industry -- will meet to discuss domestic and global leadership trends. Attendees will have the opportunity to network with some of the most successful executive leaders, both women and men, in the payments and fintech industries. Speakers will share experiences and advice specifically designed to help attendees’ professional development, regardless of where they are on in their careers. We encourage everyone to save the date for the Wnet Leadership Summit in Atlanta, September 30 to October 1, 2020.

About Joan Herbig

Joan E. Herbig has over 25 years’ experience in the high-tech industry. She currently serves as the Wnet President and on the Board of Directors for ControlScan, where she served as CEO from late 2007 to May 2017, when the company was acquired.


About Wnet

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: wnet, women in payments, EWPN, fintech, technology, Women’s Network in Electronic Transactions, Joan Herbig, digital economy, gender gap, US
Categories: Banking & Fintech
Countries: United States
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