PaymentsSource estimates that women represent only 30% of the workforce in the fintech industry. Through our Women in Payments interview series, Global Payments Integrated wants to share the unique experiences of women working in the payments industry.
Our newest interview is with Tiffany Nordgren, Director of Product Launch here at Global Payments Integrated.
We spoke with Tiffany about topics such as her career, women working in payments, and communicating in a technology-focused world. Read on for the insights she shared.
Hi, Tiffany. Welcome to our Women in Payments series. I'm excited to chat with you today, so let's get right into it. Why don't you tell us a little bit about your background and how you started out and what your role here is at Global Payments Integrated?
Sure. First of all, hello and thank you. I appreciate this opportunity. So a little bit about me: I was born in Las Vegas, went to high school in North Carolina. I lived overseas a few times. But despite all that, I mostly call Utah home. And I currently live in Salt Lake City. I'm married. I had two young boys that keep me very on my toes and active in a chaotic household, which is so fun. We love the outdoors and spending time together. We love to ski together and bike together. We've also instilled the travel bug in our kids, so we're really excited that the pandemic is starting to kind of lift. We've got exciting and hopeful plans for the summer.
So, yeah, about my role. Currently, the Director of Product Launch, a member of the product team, at Global Payments Integrated, and my team is responsible for the go to market strategies of our new product offerings, as well as ensuring operational, sales, organizational readiness as we prepare to launch new products. We work closely with many of our internal teams here at Global Payments Integrated: marketing, sales, support, many others. And really our goal is to achieve successful launches by driving new product adoption revenue.
And I actually just had my 10 year anniversary with Global Payments in April. I can't believe what a wild, fun ride it has been so far. My background is in marketing communications, product marketing and account management. I've been able to use all three at this job over the ten years and also I've probably done about equal parts over several different industries, including biotech, advertising, high tech, and then, of course, payments.
Well, that's wonderful, congratulations on the 10 year anniversary. That's really exciting. I'd love to dive into your role as Director of Product Launch a little bit. I know that marketing for payments can involve a lot of technical jargon. How did you kind of approach that when you first started out in this industry?
Good question. I never really thought of myself as a person who is technical or understands technology at a deeper level. But through this journey, somehow you just learn to start speaking SDKs and APIs and hardware kernels and the like, and then you're just in it. I think for me it's really starting at the basics.
Years ago I started at a company called Authorize Net, my first foray into payments, and I really knew nothing about the industry. And I just really started doing my own research, finding online journals, communities where I could learn more. Also talking to my peers - where were they getting their knowledge? Where were they continuing their payments education?
And then I was really fortunate to attend events, industry events, especially those put on by the Electronic Transactions Association. And in my first year of being in payments, I was able to take in-person classes through them called Payments 101, and it really gave me a strong, solid foundation to understand not just the technical jargon, but the payments jargon and who the players were and really what the industry entailed.
Payments definitely kind of has its own, very own language. Launching a new product or technology offering can definitely be kind of daunting. How do you approach a new launch?
It can be really overwhelming to take on a whole new product or technology offering and try to understand it at the level needed, to think about go to market strategies, write content, product positioning, even creating sales enablement materials. So I really begin with the basics. Once again, going back to the basics, I start with the product manager.
And even though my understanding is very rudimentary, I'll just start writing a communication. It may just be the opening paragraph, but if I can at least start having to explain what I've learned from a product manager, the basics, if I can just start putting that in writing and having to explain it, it really helps me to identify, okay, where do I need more information? Where do I have gaps in my knowledge, how can I really explain this to somebody else?
So I guess the advice I would have when feeling overwhelmed or intimidated on a new project is really just to do something, even if it's just the smallest detail. I can't tell you how many communications, how many PowerPoint presentations I have started in just that way, just starting somewhere. And then it kind of gets that momentum in motion. And then you start involving other team members and subject matter experts and it really starts to go from there and you can build on something.
I always say it's so much easier to edit something versus to write it. So even if I can just get a really rough draft started, then it's easier for others to jump in and kind of help guide where it's going to go and really build all of our knowledge.
And honestly, I never really thought this would be my path in life, but I have truly grown loving taking something very technical in nature and breaking it down into a story that anyone can understand. I find it very fulfilling, telling that product story, and it's really a lot of what the job is in the product communications world, it's crafting a compelling story around complex topics and then telling that story in a manner that anyone could understand.
So as far as being in the fintech space, I know technology is always rapidly advancing, changing constantly. What have you done to kind of stay ahead of that curve?
Well, definitely an industry that never slows down. It's just this pace of innovation and technology and mergers and acquisitions. It's quite the task to stay on top of it all. I do have a natural curiosity and I love working in technology, so I read a lot of industry news. I look at competitor websites and blogs. I try to see what others are talking about, you know kind of stay up on top of those buzz words, trends, hot topics, keeping up on what's coming next.
I think a lot of us have heard these terms for years, like cryptocurrency and blockchain, and it's really fun now to see real examples of how those technologies are going to be implemented today. So I think having a natural curiosity and see where these technologies can actually get implemented is really exciting.
You mentioned industry publications and blogs. Are there any in particular that you follow that might be of interest?
Absolutely, Pymnts.com and Digital Transactions are two great resources that I read on a weekly basis. I also follow some sites that just keep me up to date on fintech M&A, so I just know what's going on from that standpoint. I think it's interesting to see what companies are merging together and how companies are thinking of maybe putting together certain technologies, maybe you initially wouldn't think would go together. I think that kind of helps keep on top of that piece of technology as well. And then I'm a member of some product marketing communities. I'm always trying to ensure that I keep sharp on my specific discipline as well.
Wonderful. So in your role, you mentioned it's very much taking technical products and kind of translating that to general communications. What are some tips you might have for learning new technologies?
Well, first, I would say go to the experts. Talk to those who know the technology best and ask them to explain it to you as if you were explaining it to somebody in grade school with zero background in technology. Start there.
Secondly, I'm a very visual learner, so I would ask those subject matter experts to draw or diagram the technology. Being able to see something concrete really helps solidify my understanding.
And then finally, I think one of the biggest tips I would have is to share what you've learned with others. The quickest way to know if you really understand technology is if you can explain it to someone else. You'll see what questions you get, see where there are still gaps in your knowledge, see if you really understand it so that you could explain it to someone else.
That's a really great tip, I especially like that one, to try and explain it to someone else. So one of the reasons we started our Women in Payments interview series is because the statistics show that the payments industry is overwhelmingly male. So what has been your experience being a woman in a mostly male industry?
Not a loaded question at all. I have mostly worked in industries that are male dominated and being 14 years into payments now, although we still have a ways to go, I really celebrate the progress we have made with female leadership and I really look forward to continuing to grow that female representation.
And while I've had a variety of experiences over my entire professional career, I have been really fortunate in my decade at Global Payments to have strong leadership opportunities. And that's really a tribute to our culture here. I'm really grateful for the strong female leaders who supported me, given me great advice over the years, those friendships that I have built on mutual understanding and experiences. And I really hope that I can help mentor the next female leaders in our company.
And then as a small anecdote, I was once shamed in a workplace for wearing a T-shirt that had the slogan, "The Future is Female." And it was something I had worn on that day, on that specific day, to give me confidence while I was presenting in a situation that felt really intimidating to me. And I think maybe the message was misunderstood. And I think often that females showing confidence in the workplace can be misunderstood.
And the slogan was not about being better than someone or excluding anyone, it was about having confidence in myself and being able to reach the same heights as anyone else. Knowing that as a female, we have a future too, not to diminish anyone else's right to that same future. It's not about exclusivity. It's about including women in a culture that, quite frankly, hasn't always done so.
So I really feel strongly about empowering women to see themselves as equals in the workplace, understand their worth, speak with confidence. And maybe that's how you really become a strong female leader, is have the confidence to stand up for yourself and the passion to help the women around you as well.
Absolutely. So I know you mentioned earlier that you have two little ones. How have you, how do you strive for work-life balance as a working mom?
It's definitely a challenge, especially given the past year. I'm really trying to be present in the moment for my children and have conscious screen-free time with them. You know, working from home in some ways has definitely helped in gaining back the commute time.
But on the other hand, I think it makes it really easy to not have that stopping point from work. My kids would be happy to play on the Xbox for hours while I catch up on email or finish that PowerPoint. So I think consciously being in the moment when I'm working and then stopping and then being in the moment with my children is how I'm striving to find that balance.
Absolutely. What kind of tips might you have for someone just getting started in the payments industry?
Two things I think, really. To start in the industry now, which is such a great time to start in this industry, just so much going on. But first, try to stay really focused on the basics. Understand the players, understand the terminology, which, as we mentioned before, there's a lot of jargon in this industry, all the acronyms, and start just with the basics.
And then I think once you have that, secondly, just have this constant curiosity for where we're going next. If it's, if you have that solid foundation to start with, it's an easier path then to pick up on these trends and this piece of technology. And then just keep fanning the flames, that curiosity and read and discuss with your team members, talk about how the disruption is changing the payments ecosystem.
So you mentioned earlier communicating with confidence in the workplace, having women specifically learning to communicate with confidence. Do you have some tips for anyone wanting to learn to communicate with more confidence in the workplace?
Well, I'm not sure I'm an expert, but I can share what helped me. I actually speak with a very quick cadence, if you haven't noticed. So my first tip is really to slow it down. I like to think of, like, the FM DJ night voice, not that I could ever be a DJ, but thinking about that voice kind of helps me to slow down and focus, as well as remain calm, even and steady.
I've also lived by this rule my entire career, and that is, if you don't know the answer, don't pretend you do. I'll be the first to admit when I don't know the answer and when I can't confidently answer a question. And you bet I'll be hunting down that answer ASAP, but I'm not going to pretend I do.
I think another tip is when you're communicating is, to really make it about the person or the audience you're communicating to. Maybe take the focus away from myself, maybe the anxiety I'm feeling. I think about, how can I help the audience I'm communicating to understand the message I'm trying to deliver and how can I deliver that in a respectful, collaborative, even an empathetic way.
And then I think, if I'm thinking of written communication, personally, my rule is less is more. Be concise, be respectful, don't be afraid to get right to the point, because once you write too many paragraphs and people's eyes glaze over and your point's easily lost.
And in my career, I've been fortunate enough to not only have to do it in English, but years ago I lived in Singapore, I lived in Japan. I had to actually conduct a press conference in Japanese, which is very intimidating early in my career. I was extremely fortunate to have that experience.
But I think even when you think about communicating confidently, even in a language that's not your first language, keeping to those rules really helps. You know, slow it down. Don't give an answer, don't pretend you know an answer and really try to - how am I, instead of focusing on, oh are my language skills the best, or I'm anxious, really focusing on, hey, am I able to help deliver that message that can my audience understand it? Am I helping them? Because those rules apply in those situations.
Those are some really good tips, thank you for sharing those. So one more question, what would you say is your favorite thing about working in the payments industry?
There is never a dull moment in payments. You know, I was a former skydiver and a rock climber and I really thought I knew adventure. And I had no idea that being a working mom and working in payments would be like, the biggest adventure of all. Payments has challenged me like nothing else, like no other industry I've ever worked in.
It's also been the most fulfilling, but it's really pushed me past the limits of what I thought I could accomplish or what I was capable of. I think it's very empowering. Also, I just really love the community. It's very rewarding to work with some of the same individuals at different companies to make these strong, lasting friendships, attend events, run into people you've known for years and really keep those relationships.
I really think it's the perfect sized industry that allows so much opportunity for career growth while also offering still that tight knit community feeling. I think it's really special and I'm extremely grateful that the payments industry found me.
The payments industry is definitely, definitely unique. Well, thank you so much for speaking with me today about Women in Payments and communicating in a technology focused world. I really appreciate the time.
Thank you so much, Ashley, I appreciate the opportunity. It's been great speaking with you today.