Q&A with Wnet Board of Advisor Beth Deck
Q&A with Wnet Board of Advisor Beth Deck
Netspend’s Senior Vice President of Accounting and Finance
Newly appointed to the Board of Advisors, Beth Deck has been heavily involved in Wnet’s advisory, education, membership, and local event initiatives for several years. She also helps lead Wnet’s Austin Chapter.
In the Q&A below, Wnet talks with Beth about how her industry skill set and understanding of Wnet as an organization has positioned the organization for growth. Beth also reveals her insights on what the future holds for Wnet and the payments industry.
Q: Please tell us about what it means to be on the Wnet Board of Advisors, what you do at Netspend and your background in the payments industry?
A: My goal as an advisor to the Wnet board, both historically and now, continues to be the sustainability of the organization, and scalability. How do we scale up and grow with the industry?
In 2008, I joined Austin-based Netspend as an assistant controller, and it was my first experience in the payments industry. As I looked for ways to grow my network, there were several professional women's organizations, but none of them focused on the payments industry. So, when I first started on the Wnet Board of Advisors, I was focused on building out Wnet’s Austin Chapter.
Since then, I've been blessed to grow my career over more than a decade at Netspend. In 2013, Netspend was acquired by Total System Services (TSYS). The merger benefitted my career, and I've been thrilled to help grow Netspend, the Consumer Solutions segment of TSYS. Today, I oversee the finance and accounting team, which includes all aspects of historical financial reporting, forecasting, and budgeting as well as serving on our segment’s Executive Leadership Team.
Q: Tell us about your journey to becoming an active participant in the organization?
A: Most people look at their career every five or ten years and question if they are in the right place at the time. It's normal to wonder, "Am I in the right place? Am I doing the right thing for career progression? Am I happy in what I'm doing? Is there meaning for what I'm doing?"
I was doing that sort of soul searching, and I realized that because Netspend was my first gig in the payments space, that while I have a strong finance and accounting network, I had a very little external network in payments.
I happened to talk to Theresa Gongora (Wnet’s Past-President, 2018), who at the time was part of corporate strategy for TSYS. She introduced me to the Wnet organization, and I haven't looked back. It seemed like a fantastic way to learn about other women in the industry, see what different roles look like, what different companies do, and gain experience in working with other women.
Q: As you look across that ecosystem, and even with segments of the acquiring side, who else do you think in the payments community would benefit from the advantages of being a Wnet member?
A: One of the things I am passionate about is mentoring. Wnet provides an opportunity to have meaningful mentoring relationships in whatever stage of career you're at now. If you're early in your career, you can talk to women who may have more experience and get advice about what to do. If you're later in your career, sometimes those positions are lonely. If you're the only woman at the table all the time, sometimes it's nice to reach out and talk to another woman about their experiences. Frankly, anyone at any stage in their career in the payments industry could benefit from Wnet.
Q: Regarding the growth of the Austin Chapter, what do you see as the sort of success factors in the current growth that you're experiencing?
A: For me, the ultimate measure of success will be when the next person that steps into my role can expand upon it, both as a leader of the Austin Chapter and as an executive advisor to the Wnet board. That would be a great measure of success to see the Chapter excel without me driving it. Similarly, on what Wnet Chapters can be in particular, I think it's hitting the right balance of being inclusive and having thoughts around the sustainability of leadership as the Wnet Chapters evolve. It is imperative that chapters build out their network in addition to being part of the Wnet organization as a whole. It’s a balance between bringing in payment specific topics and women’s career growth and leadership topics. For example, our Wnet Austin Social events have allowed us to connect with local leaders and emerging leaders in the Austin area. All the Wnet Chapter events are available in the online event calendar here for those interested in attending.
Q: What are your thoughts on how Wnet and the industry can move the needle with regards to diversity and inclusion?
A: We need to continue to push leaders and the companies in our industry to be able to talk about these challenges, especially if they are uncomfortable topics. Generally, the challenges around diversity and inclusiveness in our industry are not going to solve themselves, or we would have seen a resolution already.
Often research on why women leave careers will reveal that it is not a single bad boss or a single bad experience. It's the progressive feeling of being alone and not being able to succeed. Wnet as an organization is deliberately inclusive, with programming designed to mentor other women and to help solve the problem of feeling alone within your career. Wnet helps people feel like they are not the only ones fighting the daily battles at work and gives members the resilience and skills to deal with those situations. I'm excited to see that we are moving to continue to focus on the Austin Chapter and local events, making those sustainable, branching out with more webinars and facilitating mentoring relationships, and the Wnet Leadership Summit, our annual conference, are all opportunities that Wnet reaches out to women that I find powerful.
Q: What’s one of the biggest opportunities or challenges the payments industry is facing right now?
A: One of the big challenges our industry faces, both for those folks who work in the industry as well as the consumers that we serve, is financial inclusion and access to financial services. I think from an industry perspective, designing products and services in a way that is financially inclusive to all consumers is important, especially as financial institutions continue to close brick and mortar locations. Access and inclusion are certainly near and dear to our hearts at Netspend. We were founded 20 years ago with a mission of financial inclusion and empowering U.S. consumers, including the un- and under-banked, to help them better manage their daily financial lives.
In addition, when you look at the boards and management teams of many of the companies in our industry, there's a lot of room for more diversity. Organizations like Wnet can help companies tackle this problem by helping organizations figure out how to bring inclusivity into their teams.
Q: We have engaged and invited men to participate in Wnet as advocates for our mission and vision. Industry reports indicate that male managers are now uncomfortable mentoring junior-level female employees and colleagues. What’s been your experience?
A: Three of the men that I work with are advocates already. In my experience generally, people, men included, want to help other people in their careers. These men were all individually helpful to me in my own career, so it was easy to say, "Hey, you've been so helpful to me. Would you feel comfortable in helping other women or women as a whole?" The answer in all cases was yes.
I think to be candid; careers are made with other people. Very few people stay an individual contributor throughout the entire scope of their career; much less have a successful career working only as an individual contributor. My advice to any woman in any career is to make connections and find an advocate or mentor in the workplace.
Making the connection and being the connection makes your work meaningful; it makes you happier. You can learn so much more with other folks, whether you're an introvert or an extrovert. Connect with your workplace and industry communities. Networking events, like our Summit and our chapter meetings, and mentor programs and webinars all serve to empower women, encourage inclusivity, and help men become important advocates for women all across the payments industry. Making connections cultivates exceptional leadership. I am looking forward to working with the Wnet Board and alongside my fellow members to enhance Wnet’s contributions within our community and across the payments industry as a whole.