​Are You Ready For A C-Suite Role In Payments?

01 June 2022


What attributes do you need to secure a C-suite role in Payments? Read our blog post exploring the skills you’ll need to win the top jobs in the industry.

If you’re in a leadership role in the Payments industry, the next step up the career ladder could be a C-suite role. Whether it’s CEO, COO, CMO, CTO or other executive management position, for many people this will be the pinnacle of their Payments career.

But although it might be the logical career progression, with all the prestige and financial reward a C-suite role provides, is this really what you want?

Of course, we don’t want to discourage you from dreaming big! However, there’s fierce competition for C-suite positions in Payments so it’s all the more important that you’re ready to take on the role.

In this article we explore the key attributes that successful C-suite executives possess, to help you decide whether now’s the right time to step up to the challenge.

7 Winning Attributes C-Suite Execs Need In Payments

1. Strategic thinker

However much you may think your current Payments role is about strategic thinking, it’s likely that your day-to-day focus is more tactical. Senior roles, below C-suite, are often more about translating the business’ strategic goals into tactical activities.

Here’s an interesting analogy: Tactical thinking is like walking - your focus is on the ground in front of you to make progress and avoid any obstacles. Whereas strategic thinking is like flying. Seeing the big picture: where you’ve come from, where you are, and where you’re going.

Are you ready to step away from the detail and leave that for other team members to work out? If you want a C-suite position your focus needs to be on the big picture, applying the company’s mission and vision to your area of responsibility.

2. Team builder

You’ve probably already had some great experience building a winning team in your current Payments role. The difference for the C-suite exec is that they need to build interdepartmental teams that win big together.

This means taking a step back and letting senior managers do their job of building and managing their individual teams. Supporting them and accepting that they might do things differently to you.

Unlike when you head up an individual team, the C-suite exec doesn’t get the praise and recognition the team leads do. You’re the one that needs to celebrate their successes and encourage them and their teams to strive for more.

3. Passionate

Your passion and enthusiasm for the Payments industry is what will inspire the people around you. You’ll need lots of it - passion - to communicate the company’s vision, get the support of your teams and achieve the strategic goals you initiate.

Passion for Payments, the company and your role is also what will see you through the more challenging times. As identified above, a C-suite exec can’t expect regular pats on the back, it’s part of your job to dole these out, and often you’ll be dealing with the more unpleasant aspects of running a company.

Whether it’s shareholders chasing you about company performance, or team leaders wanting more resources when no budget is available, your passion is what will help you navigate difficult situations and events.

4. Entrepreneurial

Payments is full of entrepreneurs. As a relatively young industry many C-suite professionals are founders or have come from startups and entrepreneurial backgrounds.

Being able to spot opportunities, being an innovator and forward-thinking are highly desirable qualities to have at C-suite whatever role you’re interested in. This is what helps companies innovate and differentiate in the market and manage change when external or internal factors impact BAU.

5. Customer-centric

Ultimately the success of any Payments company lies in the hands of its customers or fanbase. A challenge for some senior leaders is that as you progress up the career ladder you may find yourself becoming more removed from your customers.

For example, the Marketing Exec talks to focus groups about your products and brand, whereas the Marketing Director focuses on implementing the overall marketing strategy. The Customer Service Advisor deals day-to-day with your online customers, while the Head of Customer Support often only speaks to customers when a serious problem has been escalated to them.

Keeping that customer focus, rather than becoming too inward looking, is really important at C-suite. If you’ve become a bit distant from your company’s customers, look for ways to get more regular contact to build a deeper understanding of your customers.

6. Empathetic and humble

According to Edelman “empathy” and “humility” are some of the most sought after characteristics for C-suite Payments roles. Edelman in their PR Insights report suggests that "Demonstrating empathy and humility in C-level communications will also increase the emotional connection consumers feel with these brands – and will help create and retain trust for the long-term."

Empathy and humility, which are sometimes viewed as signs of weakness, brings people together and helps to build a strong culture. A survey by Catalyst found that 76% of employees with highly empathic senior leaders are often or always engaged, and 61% of people surveyed with empathic leaders report being innovative at work.

7. Winning mentality

One of the common characteristics of successful leaders in Payments is their winning mentality. Perhaps it’s all that time spent in an industry obsessed with big winners and winning big!

There are lots of parallels between successful C-suite execs and professional sportspeople. That winning mentality of always pursuing improvement, whether it’s big or small gains, and also giving themselves credit where credit’s due.

Simply celebrating your wins everyday can help build that winning mentality. As well as setting yourself a goal for improvement, big or small, to achieve tomorrow.

Next Steps For A C-Suite Role In Payments

So, are you ready to take that next step in your Payments career and go for that C-suite role? If you share the attributes described above, it’s time to start positioning yourself as a C-suite candidate.

We’ll be sharing how to do this in a future blog post, but in the meantime if you’re looking for a new Payments role why not register with Headcount Recruitment today?

To learn more about how to hit the big time in your Payments career, read our career guide exploring tried-and-tested strategies for success.