We sat down with Nicola Palin-Willis, our VP UK Sales for Credorax. She shared with us some fascinating insights on general payments trends in 2016 and the challenge of balancing work and home life in such a demanding industry. Nicola’s no-nonsense approach to both is refreshing. It’s clear from the interview that her deep commitment to both her work and family is the “secret sauce” of her success.

What were the biggest developments in the payments industry in 2016, and how you responded?

The volume of electronic payments was growing substantially in 2016 and will continue flourishing over the next five years – driven largely by continued growth in digital commerce and increased electronic payments acceptance particularly in the SME market.

The payments landscape is undergoing a period of rapid, technology-driven change with continually evolving multi-channel commerce, big data analytics, enhanced loyalty programs, etc.  Business owners are already reeling from all the choices and complexities in understanding their payment processing needs. We’ve seen an increased need for transparency and a crystal-clear path in managing e-commerce initiatives.

Advancing technologies, such as cloud computing are lowering the barriers to entry for software firms seeking to provide merchant services. It is easier today to develop inexpensive payment solutions and to connect to third party systems than it was just five years ago. However, there can be a great cost in pursuing this route in terms of piloting the many obstacles a merchant may encounter.  Knowledge is power, especially in the wake of all the service choices and smart applications that will become available on the market.

Expect a continued influx of new products and applications into the payments market such as digital wallets, mobile payments, mPOS, virtual currencies, social payments, ApplePay, etc. and I believe small to medium sized merchants rely more on their payments provider than ever before.

What are the best initiatives available to help women advance their careers in the payments industry?

The best initiative is a simple one. Be true to yourself. The persona of a company is often determined from the top down.  So look to the leaders of a company to identify how they run the company and what atmosphere resonates within that company.  Be selective.  Once you’ve chosen your path, then foster an environment that is supportive and real.  Steer away from an “us” and “them” attitude within a team.  Envisage where you want to be and where you want to go and then try to build and develop the support infrastructure that is needed to make it happen.

Working life is undoubtedly important, not just for the income it provides to support oneself and a family, but equally it can define who you are.  However, it is not everything in life.  It is important to stay focused and keep work in perspective.  It makes for a better manager and a more effective leader by doing so.  Take the emotion out.  I think overall a good leader knows she has to stay positive no matter what is thrown at her.

I would also recommend participating in any event that provides the opportunity to network with peers and identify potential mentors – like the MRC Women in Business networking event for example. In addition, it might sound basic, but I don’t think women realize how powerful we can be. Most, if not all of us, are blessed with intuition and sound common sense and natural multi-tasking skills. If women on the whole were more confident in their abilities, more of us would fly in business.

What accomplishment are you most proud of outside of your job?

I am most proud of being a good mother! I have to be incredibly organized. Work life stays in one box; packed lunches and ironed school uniforms for the kids in another.  It’s not for the faint- hearted but it keeps me on my toes!  Happy children mean happy mum, which means a happy and productive team leader. In the words of my youngest, “My mummy is as old as a dinosaur but she is so cool, she is a vice potato!” How could that not keep me grounded?!

I guess a few other notable achievements would be obtaining my private pilot’s license during a lovely summer in my late twenties. I remember being so nervous on my first solo landing away that my instructor had to unlock my knees from the cockpit as I was paralyzed with fright! Also, when I passed my motorbike course first time and promptly went out and bought a Yamaha R6, despite my then instructor telling me I would be sure to fail and should “Go hug a tree instead!”

At the end of the day, life is what you make it and, whether at work or outside work, I try to make the most of it. Being able to laugh at yourself sometimes and having a healthy dose of self-belief helps, plus of course always conquering those inevitable demons along the way!

What was the proudest moment in your career?

There have been a few proud moments so far.  I have spent many years in this industry having started my career at Visa Europe, before moving to Standard Chartered Bank, American Express, CyberSource, back to Visa International and then Credorax!  Besides a short stint as project implementation manager at Visa, the rest of my career has been focused solely on business development/sales activity.  I won an ambassador award at American Express for being one of their top new business sales reps, selling corporate travel solutions to large merchants.

In addition to the Amex ambassador award, at CyberSource I achieved well over 120% target in a strategic account management role.  This was no mean feat since I managed over 10 of their top tier 1 merchants, successfully retaining all of them during my tenure which also included defending our position through several tough tender negotiations.

At Credorax, I found suitable premises for our UK office.  In addition, I have grown the UK portfolio significantly. We started with one strategic partner back in 2012/early 2013 and now we have more than 20 key partnerships live and delivering us scale and increased market share.

We want to thanks Nicola for this exciting conversation showing real people behind the Credorax brand!

If you would like to be in touch with Nicola, click here to reach her LinkedIn page.