Corner Office Conversations with Patty Watson

Change has been constant for Patricia A. Watson ever since she joined TSYS more than two years ago as chief information officer. The CIO talks gender equality, competition, change management and more.

Corner Office Conversations with Patty Watson

Corner Office Conversations with Patty Watson

John Carroll

John Carroll

John Carroll is a writer and editor at TSYS who follows and writes about the payments industry. He has more than 20 years of experience writing and editing content for various news, marketing and technical channels.

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Change has been constant for Patricia A. Watson ever since she joined TSYS more than two years ago as chief information officer. Charged with transforming the technology organization at TSYS, Watson has overseen significant changes in technology, processes and tools for payments innovation.

A 10-year Air Force veteran and former Bank of America technology executive, Watson has brought disruption to TSYS through a digital, cloud-based organization under her guidance and leadership.

Recently, Watson sat down with ngenuity staff writer John Carroll to discuss a range of topics on her radar, including competition, change management and challenges that keep her up at night.

Here are five highlights from the conversation.

01 on gender equality

As a highly visible female executive who challenges the proverbial glass ceiling, Watson acknowledged the importance of mentorship.

"As more women seek and attain leadership roles, they need to become advocates for other women and help them achieve their goals," says Watson. "Successful women need to remember that they are — and have to be — role models to help lift the status of women overall. This 'work in progress' is the best model to establish a workplace with more gender equality."

For somebody in a situation where they are experiencing gender bias, she has some pointed advice. "Consider finding a company that values your opinion and expertise. There are many companies that value and appreciate the insights that women bring to the boardroom and afford females a working culture without bias," she says.

"Successful women need to remember that they are — and have to be — role models to help lift the status of women overall. This 'work in progress' is the best model to establish  a workplace with more

02 on the technology that excites her

One area of payments that excites Watson personally is biometric authentication. As this form of facial and retina recognition technology continues to change the payments landscape, Watson says she’ll be following closely and capitalizing on the innovation in her own role.

"This is a real focus of innovation. Traditional means of using passwords and challenge questions are diminishing," says Watson. "Now we're moving beyond those things to facial recognition or retina ID."

She's also keeping close tabs on the most cutting-edge uses for big data and machine learning. "Having the resources to analyze large amounts of data helps us enhance the customer experience, making the payments process easier for the end card user as well as issuers," says Watson.

03 on outlasting the competition

"I think the biggest challenge to any company in the payments industry, including ours, is that there are always competitors on our heels," says Watson. She underscores the perfect mix of people, processes and technology as the secret ingredients for success in tackling threats in a rapidly changing payments space.

"You need the right people in the right roles. You need the right processes to get things to market faster. And, of course, the right technology helps support the execution of it all," says Watson.

04 on effective change management

On your journey to disrupt the status quo, don't forget everyone who's along for the ride, says Watson. "It's important to take people along with you as you strive to achieve progress," she says. "I have a bias for action, so I often remind myself to slow down, communicate thoroughly and make sure everyone is on board with a project before the train leaves the station. For me, the biggest thing is making people feel like their voices are being heard and their viewpoints matter."

05 on the challenges that keep her up at night

Watson says two major IT challenges include training the best talent and protecting client data.

"We put so much effort into technology training because there are technology skill sets that we need for the future," says Watson. "Technology is changing at a rapid pace. If you just know what you know today, and you're not learning something new, you’ll get left behind."

Another top priority and challenge for Watson is keeping customer data safe secure. "Our job is never done in information security. Because something new will happen tomorrow."

Patty Watson

Patricia Watson is senior executive vice president and chief information officer for TSYS, responsible for setting the enterprise technology agenda to enable and deliver future global growth for the company.

Watson came to TSYS with more than 17 years of experience in the financial services industry, serving in a variety of technology-related roles. Most recently she has served as vice president and global chief information officer for The Brinks Company, based in Coppell, Texas. Prior to joining Brinks, Watson worked with Bank of America for more than 14 years in a number of technology positions with increasing responsibility, including the role of senior technology executive for the bank's Treasury, Payments and Credit area.

Patty was selected as one of 2018's Most Influential Women in Payments by Payments Source.

The statements and opinions of the writer do not necessarily reflect those of TSYS.

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John Carroll

John Carroll is a writer and editor at TSYS who follows and writes about the payments industry. He has more than 20 years of experience writing and editing content for various news, marketing and technical channels. His articles have published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, the Daily Report and Georgia Trend.

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