CEO Series

What Keeps Chief Strategy Officers Up At Night

What separates a strategic blunder from a corporate breakthrough? Underestimating the potential of new ideas that look “different” yet force sweeping changes to the payments ecosystem. That, and other reflections on a day in the life of TNS EVP and Chief Strategy Officer Lisa Shipley can be found in the latest installment of PYMNTS’ Commanders in Chief Series.

What separates a strategic blunder from a corporate breakthrough? Underestimating the potential of new ideas that look “different” yet force sweeping changes to the payments ecosystem. That, and other reflections on a day in the life of TNS EVP and Chief Strategy Officer Lisa Shipley can be found in the latest installment of PYMNTS’ Commanders in Chief Series.

Shipley gives us an inside look into how she strives to keep TNS ahead of the game.

PYMNTS: What does a day in the life of a Chief Strategy Officer look like?

LS: I wear many hats at TNS. In addition to setting the strategy for our global payments organization, I’m responsible for managing the day-to-day business, which includes maintaining close relationships with our customers, and the TNS team that supports Product, Operations, Sales, Marketing and Human Resources, which are spread out over 15 countries across the globe.

And that means that I actually spend a lot of time 35,000 feet up in the air! The reason for this is that I travel extensively to ensure I’m well connected with our customers and our employees around the world. I place a lot of importance on meeting customers, spending time with them to understand their needs and market perspectives, as well as listening to feedback from our employees who work so diligently on delivering our solutions.

PYMNTS: What is the most difficult part of your job and why?

LS: The most difficult part of my role is ensuring we stay ahead of the key changes taking place in the industry. It is essential that we are able to recognize how to reposition TNS to take advantage of the rapid advances in technology and consumer behavior, which are happening all around us. Staying ahead of the curve is critical, as is understanding how market and technology changes can be leveraged to bring value to our customers as they are ultimately the ones most often impacted by these challenges.

PYMNTS: What do you wish you had more time to do?

LS: In the perfect world, I would be able to touch more customers. TNS prides itself on providing somewhat of a consultative role with our customers. To touch all the customers we need to, I depend heavily on my CEO and country leads to help with this effort. We have thousands of customers to touch. We gain so much insight from visiting our customers and the knowledge they share with us. We do our best to capture this information and apply this to our strategies and services we provide. I can attend all the conferences there are across the globe to gain knowledge, but nothing replaces what I learn from our customers directly.

I think I’m still a bit “old fashioned” in believing that sales and maintaining good customers is still relationship based. People do business with people they like and people they trust. To gain this trust and to maintain good customers requires face-to-face interaction as often as possible.

PYMNTS: What is the most important strategic consideration for CSOs in payments and commerce today and why?

LS: In the current climate you must never lose sight of technology. This is advancing at a rapid rate and is being driven aggressively by a number of influencers, including new market entrants, established players and consumers themselves. It is important to have the foresight to know what technological changes are heading your way, especially those with the potential to completely change the face of payments. Once you have this you must apply it to your situation to understand how you are going to position your company and your value proposition to embrace those changes. With change comes opportunity. Understand how changes will impact the payments landscape and develop plans that take advantage of that change well in advance of it happening.

PYMNTS: Strategy is only as good as its execution. What do you do in order to ensure that your ideas don’t collect dust on the virtual bookshelves of executive management?

LS: My secret weapon is Think Tanks. These are set up as very small teams, perhaps just 2 or 3 people in some cases, who are empowered with a suitable amount of time and resources to development new strategies. I challenge these Think Tanks to look at the “outer edges” of our business, beyond the core of our business today where greatest potential is hidden. Once deployed, these elite groups must think about growth in exponential terms. They are tasked to create plans and strategies that will enable TNS to grow by 10 X, not 10 percent. Once complete, these Think Tanks return and are responsible for driving the execution of the strategy with the support of myself and other top-level management.

I spoke about the challenges of technological change earlier, but this also presents a significant number of opportunities. So many things are now possible, but you can chase rainbows all day long so it is essential that you identify the few people with the skills and dedication to execute on change and who are capable to drive the solutions to the market in record speed.

PYMNTS: What is the biggest strategic blunder you’ve observed over the years and what would you have done if you were in charge?

LS: I’m not sure I would use the term “blunder,” but I believe the industry in general underestimated the effect of startups as well as the impact of the technology shift that is apparent today and which we will more aggressively be faced with in the future.

Square is a good example. We underestimated the power they would wield and their ability to change the face of payments in the micro merchant category. Other startups, such as Uber, have used technology to catapult themselves into a market leading position in an inexplicably short timeframe. Consumers are driving the new solutions in the market and market disruptors are capitalizing on delivering these solutions where as in the past these were solutions that were solely controlled by the banks, processors, etc. There is a whole new setup and players in payments as well as the traditional players need to figure out where they fit and how they will remain relevant in the space.

PYMNTS: What is the most strategic decision you’ve made today?

LS: Making the decision to attend Singularity University in Silicon Valley has benefited both me and TNS greatly. For those of you who have not come across this organization before, this “university” brings the brightest of the bright together in Silicon Valley to speak to people from around the world in order to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges. The in-depth view of how technology will affect the future of all businesses in the near future will help you develop a long-term strategy within your own organizations. How does this relate to payments? Exponentially!

The Singularity experience helped me to think differently and with a new sense of urgency. It gave me the foundation to understand what technology changes are coming and how to position TNS to capitalize on those changes. We will execute strategies for TNS in the future based on this new methodology and this change will position us for even greater success in 2016 and beyond.

Lisa Shipley

Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Payment Network Solutions of Transaction Network Services

Lisa Shipley joined Transaction Network Services (TNS) in 2013 and is the Executive Vice President and Managing Director of its Payment Network Solutions business.

In her role, Lisa oversees a global team which provides services to customers across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific regions. Lisa has responsibility for sales, product, development and operations, as well as designing and executing the company’s Payment Network Solutions strategy.

A seasoned industry professional, Lisa has more than 25 years of experience and, in addition to her role at TNS, is the President of W-Net, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of women into senior positions in the payments industry.

Prior to joining TNS, Lisa was Senior Vice President of Enterprise Accounts at the First Data Corporation. As part of this role, Lisa managed the company’s Money Network business and its alternative payment provider customers.

Lisa joined First Data from Ingenico where she served as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing and, prior to that, she held the same position at Hypercom North America for 12 years. Lisa also spent 10 years with NationsBank where she was responsible for its terminal management business.


To get a glimpse into the minds of other C-suite players and get a sense of their roles, click here.



The PYMNTS Cross-Border Merchant Friction Index analyzes the key friction points experienced by consumers browsing, shopping and paying for purchases on international eCommerce sites. PYMNTS examined the checkout processes of 266 B2B and B2C eCommerce sites across 12 industries and operating from locations across Europe and the United States to provide a comprehensive overview of their checkout offerings.

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