The payments community was saddened by the tragic news last week that American Express President, Ed Gilligan died unexpectedly after becoming ill on a flight home. Gilligan had been with the company for decades, having started his career there as an intern 35 years ago, and rising to become Vice Chairman in 2007 and President in 2013.
In the statement announcing Gilligan’s death, Amex CEO and Chairman Ken Chenault said Gilligan left “an indelible imprint on practically every area of our business, from commercial card and travel to international, consumer, small business, merchant services, network services, and, most recently, the group forging our digital partnerships and driving payment innovations.”
Gilligan’s sudden passing leaves the company without a clear successor to Chenault.
“Ed also loved American Express. He devoted his entire career to this company, starting as an intern 35 years ago and moving steadily up all the way to Vice Chairman in 2007 and President in 2013,” Chenault added. “Ed was a living embodiment of our values, embracing both our heritage of service, trust and integrity, as well as our entrepreneurial spirit that has helped continually transform this company through the years. For the time being, I have asked Ed’s direct leaders to report to me.”
“The mark of a true leader is followership, and Ed won the hearts and minds of many thousands. We mourn his loss, and we will have opportunities to share our memories of him more fully in the coming days.”
Some of those memories are captured here. PYMNTS reached out to a few executives across the payments ecosystem who knew him well to share their thoughts and pay tribute to him. Clearly, the payments ecosystem is richer for the contributions he made to it. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his colleagues at American Express.
Ajay Banga | MasterCard CEO
“We offer our most heartfelt sympathies to Ed Gilligan’s family and the entire American Express organization. In his 35 year career at American Express, Ed not only played a major role in the success of that company, he also helped to transform the payments business into what it is today.”
Dan Schulman | CEO PayPal
“I was fortunate to have worked with Ed during my tenure at American Express. He was a thoughtful partner and tremendously respected leader throughout the Blue Box; someone who was approachable and always generous with his time and his insights. He cared dearly about the success of others and about his friends. Ed’s style, I believe, was forged in large part by his journey at Amex and his appreciation for its values, and for how challenging it can be to succeed in a constantly changing business environment. Ed helped me to be the best I could be. What I remember most about Ed, however, was his passion and his infectious enthusiasm, not simply for the company and its customers, but especially for his family and friends.”
Hayden Reed | Senior Vice President and General Manager of Digital River World Payments
“Ed led advances in the payments industry that have enabled a more frictionless commerce experience for consumers and merchants alike. His leadership and contributions in the payments field will be greatly missed.”
Guy Chiarello | President of First Data and Frank Bisignano| CEO of First Data
“Over his 35 years at Amex, Ed helped to influence, innovate and improve our industry from bottom to top, with a journey from intern to president that qualifies as a true American success story! We knew him as a great collaborator, a great competitor, and most importantly a great person, and his loss leaves us all greatly saddened.”
Al Kelly | Visa Board Member and Former President, American Express
“I worked with Ed for over two decades and he certainly had a very long list of great accomplishments and he had tremendous impact on American Express. That said, I will remember Ed for his commitment to his family. There was no subject that brought a bigger smile to his face than his family. His love of Lisa and his four children was immeasurable. The business world has lost a terrific executive but the world has lost an even better husband and father.”
Jud Linville | Chief Executive Officer, Citi Cards
“Ed cared for clients, and the relationship with those clients, like few we have ever seen. But beyond that, he was willing to challenge convention….to challenge what else might be possible. He did that for clients, and for colleagues, wherever he went.”