Shifting consumer preferences and technological innovations have made digital the new path for commerce, but the move to online would go nowhere if not for the ability of customers to complete secure financial transactions with sellers. With nearly 15 years in the industry, Michelle Vautier has played a pivotal role in the growth of online payments, establishing or improving systems for companies such as Mastercard, UPS (Latin America), Netflix, Facebook and, most recenty, dLocal. Vautier shared with Inc. some of the top success insights she's gained over her career.
1. Take the time to observe others around you.
Vautier gave herself solid footing in her industry by working hard for the right credentials, earning a degree in International Business from Hawaii Pacific University and an MBA in Marketing from Florida International University. But keeping her eyes open has taught her valuable soft skills she didn't learn in the classroom.
"I learned most of what I know and what made me the person I am today by observing the people around me," she asserts. "I've learned an incredible amount, not only about payments, but about managing and understanding people, from all walks of life, including my Uber drivers in foreign countries and my servers at restaurants."
2. Be mentally prepared for and defend your uniqueness.
Despite improvements, technology is still an industry where the majority of workers are men. That's meant that, as a woman, Vautier has had to dig her heels into the ground to establish herself.
"Often times, I'm the only woman in the room in every business setting. Whether it's investor meetings or board meetings or client meetings, it's rare that I'm not surrounded by men in suits, and it's something I have to combat mentally and have the confidence in myself to know that I'm supposed to be there."
3. Lean into the truth, even when others assume.
While working at Facebook, Vautier helped develop Facebook Payments. Even though one of Vautier's male colleagues didn't step forward purposely to take credit for that development, others in the industry assumed that that colleague was the one to laud based on timing of events. Rather than let this circumstance take the wind out of her sails, Vautier believed in the reality of her talent and let it continue to speak for her. She has been able to solidify her position as Silicon Valley's payment-go-to person because of that continued confidence and perseverance. As long as you know what really happened or what you can do, don't be deterred. Others eventually have to acknowledge you if you refuse to back down and consistently show up.
4. Speak up about what you achieve.
Having her industry credit someone else with her Facebook work showed Vautier how easily misconception can take hold and be perceived as fact. That's made her more willing to speak for herself. "At that time," she says, "I was not vocal about my work. I am very proud and confident in my work and now make sure to express my accomplishments."
5. Never stop learning.
Like any good expert, Vautier understands there's always more experience and knowledge to get at that can help her. "I think it's important to always be attentive and wake up each day realizing you have more to learn, and consider every opportunity and encounter as a chance to better understand people and the world. I am also very open in connecting and helping my colleagues across the industry. [Not] all challenges are black and white, and it's great to brainstorm with others and get different perspectives."
6. Work with clear, unfaltering goals.
More than a decade into her career, Vautier has a crisp vision of where she wants to be and what she'd like to accomplish. "I strive to create a world without borders by giving all people an equal opportunity to succeed in life," she explains, "[And] commerce/payments is a pivotal part of this. I believe it's incredibly important to empower people all over the world with the technology, education and tools they need to alleviate poverty and build successful, diverse and happy communities/businesses that allow them to contribute to the greater social good and advance humanity."
Will success happen overnight? Probably not. But it's within your grasp. Let these strategies guide you, and don't be afraid to make today the day they start you on a path that changes everything.