July 17, 2017 – In our three-part series, Uniting Our Stories, we had the chance to speak with several employees about how their experiences have shaped who they are and what they believe. This week, in our last profile, we talk with Otto Williams, Visa’s Vice President Innovation & Strategic Partnership, on what inclusive leadership looks like to him and how all leaders can foster it.
Q: Tell me a little about what you and your team do at Visa?
I lead Visa’s digital wallet partnerships, specifically our relationships across Apple, Google, Microsoft. My team’s goal is to drive Visa’s innovation agenda with these strategic partners and to enable compelling payment experiences on their devices and platforms across the globe, leveraging various Visa solutions and products. We are also responsible for managing the merchant relationship and ensuring that Visa is seen as a strategic partner to their core revenue businesses.
Q: As a leader, what does inclusive leadership mean to you? How do you go about fostering it on your teams?
Everyone has a unique perspective on a problem statement and possible solutions. Each person has a unique style on how to get things done efficiently. Inclusive leadership to me is bringing out these qualities in my team and helping people avoid the tendency to be one of the same or to hold back on their valuable unique styles, approach and perspectives. I do this by asking open-ended questions and creating opportunities for ownership of outcomes and deliverables.
Q: Are there people in your personal or professional life who have helped you achieve success in your career?
One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve received came from a Visa leader: “to be successful you have to be ready to lead with your chin sometimes.” To be successful, you can’t be afraid to step right into the debate or to challenge the status quo. The outcome may not always be rosy, but it’s the right move. This demonstration of fearless leadership has been a great motivation for me and many that I know at Visa. I view this as inclusive leadership that encourages participation and success by all, regardless of where you are in the hierarchy.
Q: Why is it important that there are more black leaders at Visa? What are your thoughts on how we are developing the next generation of black leaders at Visa and how can we improve?
I have always believed that payments is a cultural experience. People pay and experience commerce differently all over the world, across generations, across gender and across ethnicities. Millennials have a payments culture, seniors experience payments differently and various groups engage in unique payments styles. Visa has to be present in all of these interactions and we should strive to capture such unique experiences in our products. Having representation where executive decisions are made reflects inclusiveness in our products. Visa’s untapped opportunities are greater than its current achievements. Inclusive leadership means corporate commitment to broadening our opportunities and reach; and for many underrepresented communities, nothing says more than showing through representation, that they can share in our progress.