We caught up with ACI Worldwide’s, Director of Fraud and Risk Product Management, Jackie Barwell, to find out what makes her tick…
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
When working for Citigroup, I had to overcome the challenge to create and implement a company-wide proactive approach to managing fraud risk across the business – with no resource budget. It was a big ask given that at the time, the company employed 350,000 full time employees with a similar number of temporary and contract staff. I selected the existing network of Compliance Officers to be the fraud risk ‘ears and eyes’ of Citigroup – and I travelled the world to meet this 300-strong team. Using colourful but real examples of successful frauds, I educated them on the facts about the deceptive mind of a fraudster and furnished them with enough knowledge to recognise fraud risk. Seeing this team of individuals who, at the beginning of the education sessions looking like ‘deer in the headlights’, turn into purposeful and excited individuals keen to get back into their respective businesses to seek out fraud vulnerabilities and plug the gaps, was my most memorable achievement. I spent 10 years at the company, reaching SVP and Global Head of Fraud Management.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
To be honest, I didn’t set out to work in technology. I left school at 16 and went into the very first job that said ‘yes’ to my application – an office junior role for a network of local Kent newspapers, progressing to ‘telesales’ therein within a year. One day I happened to take a ‘situations vacant’ advertisement request from Clydesdale Bank to be put into the paper the following week, they were looking for a secretary and I applied. That gave me the ‘banking job in London’ that I had decided was my next goal in life – I was 18. It was really as I was progressing through that role and then moving onto other financial institutions (Bank of America and Citigroup) where I found myself working in areas of control such as Audit and Fraud Investigations and Fraud Management. These areas rely on technology to be successful – needing to use automation to spot anomalies, deficiencies, fraud and operational risk weaknesses and to spot signs of money laundering. As my career progressed, I found myself being responsible for the selection of this technology – so moving into the world of technology, in positions where I could influence the shape, content and direction of that technology, was a natural move for me.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
I’ve always had an inclusive and mentoring style of management. Teams need a blend of personality types to be successful and I make conscious efforts to ensure those less ‘extrovert’ in the team are able to be heard in whatever method they feel most comfortable getting their views and points across – which may not be on that conference call, or in that meeting room. All too often it’s the quiet individual’s few words that could have the most impact on the topic of the day.
What do you think will emerge as the technology trend of 2019 and why?
Will it be the concerted effort towards preparing for IoT and 5G? This huge preparation effort will involve merchants, telecom companies, solution and payment providers, financial services and solutions, security and risk management, regulation and legislation, governments, cross-border/cross-continent collaboration and more. I’ve seen that preparation taking place here at ACI with our data centre work and solution architectural innovations, all with a view to providing any payment, anytime, anywhere using anything. The payments sector is an exciting place to be right now.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
This is linked to my thoughts about the world ‘getting ready’ for IoT and 5G – in combination with the work I’m involved with here at ACI – eCommerce. Ensuring any solution that will be used to bring smart devices and homes to life, or make our lives as consumers infinitely flexible in terms of how we want to make our purchases, will need to be fast, robust, secure and can cope with enormous growth. So, areas of investment will include making sure the architecture provides all those strengths. And because of the speed of change, efforts to implement innovation is going to be key.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside of the office?
I have two absolutely beautiful grandchildren. They are young, bundles of energy and individuality – and I’m totally besotted. Being a parent is so rewarding – but just wait until you’re a grandparent!
If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change anything. My whole career has given me strong reasons for staying in a role and strong reasons for moving onto the next. It’s flowed the way it needed to and I’ve been very fortunate to come across influential mentors that have helped me shape my career for the better. Sometimes you need someone who recognises your potential and can offer you an opportunity to take initiative and change your career path for the better.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in Europe?
In this world of collaboration, data sharing needs, security concerns, global realm of eCommerce fraudsters, advancements in technology and AI on both sides of the law, competitiveness, innovation, speed – the region-specific challenges are more complex than ever. There has always been a fine balance to be reached when it comes to preventing fraudsters from stealing what is rightfully ours (or our customers’) – but the shrinking of the world in the way consumers behave is making that balancing act ever more complicated. Do we harden our borders and keep our data safe – but open ourselves up to risk because we are blind to global trends and behaviour? Do we relax our sharing concerns and succeed in trapping and stopping the fraudster? The pace of innovation and progress will only make this a harder question to answer.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
Over the past couple of years, ACI has increased its focus on the solutions that are utilised in the cloud, with heavy investment in creating the robust, safe, secure bedrock that is required for this space. It’s been extremely rewarding to be part of this exciting journey that will ultimately provide infinite payment and fraud management opportunities for our customers and to see that work coming to fruition. We’ve stepped up our efforts as we are close to launching the fruits of this hard work and the next 12 months will be all about enabling our customers to take full advantage of the new strengths.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain C-level position in your industry?
I would say spot opportunities and take them. Be vocal about change you wish to make for the better, but be clear on how you communicate the need for change and provide the practical reasons for it. Take on new responsibilities that could lead to bigger and better things and over-achieve on those new responsibilities. Concentrate on striving towards your goals, but expand or change them where it makes sense for the company. Challenge yourself, but believe in yourself – if you are fortunate, there may be encouraging mentors in positions of influence who see something in you and offer you an opportunity – learn to recognise those times in your career and just go for it. As you progress through the ranks, become a mentor in your own right, a teacher of good practices and behaviours and keep your team enthused and interested. Learn to delegate because as you rise, you need to spread the load – but strive to have your team be so well-oiled it can be as successful without you, as it is with you.