In addition to being a favorite auntie to 14 nieces and nephews, Colleen Taylor has held a number of significant roles. From her current position as President, Merchant Services - U.S. for American Express to her role as a member of the Board of Trustees at Spelman College to her seat on the Board of Directors at Bill.com.
This month, Taylor adds a new title to her already impressive resume: Savoy Magazine 2021 Most Influential Black Corporate Director.
Savoy’s Most Influential Black Corporate Directors edition is the most comprehensive listing of African-American executives, influencers, and achievers contributing leadership to corporate boards. Previous years’ awards have recognized Directors from a broad range of leading companies—Apple, Nordstrom, PayPal, Exxon Mobil, H&R Block, and Marriott International, just to name a few.
On the occasion of Taylor receiving this great honor, she took the time to sit down with Oriana Branon, Director of Corporate Communications at Bill.com, for a brief Q&A about what this recognition means to her, her career journey, mentorship and allyship, and more.
Congratulations on your recognition! What does it mean to you to be named a Most Influential Black Corporate Director by Savoy Magazine?
This award is an amazing recognition—one that celebrates my ability to both advise and learn from one of the most innovative payments players in the market. As I am a lifetime learner and a bonafide payments nerd, it’s awesome that board service is a great intersection of the two.
Tell us about your career journey, from the early days to now at American Express
Before my current position at American Express, most recently I was at Wells Fargo where I focused on providing strategic direction, financial management, and leadership of Wells Fargo’s Merchant Services business.
Prior to that, I was EVP, New Payments at MasterCard where I oversaw product development and drove growth across North America in key industries. I’ve also held leadership positions at Capital One, including head of Treasury Management, Merchant Services and Enterprise Payments, as well as at Wachovia Bank and JPMorgan Chase.
With over 30 years of experience in banking, merchant and B2B industries, you might say I am a veteran in the space at this point!
What have been your biggest learning lessons that you've carried with you along the way?
Over the years I’ve learned a number of lessons. Here are some of the top takeaways that resonate for me.
I believe in working hard and delivering results. It may sound simple, but it’s worth stating.
Also, being a good team member is critical—that means finding a way to get along with many different types of people.
And, throughout my career, I’ve elevated the importance of having a keen customer focus. This customer-focus manifests in everything I have ever done, from product sales operation to strategy.
Perhaps most importantly, I believe in being a champion for change. Typically, what tends to happen is that we engage in something, we start to make progress, and then we pat ourselves on the back, stop paying attention to it, and then we slip backwards again. While it’s always great to be engaged in conversation and looking to make progress—it’s critical to pay constant attention to topics like diversity and inclusion where we’re looking to make change.
How has mentorship and allyship played a role in your career journey?
Allyship is really powerful. It’s been critical to my growth and advancement across my entire career.
As an African American and openly gay woman, speaking up on issues tied to gender, minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community isn’t always easy. There can be negative consequences in the long run for people who continue to speak up, so you need people who serve as allies who can leverage their powerful voices for you.
This concept takes me back to school days when it was important that someone who had been bullied had the popular kids come and sit by him at lunch. It changes the tone of the cafeteria room.
It’s the same concept here. And when people do raise their voices, we need to appreciate these people as allies. That’s when real change can happen.
How are you helping/plan to help the next generation of African American female leaders in corporate America?
Last year, corporate America was confronted with systemic issues of racial injustice and inequality exacerbated by a global health crisis. I felt it was my duty to play a role to push for racial justice and equity in the workplace and beyond.
In my workplace, I mentor and participate across employee engagement networks that empower Women, People of Color, and LGBTQ+. This is critical work: to coach and grow talent to be successful in their careers.
Personally, I serve on many boards. But I feel that my seat on the board of Spelman College (a historically black liberal arts college for women located in Atlanta, Georgia) is particularly important in ensuring that our next generation of leaders are provided with the resources and the best education to make a difference after they graduate.
Thank you so much, Colleen. We are so honored to have you on our board. Congratulations again on this remarkable achievement!
Meet all of the Bill.com Board of Directors.