BR: From American Express to Visa and now Fiserv you have held several integral leadership roles, how do you see your board and executive roles working in concert and advancing the way you operate as a leader?
SK: I’m a lifelong learner. I believe in looking at life through as many lenses as possible to better myself. Thus, the opportunity to engage at the Board level and executive level helps provide incremental context for every decision in terms of how key stakeholders view success. As a day-to-day operator of a large business, it helps me provide better perspectives at the Board level. In a similar way, being active in large Boards sharpens my focus as an executive.
You are very thoughtful when it comes to selecting board roles. How do you choose which boards are the right fit for you? What advice would you give others who are at the start of their board journey and considering the right next step? How do you see your non-profit and for-profit board roles integrating?
It comes down to people, culture, and mission. Starting with people, I’m focused on working with those that I respect, that I can learn from, and that will energize and motivate me to be the best version of myself – that’s across both fellow Board members and management. Second, culture is key. I join Boards to serve. I look to be a part of an organization that wants to do more, add value, and work collaboratively to better outcomes for all stakeholders. Finally, mission. We, Board and Management, must be working to solve complex problems that will drive improvements in the world. Grange and 3M seek to improve consumer experiences and the daily lives of people everywhere. That holds true in my executive career too. I’m proud to work at Fiserv where we drive a business that digitizes economies, democratizes access, and pulls people up. Everyone, in any capacity, needs to be motivated by what they are doing to be their best – finding that in your Board search is key. I believe this to hold true between non-profit and for-profit boards. I bring the best of myself to all my work.
Grange Insurance was your first for-profit board, how did you find this opportunity? What advice would you give to others searching for their first board role?
Like many things in life, Board opportunities come up in different ways, sometimes when you least expect it. Grange came to me from a mutual connection in executive search who had worked with me in a prior role. It's as much about the networks you develop and maintain as it is about the discussions to assess scope and fit. In preparation for a search, I would tell people to put themselves out there – reach out to your network, connect with search firms, ask your mentors, and raise your hand. I would also do work to get ready – get a couch, get advice from those on boards, figure out your unique point of view and what differentiated value you bring.
What are some of the largest benefits of more diverse boards that you have seen through your executive and board roles?
Diversity in all its forms – background, thought, experience, gender, culture, national origin, etc – is fundamental to success. From simple examples like the ability to design for a broader customer set, to the impact on retention, to harder to measure examples like the mental health impacts on employees who feel a sense of belonging at work… it’s critical. Managers have an obligation to not only employees, but to shareholders and customers, to drive an experience that embraces differences to make us better.
Suzan Kereere is Head of Global Business Solutions at Fiserv, Inc., overseeing the company’s merchant-focused offerings, including the Clover® business management platform and Carat™ enterprise omnichannel commerce platform. Kereere leverages her extensive experience leading payments and technology businesses to deliver excellence for clients ranging from small and mid-sized companies to global enterprises.
Most recently, Kereere served as Chief Growth Office at Fiserv, leading enterprise strategy and business development initiatives to enhance client value and accelerate growth.
An experienced business executive with expertise in leading payments and technology platform businesses at Fortune 100 companies across global business lines and regional high growth start-ups, Kereere is well-recognized for her accomplishments in digital transformation, sales optimization, front-line customer engagement, and inclusive growth.
Prior to Fiserv, Kereere led a multi-billion-dollar business and global team as Global Head of Merchant Sales & Acquiring at Visa. Her background also includes leadership roles at American Express, including head of US National Merchant Business and head of Global Network Business.
Kereere is a champion for, and sought-after authority on, equity in the corporate space, and has driven leading-edge work to bring analytics to the forefront in the discussion on race and inclusion.
Suzan serves as a member of the 3M Board of Directors and as a non-executive Director on the board of Grange insurance Company, having previously served on the boards of the National Retail Federation Foundation, the US Travel Association, the American Red Cross (NY Chapter) and the Zawadi Africa Educational Fund.
She holds an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School and a B.A. in Economics from Tufts University.