…we should all recognize how big of a role we can individually play in the economic recovery. More often than not it’s the small businesses on the front lines that know what communities needs most. Remember that our beloved local businesses add color and vibrancy to our lives. Where you shop matters.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lynne Biggar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Visa.
Lynne Biggar has been executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer of Visa since 2016. In this role, Ms. Biggar oversees all of Visa’s branding, insights, sponsorship, communications and go-to-market consumer and client marketing activities to continue to accelerate Visa’s brand.
Ms. Biggar joined Visa from Time Inc. where she was the executive vice president of consumer marketing and revenue. At Time Inc., she was responsible for driving consumer revenue for Time Inc. brands and products across all channels, consumer insights, data solutions and customer service.
Prior to her role at Time Inc., she spent more than 20 years at American Express in a variety of general management and marketing positions, in both the U.S. and international divisions and was a member of the company’s global management team.
In 2019, Ms. Biggar was named one of Forbes’ 2019 World’s Most Influential CMOs. In 2018, she was named one of AdWeek’s Outstanding Tech-Savvy CMOs and Most Powerful Women in Sports and to the AdWeek 50. She serves on the board of directors of Voya, The New 42nd Street, Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the Ad Council.
Ms. Biggar holds a BA in international relations from Stanford University and an MBA from Columbia University.
Thank you so much for joining us Lynne! Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
As one of the most recognizable brands in the world, we have a responsibility to not only deliver exceptional products and services, but to also use our brand’s power for social good. For us, that takes shape in the form of advocating for small and micro businesses, as well as women’s economic advancement.
SMBs account for more than 90% of global businesses and 50% to 60% of global employment. With women, we see growth in overall entrepreneurism levels, but female entrepreneurs face more challenges than their male counterparts, especially when it comes to raising capital. In a survey we commissioned, nearly three-quarters of women starting their own businesses reported difficulty in securing financing.
These challenges have only grown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, 43% of businesses only have money to last six months. That’s why now it’s especially important for Visa to step up and do more. Our support of small businesses and women entrepreneurs goes to the heart of our mission: to help individuals, businesses and economies thrive.
One example of how we bring our social impact work to life is with the Visa Foundation. The first program is a commitment to support SMB long-term recovery over the next five years, with a focus on fostering women’s economic advancement.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Seeing how our work has impact at the individual level is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. We have recently been working with IFundWomen on a series of grants for women small businesses owners in the U.S. In the wake of COVID-19, we were especially proud to announce four amazing female entrepreneurs who each received $10,000. I had the pleasure of calling some of the winners and letting them know their submissions had been selected and the experience was incredibly inspiring. These women are driven by missions that go above and beyond business and aspire to ignite real change in the world.
One of the grant winners was Amanda Wilson, founder of VOXAPOD. Amanda developed a menstrual cycle care brand that helps fight the gender education gap while reducing waste and building stronger communities. In developing countries, 40–60% of girls sometimes miss secondary school due to a lack of access to menstrual health products. Amanda intends to use her grant to expand operations to those most in need. She has already eliminated the cost burden of single-use products for thousands of women, helped more than 200 girls stay in school with confidence while helping to reduce non-biodegradable waste. Visa is thrilled to have the opportunity to support Amanda’s cause and vision.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
As COVID-19 continues to unfold, communities are feeling the effects and need our immediate support.
First, at the community level, we should all recognize how big of a role we can individually play in the economic recovery. More often than not it’s the small businesses on the frontlines that know what communities needs most. Remember that our beloved local businesses add color and vibrancy to our lives. Where you shop matters.
Second, for political leaders, it’s critical you do all you can to financially support the small businesses that help our economy run. Relief funds are one way, but anything that helps alleviate the financial stress on a small business is important.
Lastly, we can all make a difference by actively encouraging and supporting female entrepreneurs. By doing so, we can create a ripple effect towards achieving gender equality, reducing poverty and fostering inclusive economic development. Ensuring a long-term view on a problem with massive short-term implications is essential to recovery.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
To me, leadership is about demonstrating commitment to the goal, the task and the team. It’s about being in the boat, paddling just as hard to get across the river as everyone else is. It’s not about standing on the shore and yelling directions. Leadership often requires taking leaps of faith, whether those leaps are rooted in data or instinct, and stepping outside your comfort zone. It’s about ensuring the team has a safe environment to recommend those leaps too. And then when we agree to go, be all in … together.
Thank you Lynne for these great insights, and your great work!