U.S. Bank leaders Nicole Tackett and Kim Schwendeman have been recognized by PaymentsSource as among the Most Influential Women in Payments for 2018. This sixth annual list honors women deemed to be guiding the evolution of payments industry by “taking risks with new ideas and investments” and “setting an example for their peers.” Tackett, Schwendeman and the other 23 honorees will be recognized at the Annual Card Forum & Expo hosted by PaymentsSource and its parent publication, American Banker, May 7-9 in Miami.
Tackett oversees growth strategies for the bank’s busines-to-business payment solutions, which help organizations reduce their payment costs and enhance controls through a comprehensive set of commercial payment mechanisms. In addition, she is the general manager of the commercial virtual payments business, which markets cardless electronic payment solutions to business customers in the insurance, health care, travel, media and technology sectors. Her service work includes fundraising to fight multiple sclerosis, a personal cause for her, due to the diagnoses of a close uncle. Based near Portland, Maine, she also serves on the finance committee for the Maine Women’s Fund, which offers grants for creating social change in the lives of women and girls.
Among her strongest female influences, Tackett cites her mother, who started her career as an accountant in the early 1970s, when women in the field were rare. “My mother was one of the groundbreaking women who made it easier for me to realize that any career was attainable, if I was willing to put in the work,” Tackett said. “She was also a great example of how to balance work and life. Historically, female executives faced a false dichotomy of being a wife and a mother or having a career. My mother showed me that choosing to have a career did not need to come at the expense of motherhood or marriage.” Because of the collaboration of women and the growing number of advocates in the work environment, balance has become more attainable.”
By her own admission, Schwendeman’s path into payments was “nontraditional.” At 21, she was a single mom working as a prison guard and going to college part-time. Upon graduation she launched a career in computer programming and was soon managing an IT department. She entered into the payment world in 2000, when she was recruited to lead a software development team at Vital Processing (now TSYS). She joined Elavon in 2014, leading sales enablement initiatives for the business development team. In 2016, she became Elavon's chief of staff for North America, based in Atlanta.
Schwendeman cites a high school teacher as her chief female inspiration. “When I was 13, my mother passed away,” she said. “At a time when I was leaving childhood and becoming a young woman, I had lost my closest female influence. My freshman year I took a class from Mrs. Nancy Litteral. She connected with me. She cared. It was that simple. To me, she epitomized grace and what it meant to be a strong, professional woman. I tried to emulate her, and still do. Many times over the years, when faced with difficult situations, I’ve asked myself, ‘What would Mrs. Litteral do?’”
As the chief of staff, Schwendeman’s responsibilities including leading technology initiatives to accelerate sales and overseeing Elavon’s global Salesforce customer relationship management practice. Schwendeman is active in Elavon’s corporate partnership with YearUp, a program that provides low-income young adults opportunities for professional development and entry into the workforce. Through her sponsorship, YearUp interns get opportunities to learn Salesforce, achieve administrator certification and join Elavon as full-time employees.