CO-OP Financial Services, a financial technology and payments company serving 3,500 credit unions and their 60 million consumers.
She handles the company’s experience strategy, managing the ways CO-OP’s brand is delivered through message, product and value chain. She is also the founder of CO-OP THINK, an innovation content platform and event series empowering the evolution of modern, mission-driven financial services.
Deb Bailey: Welcome to the Secrets of Success blog, Samantha. Please share how did you get started as an entrepreneur.
Samantha Paxson: Great to be here, Deb. I started as an entrepreneur inadvertently! I started out as a journalist not working in journalism – I took my background in storytelling and went into entertainment public relations and quickly morphed into marketing consulting for clients ranging from Aston Martin, Hurley/Billabong and Hoteles Camino Real to American Express and Marlboro Racing.
One of my clients, a small ATM company trying to go national asked me to move in-house as their VP of Marketing at the advent of the FinTech revolution and I moved from simple storyteller to transformational “intrapreneuer” shifting the way our brand was delivered through experience, messaging, technology and service. I introduced an event series, magazine and content portal called CO-OP THINK and it immediately gained a considerable following in our industry and beyond. I found that curiosity and boredom with what exists are fantastic creativity boosters that can transform any business from the inside out.
Deb: I think a lot of entrepreneurs start out in a similar way. They plan one thing, but they end up on a different path. Are there any “lessons learned” along the way that you’d like to share?
Samantha: I wish I had learned sooner that I can make a bigger difference by getting out of my own “lane”. I found that most innovation and true change happens in the space between functions. My team gave me the nickname: SILO SLAYER. I wear it as a badge because it builds the trust that is critical to collaboration and creative problem solving.
Deb: Who are your ideal clients?
Samantha: The decision makers at our credit unions who push the idea of what banking “is," including moving away from fear and concern, they can see the possibilities and opportunities transformation can bring. When we think of new ways today’s modern consumer wants to engage with financial services providers and the potential value we can bring as a purpose-driven industry, we can innovate on solutions to drive our mission of "people helping people."
Deb: That sounds very innovative. What have been some of your successes and challenges?
Samantha: I’ve recently led an audit of our experience delivery that allowed me to really dig into the way we deliver on our brand: from our systems and operations to our service. This was difficult – requiring deep trust-building across the company. Because digital has become the catalyst for transforming existing business, deeply understanding the current way you deliver is an important first step in every organizations’ evolution. By studying our clients and their consumers’ “jobs to be done” we can find new ways to bring ease, delight and creative solutions for paying, transacting and managing money.
Deb: What inspires you to do the work you do?
Samantha: Intersecting humanity and creativity with digital innovation and transformation. I love learning from new thinkers, mavericks and outside companies solving problems in ways I haven’t thought of on my own. I love collaboration, creative problem solving and ideation. If I can do that all day long, it’s not work, it’s joy.
Deb: When you're doing what you love, it certainly doesn't feel like work. What’s your vision for your business?
Samantha: Doing what I’m doing now, but on a larger level with much greater impact for all professionals.
Deb: I've really enjoyed this discussion, Samantha. Thanks for stopping by, and please share your website and social media URLs.
Samantha: I enjoyed it too, Deb. Here they are:
CO-OP Financial Services: http://www.co-opfs.org
CO-OP Financial Services Consumer Blog: https://co-opcreditunions.org
CO-OP THINK: http://co-opthink.org
CO-OP's Twitter: @COOPFS
Samantha's Twitter: @SamSmythPaxson
Samantha's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samanthapaxson