A Sit Down with Visa’s Shiv Singh

July 7, 2016

By Molly Knol

Shiv Singh knows a thing or two about innovation. As senior vice president and global head of digital and marketing transformation at Visa, he is responsible for global digital and marketing transformation across external stakeholders — from consumers and merchants to financial institutions and tech partners. “[At Visa], we start with the premise that great ideas can come from anywhere be it from within the organization, agency partners, technology firms, startups, design schools, or individual entrepreneurs,” he says. “We’ve created an environment that welcomes those big ideas and the people or institutions that bring inspiration and passion to their work.”

Shiv is a featured speaker at this month’s ANA Digital & Social Media Conference, and he opens up about rewarding success at Visa, working with startups, and transforming marketing.

How do you reward success on your team? 
We put extra emphasis on celebrating our joint successes. The saying goes that success has many parents while failure has none. This rings true because it really does take a family to make something special happen. For us, the best reward is delivering work that connects with our clients and improves the core Visa business.

What are the main advantages of working with startup partners? What challenges should digital marketers keep in mind?
Working with startup partners is truly a unique experience and one we've done extensively over the last few years. They bring enthusiasm, energy, and ambition that are infectious in a really positive way. The startups we've worked with have helped us change the way we do business just as we help them grow in different ways. It is a mutually beneficial relationship. Startups often have a rather unique pulse on emergent consumer behavior and the mega-trends that are more relevant and meaningful than those that get written up in the press. As a result, the insights gleaned from working with startups are immensely valuable. It is like having the best market research in the world.

The biggest challenge is separating the wheat from the chaff. You have to develop a sense to know which startups have the integrity, the resilience, and the fortitude to sustain success. We look for companies able to launch products with strong product/market fit, stress-tested business models, and the staying power to work with large companies, whether as business partners, customers, or collaborators.  

In what ways has the transformation of marketing at Visa benefited the company internally and externally?
The Visa marketing function goes through a daily transformation as our industry, our company, and our consumers evolve for the digital world. Our CEO expects us to have the same level of success in the digital world as we do in the physical and that requires constant growth, especially as payments become more digital and more companies create digital banking products and services. As a result, we approach our marketing to be digital first. That means anchoring in the broader digital ecosystem, nurturing business relationships with technology companies and startups, and opening up the core Visa Net APIs.

We've also shifted to doing more of our marketing with our consumers as opposed to marketing at them. I'd point out too that we're doing this jointly with our issuers and merchants. As an example, I'm proud of the awesome work Visa has done for the Olympics in partnership with United Airlines. We are leveraging our digital, social, and technology partnerships to amplify our "Carpool" ad campaign across many channels. And our "The Everywhere Initiative" has already collected 520 submissions by startups to address very specific Visa Inc. business challenges. All of this change makes it a really exciting time to be in the industry.

Hear more from Shiv at the 2016 ANA Digital & Social Media Conference, July 20–22, in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he’ll discuss the importance of innovation and seeking out startup partners to drive corporate growth.

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