Lynne Biggar’s innate sense of adventure has served her well. Whether it’s a global trek or a cross-country move to New York City for an MBA, it’s a willingness to embrace “stretch goals” that has shaped her life and work. Here, Biggar shares her latest effort – addressing women’s financial empowerment with Visa’s groundbreaking sponsorships.
Tell us about what you are doing now.
I am Visa’s Chief Marketing & Communications Officer. In this role and with my awesome team, I drive all of our brand, marketing, client engagement, sponsorship management & activation, and communications efforts globally. Given Visa is the leading global payments technology company, it is a role that keeps me very busy and I love every minute of it.
How did you get to where you are today and what pivotal moments did you face along the way?
I often describe myself as a business major with a minor in marketing and communications. My background is different from many other CMO’s. While CMO’s typically come from a media or branding background, I’ve focused on performance-based marketing and owning P&Ls while leading businesses within businesses.
I always had a willingness to try new things and get outside of my comfort zone. I enjoy setting aggressive goals and finding ways to get there. I do this at work and in my life outside of work. So, I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro, run a marathon, and trekked through Nepal, Bhutan and other places. I believe this tendency towards always wanting to test myself benefits both the company I work for and myself personally.
One of the most pivotal moments early in my career was moving to New York City. I grew up in California but had always been drawn to the energy of New York. When I decided to get an MBA, I decided to do so in New York and this decision has shaped pretty much every role I’ve stepped into since. It is what ultimately led me to Visa, a company based back in California but with a strong global presence, including New York.
What do you see as the major opportunities and challenges for women today?
Women’s financial empowerment is something we are focused on at Visa and within my team. In the last several months, we’ve launched work in the U.S. focused on addressing women’s evolving relationship with money and a groundbreaking sponsorship of UEFA women’s football (soccer) in Europe and are also busy activating our sponsorship of the FIFA Women’s World Cup happening this summer in Paris. In addition, we are providing female entrepreneurs with more ways to advance their goals through two new programs: the first-of-its-kind push with a Women’s Global Edition of our five-year-old Visa Everywhere Initiative and She’s Next, Empowered by Visa, a program that provides support to women small business owners as they build, sustain and advance their businesses.
What solutions or advice can you share?
"Be authentic, future-leaning, change-embracing and present."
Be authentic, future-leaning, change-embracing and present. It’s so easy to get lost in technology and stray from your focus. Even with today’s ways of connecting globally through technology, for me, there is no better way to connect with teams, partners and customers than to visit and engage in the markets we operate in.
Who helped you in your journey and how did they shape your thinking?
I’ve had the good fortune of having a few mentors along the way that have pushed me outside my comfort zone and supported and believed in me to achieve stretch goals. It helped me appreciate the value of being a ‘servant leader.’ I’m here to set direction, ensure my team has what they need to deliver or exceed our goals, keep the energy and excitement high, remove roadblocks that might get in the way and celebrate both smaller accomplishments along the way and the big picture outcomes.
"It helped me appreciate the value of being a ‘servant leader.’"
What one thing would you have done differently early in your career if you had the right bit of advice?
I am a ‘no regrets’ person. Some of my most helpful career experiences have been those that I haven’t loved, but have learned a lot from – about what I like to do or don’t like to do and things I’m better at. I’ve always had a good sense of when my growth is best served by staying or by going and the willingness to take those leaps.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, money or talent would be no object, what would you be doing?
I’m an avid adventure traveler so I’d love to be a photographer for National Geographic which would perfectly combine my passions for travel, photography and wildlife. Or, closer to home, I’d be a dog walker here in New York City. This job would combine many of my passions: animals, exercise, the outdoors and New York City!