FinTech Female Fridays:Meet Kathleen Peters, Chief Innovation Officer at Experian Decision Analytics
Kathleen Peters began her career as an electrical engineer, specializing in cutting-edge cellular phone technology. This experience led Kathleen to explore roles related to mobile applications, connected devices and big data analytics. Living in Silicon Valley, the epicenter of technology and innovation, Kathleen ventured into business roles at mid-size companies and startups that were pushing the boundaries of new technologies and use cases related to mobile – from operating systems, to multimedia, and even real-time encryption. Driven by the rapidly evolving digital landscape in mobile phones and consumer banking, Kathleen was driven to explore the connection between cybersecurity and fraud in the digital world and took the opportunity of joining Experian's identity and fraud group.
Today, Kathleen serves as the Chief Innovation Officer at Experian Decision Analytics in North America. Kathleen puts great value in making authentic connections, and understands that people value authenticity.
Kathleen is excited about the renewed attention to fraud detection and prevention. It’s natural for startups to be focused on building convenient user experiences and driving growth, but fraudsters are always looking for an opening, a vulnerability they can exploit. “ It’s great to see a number of companies implementing a multi-layered approach to fighting fraud and using data and analytics in creative ways to detect fraud risk.”
Kathleen’s pride in working at Experian is two-fold: Experian’s commitment to being a champion for consumers by enabling fair and responsible lending, and its dedication to promoting a diverse and inclusive culture that makes Experian a great place to work.
Experian is proud to be a champion for consumers and their goal is to help consumers get access to the fair and affordable credit they need to reach their goals. Their work helps consumers take control of their financial health, whether that is through boosting their credit score, protecting their identity or getting credit education.
While being a champion for consumers, Experian is also a champion for its employees. Experian has been recognized as a Best Workplace for Women by Fortune, a top company for women technologists by
AnitaB.org, a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Disability:IN and a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
Additionally, Kathleen is passionate about the impact she has on the fintech landscape. In her role, she is responsible for regularly meeting with and reviewing fintechs and other emerging tech startups for potential investment by Experian Ventures. As a company that fintechs trust to help them with credit reports and scores, identity verification and fraud prevention, Experian has also recently introduced Hunter, a new U.S. fintech data network that will help fight fraud across the industry. It already has participation commitments from nine leading fintechs and is designed to bring a new level of protection to businesses and consumers from fraud. The new network will help identify and prevent fraud, improve customer experiences, reduce false-positive referrals, and optimize fraud decision strategies.
More on Kathleen
Current location: San Jose, CA
How do you challenge yourself in your role? How do you differentiate yourself at your role?
Just as Experian puts consumers at the heart of what we do, in my work, I pride myself in making personal connections. I find that people value authenticity; when I carefully listen, engage, and am fully present in my interactions, I’m able to be a more effective colleague, industry peer, leader, and presenter.
What's the best job decision you ever made?
Joining Experian has turned out to be the best job decision I’ve made. The company’s values align with my values, and I feel appreciated and respected in my role. My leaders are supportive of my passions for new vertical markets and for innovation and have given me opportunities to grow and develop in my career.
Can you tell us about a time someone encouraged you to try a task or take on a project you didn’t think that you would know how to do/or be good at?
There have been multiple times in my career journey where I’ve worried whether I had what it takes for a new internal role or to switch companies to a new job that I was interested in. I found myself unsure whether I had enough experience or all the skills to meet the remit. In each instance, I took a deep breath, and chose to look at these challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. My natural curiosity always kicked in from there, and I’ve never looked back.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from a mistake you’ve made in the past?
We all make mistakes, and I’ve made plenty. I had a leader that would always say, “feedback is a gift.” It didn’t always feel like a gift at the moment, but they were right. The biggest mistake of all would be to ignore the lessons learned and miss the opportunity to apply the feedback to make a course correction, a pivot, or a change of behavior. I don’t ever want to stop growing and so the lesson I’ve taken away is to always value feedback, however it is delivered.
Do you have any productivity hacks? What keeps you motivated? How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Maintaining work/life balance can be difficult for anyone. As a working wife and mom, I have asked and been asked many times, how best to maintain the balance. What I’ve found is that trying to keep that balance perfectly level at all times is impossible. I love my work, and I love my family more. So, when I am at home and “off” of work time, I do everything I can to be fully present. I rarely take a phone call during a kid’s sporting event, and I don’t scroll through my text messages during dinner or read email when I work out. When I’m working, I strive to focus all my energy on the task at work. It’s my way of attempting to achieve the balance as an average over time.
Favorite fintech media (blog, podcast, newsletter etc) that inspires you and why?
The Lex Fridman Podcast, hosted by its namesake, a former Google machine learning scientist, and now MIT researcher. While it was originally called the Artificial Intelligence Podcast when it began in 2018, Lex renamed his program in 2020 to reflect the much broader range of topics he covers. Lex goes really in depth, leveraging his natural curiosity while tackling difficult subjects and interviewing interesting people (many famous, some less so) from world chess champion Magnus Carlsen, to Elon Musk, Fiona Hill, Sam Altman and more. I feel I learn something fascinating, and in more detail than I could imagine, every time I listen.
What is one piece of advice someone told you that resonated with you that can give to other women in FinTech?
A piece of advice I received several years ago that has proven very valuable in my career is to hone my communications and story-telling skills. It’s so important to be able to communicate clearly and succinctly, and to be able to get your message across in a way that is compelling. Any time you can frame your message in a story, your audience will be more engaged, and your points will be more memorable.
6:00 am: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze. (Bad habit)
6:10 am: Get up, get dressed, feed our yellow lab, Lucy.
6:15 am: Take Lucy around the neighborhood for a walk/run – it’s better than caffeine, for getting the blood flowing and mind cleared for the day ahead.
7:00 am: About that caffeine... grab a cup of half-caff from our old-school countertop drip coffee maker, shower and get myself office-ready, meeting-ready or video-call-ready depending on my schedule.
7:45 am: Make sure kids are up and moving, getting ready for school, spend a few minutes with them before everybody is out the door. We’re lucky to be in walking distance of school!
8:15 am: Depending on the day, check email, get ready to hop on a video call, or drive to the office, which is on the beautiful Santana Row in San Jose. However, today I’m leaving a bit early so that I can head to Plug and Play HQ, one of the local startup accelerators here in Silicon Valley, for a series of pitches from startup founders and early-stage companies.
6:00 pm: Time to finish up work if possible; drive kids to activities, make dinner (I love to cook!), attend a meeting for one of the non-profits I volunteer with, depending on the day. One more check of email and tomorrow’s schedule.
11:30 pm: After family time and some winding down, I always read before going to sleep (biographies are a favorite), I try to be lights out by 11:30.