Erika Pearson – CUP Leadership Board Member Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
I am currently the Director of Membership Rewards Servicing & Partner Management at American Express. In this role, I lead a virtual team who is responsible for ensuring that the redemption experience for Cardmembers is seamless and top notch, such that it drives them to recommend American Express to their family and friends. Throughout the 6 years I have assumed this role, I have been responsible for developing and executing point of arrival servicing footprints, negotiating key partner contracts, and creating the environment that enables our Customer Care Professionals to make a connection with our Cardmembers, and deliver superior service.

Prior to joining American Express, I worked for Capital One for 7 years, in similar customer facing and partner management roles. Having been introduced to financial services via my Inroads internship, I quickly realized that I thoroughly enjoyed working in a fast paced environment that afforded me autonomy to lead teams and drive results.  Ultimately, I found my passion in roles that enabled me to leverage servant leadership and collaboration to develop customer strategies that drove growth for the business.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?
We have a saying at American Express that holds true for my department, and I'm sure many others - the only thing constant is change. While I personally thrive off of change and consider myself a strong change agent, everyone doesn't welcome change in the same manner. The landscape of financial services and loyalty is ever changing for consumers, as they expect the institutions they trust to protect them and deliver increased value for them. In turn, the biggest challenge continues to be reinventing myself and my team - leveraging the tenure we have to deliver strong results, yet being innovative enough to ensure that we continue to surprise and delight our Cardmembers year over year. Particularly in a servicing environment, where my responsibility is to meet the needs of my Cardmembers during each and every interaction, it is equally important to appropriately prioritize - creating a highly engaging and productive virtual team is as important as allowing ample time to foster innovation.

What is your proudest achievement?
As an only child, I've always been encouraged by my mom and dad, and have a strong faith, family, and support system. It is these elements that have helped me earn my MBA while working full time. While I am extremely proud of that accomplishment, I am equally proud of how I have been able to advance my career through two relocations, remain actively involved in my community as a mentor and board member, live my motto of 'work hard, play hard,'  all the while staying grounded and humble. I don't take for granted any of my achievements, and believe the person I am today is based on what I have preserved through - good and bad!

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
From a historic perspective, Martin Luther King, Jr and Rosa Parks laid the foundation for me to do, and be, as I am today. Their courage to stand up for their own definition of equality, in both a humble, yet assertive way definitely resonates with me, and is closely aligned to my ideals and leadership values. In the present day, President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama also embody the kind of perseverance, hope, and dedication that enables them to overcome obstacles, break new ground, pay it forward and be symbolic of our growth and promise for the future!

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In 10 years, I believe I will be happy and right where I'm supposed to be, as part of His divine plan. I'd like to think that will include a family of my own, a thriving career as a General Manager of a specific area of business, and an opportunity to be an active member of several Boards, where I can give of my time and talents to advance the community around me.

How has your participation on the Leadership Board impacted the way you approach your day-to-day role?
The Leadership Board has truly been instrumental in providing me 'a seat at the table' with business leaders and executives at my own company. It has increased my network and exposed me to a strong and diverse variety of professionals, who approach situations in a unique manner. In turn, this has broadened my thinking and helped me be more deliberate in how I attack what's ahead of me - personally and professionally. At the end of the day, I'm expected to bring my best self to work each day, and the Leadership Board experience has been phenomenal in helping me round out my skills, confidence, and value I bring to my organization.