Interview with Monica Eaton, CEO of Chargebacks911
Monica Eaton, entrepreneur, technology innovator, speaker, and author, was recently appointed to the role of CEO of Chargebacks911. Eaton launched the company in 2011 as a solution to the lack of resources in the market that help merchants with secure transactions. Now, Chargebacks911 is a leader in the financial technology industry and is the first global company fully dedicated to helping with fraudulent transactions. Chargebacks911 safeguards over 2.4 billion online transactions every year and represents clients in 87 different countries.
The FinTech industry is growing fast, and it is rapidly transforming the financial sector. Eaton is making great strides as a leading figure in FinTech. Her journey serves as an inspiration to women aspiring to make an impact in traditionally male-dominated industries. In an interview with the Garden State Woman Education Foundation, Eaton shared her perspective as a woman CEO and leader in a fast-growing, male-dominated industry.
- How did you begin your career in the FinTech industry?
Eaton says she started her career accidently when she took a few computer programming classes in high school. They were elective courses she was placed in; she hadn't intended to take them at all. She wanted to take fashion electives and resented being stuck with computer programming. But little did she know that these courses would be her first step into FinTech. Eaton found that she had an aptitude for coding and grew to enjoy computer science.
She liked math but she also liked creative subjects as well. In college she studied architecture and art. While it is far from computer programming, her studies allowed her to pursue her passion for creativity and problem-solving. After her first semester, she had the opportunity to work with an interior design company which led her to building and selling her first business at age 19. From there, Eaton transitioned into technology when she landed her next job at a marketing company. She was connected to this job through one of the investors from the land development organization that bought her furniture business. The company needed help managing their statistics. Eaton solved their problem by designing an Access database and building it into software in order to track their statistics. Through this project, Eaton discovered that she enjoyed working with technology and computers.
The project led Eaton to her next technological venture. She developed voice over information technology software and started another company that solved an important problem many companies face. Her software essentially helped companies track call center, marketing, and infomercial statistics in different languages and in different countries. These were the events that led her to where she is now, a successful and innovative business leader.
- What challenges have you overcome as a woman in a male-dominated industry? What lessons have you learned?
Her first and biggest challenge was when she built and sold her first business at 19. Her greatest obstacle in this challenge wasn't just from being a woman, but from being teenager. Eaton laughs as she explained that she overcame this challenge by lying about her age. She landed her first job at the interior design company as a forklift driver by telling her supervisor that she was 25 years old. She made a commitment to be the best forklift driver, and she did. Within a couple of months, however, her supervisor found out about her real age and expressed his disappointment. Eaton was afraid that she'd lose her job, but to her surprise, her supervisor was proud of her work ethic and gave her a promotion. She learned many valuable lessons and skills that she would take to her future career. She worked in and learned about sales, accounting, marketing, and much more. She gained confidence in her abilities and realized the importance of hard work.
As she continued doing business in her early 20s, she recognized that she was at a disadvantage due to being a young woman in a male-dominated world. Eaton explained that in work settings, men assumed that she was just an assistant or secretary. Instead of letting this bring her down, Eaton used it to her advantage. She created two email accounts and acted as both the boss and an assistant. She would respond to her clients as an assistant and refer them to "her boss" which was her. As the assistant, Eaton sold accounts to clients, help set them up and eventually, she developed a strong relationship with her clients that they were no longer interested in meeting the CEO. They knew that they could rely on Eaton; she was always on top of the work that needed to be done. Eaton explained that acting as both the assistant and the boss in her own company was beneficial in that it allowed for much easier negotiations. If she encountered a client that gave a low offer, she could simply say, "I checked with my boss and I'm really sorry, but he would not go that low."
Eaton's most recent challenge she overcame as a woman in a male-dominated industry was when she expanded her company internationally. One of the countries she expanded into was India. Eaton explained that working in India is a wonderful experience, though she had to overcome challenges regarding cultural differences. Upon entering the conference room, she noticed no one would make eye contact with her, and they assumed that she was the one that would be serving them tea. While Eaton felt insulted, she remained calm and humble, served the tea, and took leadership of the room. She answered questions, gave her presentation, and grabbed the attention of everyone in the room. She has a wonderful relationship with her team in India. She learned the importance of being confident and knowing her worth and capabilities.
- How do you foster diversity and inclusion within your organizations?
- What advice would you give to other women who aspire to hold leadership roles but may face barriers based on their gender or other factors?
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