Since joining WEX over three years ago, Melissa Dudley has simultaneously held two separate and distinctly different positions within the organization. As both the executive assistant to our president of corporate payments and the corporate philanthropy manager, she says that balancing the two roles is almost like having two different personalities and requires strong time management skills. Melissa’s story shows how this seemingly unusual combination taps into both her considerable skills and passions.
It All Started on Her Honeymoon
Born and raised in Arlington, VA, Melissa started her career managing health and fitness clubs in Washington, DC. During those eight years, she met her husband, a Maine native. After honeymooning on the Maine coast, the pair checked out apartment rentals in Portland to see how they compared with DC. They fell in love with a place, and signed the lease on the spot. They then returned to DC, quit their jobs, and moved to Maine three weeks later.
Once in Portland, Melissa looked for work outside the health and fitness industry, and landed a job in the development and fundraising office at the University of Southern Maine (USM). During her 10 years with USM, she worked her way up to ultimately serve as director of alumni relations. In that role, she ran all alumni engagement efforts, from fundraising and events to donor interactions and strategic communications across the entire USM network.
Melissa’s work at USM built her professional skills, as well as her passion for community engagement and strategic communications. When budget cuts eliminated her position, she wanted to take those elements into a corporate environment that could provide stability and growth. WEX and our then-CEO were already on her radar because of their corporate and individual support of USM. So when she saw we were looking for an executive assistant (EA), she applied.
“While I didn’t have any experience in the payments industry, I thought the EA position would be a good way to get into WEX, meet people, and figure out where I wanted to go from there,” says Melissa. “My USM experience showed me how being in an administrative role can help you get a sense of opportunities and figure out how your expertise can translate within an organization.”
Navigating Two Worlds at WEX
From the onset, Melissa’s hiring manager recognized her interesting background and promised, “We’re going to have to think about how to best use you.” As luck would have it, WEX corporate philanthropy soon became the responsibility of the executive she supported – giving Melissa the chance to use the skills she honed at USM. Melissa’s dual roles were formalized when our SVP and General Counsel Hilary Rapkin assumed leadership of corporate philanthropy and Melissa was asked to assist with management of the philanthropy program in addition to her role as EA to the president of corporate payments.
As part of the corporate payments team, Melissa provides high-level support to President of Corporate Payments, Jay Dearborn. One of just a handful of EAs in the organization, she works to anticipate Dearborn’s needs, makes sure he’s prepared for what’s ahead, and helps to manage the daily flow of his life leading a global team. She also helps to manage internal communications for corporate payments, coordinating with marketing and senior leadership on the writing and delivery of monthly team messages.
“I love working in corporate payments – it’s a great team of people, the energy is contagious, and it’s a really exciting place to be,” says Melissa. “We definitely have an entrepreneurial, start-up vibe, and the team has the reputation within WEX for being forward-thinking and innovative. And while the bulk of our team is in South Portland, I get to connect with other virtual team members throughout the US, Europe, and Asia.”
As corporate philanthropy manager, Melissa initially worked with Rapkin to develop an online grant application tool to streamline the process for organizations making requests for support. Along with creating a web presence for social responsibility, this early work helped define process, language, and tracking for charitable and community activities. Melissa notes that there was already a robust history and foundation for these activities at WEX, and the program just needed more defined goals, reporting, and structure.
These days, WEX corporate philanthropy looks at its work and mission as less of a transaction and more of a partnership, says Melissa. That means talking to organizations about how to engage WEXers in their mission through volunteer efforts or programs like CodeX, which brings events directly into the workplace. Melissa works with Rapkin and a small committee to manage larger, more strategic gifts and programmatic decisions. Additionally, she provides support to an employee-led committee that helps allocate smaller donations focusing on WEXers’ passions. Melissa also manages WEX’s community relationships, working with organizations and causes to find natural synergies with the company’s commitment to community.
“One of the things that I love about working at WEX is that the company is very supportive of your life outside of work,” observes Melissa. “Programs like paid parental leave and volunteer paid time off make employees happy holistically and I definitely see that as one of WEX’s strengths.”