Meet the People Behind WEX

WEX
Melissa Smith

Melissa Smith
President and CEO

Melissa began with WEX in 1997 as a senior financial analyst for the global corporate payments company. She worked her way through numerous roles, including CFO and president of the Americas, and now holds its most senior position. Melissa led the company’s IPO in 2005 and has continued to spearhead WEX’s dramatic growth, both organically and through acquisitions.

Born and raised in Maine, Melissa was recognized as Mainebiz’s 2012 Woman to Watch and 2017 Business Leader of the Year. She won the tribute to Women in Industry Award from the Maine Women’s Fund in 2015. She was also named PYMNTS.com’s Most Innovative Woman in Payments in 2014 and PaymentsSource’s Most Influential Woman in Payments in 2014.

She participates in extensive non-profit work, including co-founding the Executive Women’s Forum as well as sponsoring and participating in Tri for a Cure. In 2010, Melissa co-founded sheJAMS, an all-women training club that allows women to train together in a non-competitive spirit. Additionally, Melissa serves on the Maine Health Board of Directors, Dead River Company Board of Directors and is a former board member of the Center for Grieving Children. Melissa earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Maine.

What are professional accomplishments you’re most proud of?

For me, it’s all about the people. I take the most satisfaction in creating and maintaining a great corporate environment in the midst of all our growth. I want to continue to make WEX a place where people really enjoy their work and are encouraged to grow and succeed.

Why have you decided to stay at WEX for so long?

Standing still is not in our DNA and that fits with who I am. When we went public and I was the CFO, the company’s market cap was $720M. Today, it is $4.45B. We’ve gone from being in one product primarily in the U.S. to a much more diverse enterprise with global operations.

What impact does your work have, beyond just WEX?

My responsibility is to use the platform I have as CEO to help foster growth in communities. Our employees give time, we give money, and we are creating an environment where people don’t just care about one another, but also about making sure the place we live in is thriving. That gives us all a sense of purpose.

How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization?

Be incredibly open to people telling you that you’re wrong – which happens to me with some frequency – then move from that point into something that may be even better.

What role models did you look to when developing your leadership skills and style?

My mother was my first role model; she had a career, as did my grandmother before her. I come from a long line of strong women, and my mom taught me to be willing to try. She felt strongly that women should be able to support themselves and is a huge advocate for the importance of education. I think the key is to form a relationship with those you can learn from. Be willing to share and seek advice.

David Cooper

David Cooper
Chief Technology Officer

David joined WEX in 2016, bringing to the company his 30 years of experience delivering award-winning software products across a broad spectrum of uses including turnkey systems, enterprise software, software as a service (SAAS), web and mobile products. Prior to joining WEX, he held several senior technology positions, including head of global operations at GlobeOne, SVP of technology at Green Dot, and CTO and SVP of product development at both Fiserv and CashEdge.

He has secured a patent for streaming geometry in a virtual environment and has several patents pending around payments. Originally from Scotland, David holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and microprocessor systems from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

What brought you to WEX?

I followed WEX for a long time from an investment perspective and was thrilled when I had the opportunity to apply for the CTO position. When I first talked to Melissa Smith about it, she noted that technology is the future of the company. So the combination of liking the company and being responsible for technology, a key feature of corporate growth, made this an exciting opportunity.

What are your personal passions outside of work and family?

I have a young (and growing) family, so I spend a lot of time with them. I also meditate—I’ve even been on silent retreats – which I find to be both relaxing and stimulating, and generally enjoy outdoor activities including spending as much time as possible sailing in the summer and skiing in the winter.

How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your teams?

So many ways to foster innovative thinking, I think cross-functional teams are critical, as is an open dialogue. In my opinion, all ideas are equal, at least at the beginning, then you discuss and refine them.

What is a motto that sums up your work philosophy?

The motto that best sums up my work philosophy is “communicate and then communicate again.” When there are major breakdowns, often the root of that is in lack of communication so regardless of the project or discipline a focus on communication is a huge value.

George Hogan

George Hogan
Senior Vice President, International

George joined WEX in 2007, starting as chief information officer. In 2012, he oversaw the integration of WEX Fleet One, which led to his appointment as the company’s senior vice president and general manager of fleet over-the-road and partner channels. George is now focused on enabling WEX’s growth strategy through international expansion and strategic relationships across Europe, Asia and Latin America.

He has more than 30 years of experience, having previously worked at Visa and having held senior IT and engineering positions at Union Mutual, Security Life of Denver and Unum. He recently served on the Project>Login Advisory Committee, which is Maine’s leading resource for those interested in the computing and IT fields.

George earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and psychology from Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a master’s degree in international business from Boston University.

What gets you excited about the work you’re doing?

What excites me about WEX is that we’re a growth company, which is much more fun to work for than a cost-cutting company. I like forging new ground and taking our products to places we would have never thought about. Also, I like to win. We’re taking out the competition in many countries and we’re doing so because we have superior technology and we’re delivering results for our customers. That’s a fun thing for me.

How do you stay on top of news and trends?

I try to spend more time understanding the socio-economic conditions of the regions we’re in, like Brazil, and use that news as a leverage point to ask for more information – how will this affect our business there? This is a new area that I’ve been trying to spend some time in.

What are your personal passions outside of work and family?

I’m pretty into health these days. I do a lot of hot yoga. When I’m home, I’ll go about four times a week. But I travel often, usually about two to three weeks out of the month.

How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization?

Creativity and innovation should come from any place in the company. When it doesn’t happen, it’s often because people don’t think they’re allowed to share their ideas. Executives should work to create a framework to remove these constraints, because once they’re removed, people will think differently. Recently, I took a new team seven miles off the coast of Maine and we hung out on an island for three days. We had to rappel down rocks to get food and sleep on boats. It was actually a mechanism for creativity and innovation.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

It’s important to love what you do because most of your hours are going to be at work. Make sure you like it, be passionate about it.

What are you most interested in seeing in terms of business growth for WEX in 2017?

What I’m interested in are the synergies between all the businesses—I want 2017 to be the year that we globalize a lot of our products so we’re leveraging them across the world. I think that’s where the power will be: cross selling more products to strengthen and expand our customer relationships.

Ken Janosick

Ken Janosick
Senior Vice President and General Manager, North American Fleet

Ken joined the WEX team in 2009 as Vice President of Small Business Solutions and was later promoted to his current role, through which he oversees WEX’s North American Partner and Direct businesses. He contributes valuable insights to the company’s strategic expansion efforts, bringing more than 25 years of experience to the company. Prior to joining WEX, he spent 17 years at JPMorgan Chase, where his responsibilities included developing and driving the product growth strategy for the small business and mass affluent consumer segments.

Ken earned a bachelor’s degree from The State University of New York at Stony Brook as well as a Masters of Business Administration degree from Pennsylvania State University. He is a member of the Association of Financial Professionals.

What brought you to WEX?

After the financial crisis, I was looking at other opportunities in the payment industry and really wanted a better work-life balance. A friend told me about WEX, and when I looked at the company, I realized it was incredibly customer-focused company, poised for huge growth, and a place where I felt I could my experience and background could really make an impact.

How do you stay on top of news and trends?

I do so much reading it’s incredible – everything from payments and fleet magazines to books on blockchain. The payments industry is undergoing so much change; it is a very exciting time to compete in this space. I also enjoy going to conferences and interfacing with other players in the industry and our customers to get their insights on what’s coming down the pipeline. I find our customers have some very unique insights into the marketplace and how their businesses will be impacted.

What are your personal passions outside of work and family?

I’m really into American history. I think there’s a lot to learn from history on a number of fronts, from personal to business, etc. If I’m ever in a certain state, I’ll look for historic sites to visit. I’ve visited a lot of Civil War battle sites. It’s definitely one of my passions.

How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization?

You need to bring the right people into the discussion. Bring in really curious people from diverse backgrounds who are going to ask, “Why, why, why?” I also think it is paramount to really understand your customer base, and deeply probe for what problems are they trying to solve? When you look back at some companies that were successful and struggling now, it’s amazing how many of them lost focus on their customers.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Be bold and take more risks. It’s too easy in life to get into your own comfort zone.

Nicola Morris

Nicola Morris
Senior Vice President, Corporate Development

A member of the WEX team since 2014, Nicola leads the corporate development team and is responsible for corporate strategy, M&A, marketing and new business ventures. Prior to joining WEX, Nicola worked at Verizon Communications, where she was focused on new business opportunities, identifying M&A targets and creating communications related to Verizon’s growth strategy. Nicola has also previously worked at Digex, Iridium and for the U.S. government.

She currently serves as a trustee on the Portland Symphony Orchestra Board and as a director on the Center for Grieving Children’s Board. She received bachelor’s degrees in economics and Chinese language from Wellesley College and a master’s in international affairs from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

What are professional accomplishments you’re most proud of?

When I joined WEX, there were some really great projects going on, but it was hard to make heads or tails of how it fit into our overall story. What was missing was a framework that enabled the entire staff to think about the “what’s next” of our business; to get us thinking past the next two years and truly into the future, five years and beyond.

It feels great to say that now, 78 percent of employees said they totally understood framework and where they fit in-that’s an incredible percentage of folks who understand and are on board with our mission.

What gets you excited about what you’re doing?

I’m a little bit of a geek deep down inside (or maybe not so deep down). I love the changes that technology, business models and demographics are bringing about and how those factors will impact our lives. I see huge opportunities and big threats on the horizon for us as a company. And for me, opportunities and threats are two sides of the same coin, it just depends what you do with them.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be more confident.

How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization?

As much as possible, give people the time and motivation to be creative. Try not to say no.

Scott Phillips

Scott Phillips
Senior Vice President and General Manager

Scott joined WEX in 2016 when the company acquired EFS. He contributes more than two decades of senior executive experience to this role, in which he is responsible for expanding the company’s over-the-road and corporate payments business. He joined EFS in 2011 as President and CEO, transforming the company through M&A and massive organic growth driving the company’s earnings which led to a successful sale of EFS in to WEX where he now runs our EFS division.

Prior to WEX and EFS, Scott spent 18 years at Comdata Corporation, where he served as executive vice president and general manager of corporate payments and Pegasus TransTech, where he focused on business development. Scott has a bachelor’s degree from Providence College.

What are some professional accomplishments and highlights of your career thus far?

Clearly the biggest highlight of my career was as Chief Executive Officer of EFS, where I helped create a company with the right culture, management team and set of solutions for our Industry that will drive long term sustainable growth.

From an accomplishment standpoint, it would be two-fold, first, the multiple mergers, acquisitions and integrations into EFS and obviously the second would be the multiple successful sales of the company.

What gets you excited about what you’re doing?

I’m continuing to be in this industry after more than 25 years because I love doing this. It’s a combination of working with great employees, interacting with customers to solve their big challenges and being a disrupter in a market to drive new payment innovation.

What are your personal passions outside of work?

Family, golf, skiing. In that order.

How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization?

I always ask customers: “How are you doing things today and how would you like to do them in an ideal environment?”” It all starts with our customers: we identify pain points and come up with new processes to address age-old problems. So many people have failed because they had great ideas but never tested them, so we do our product development in conjunction with our largest customers.

What is a motto that sums up your work philosophy?

Don’t just state your values, live and abide by them at all times. Integrity is of the utmost importance and you can’t “sort of” have integrity – you have to be all in and it’s woven throughout everything you do.

Jim Pratt

Jim Pratt
Senior Vice President and General Manager, Virtual Payments

Jim joined WEX in 1998 and has been instrumental in growing its virtual payments offering to have a multi-industry, global presence, now making up a quarter of the company’s revenue. Jim has more than three decades of experience in information technology and the payments industry. Jim has a passion for affecting change through innovation and pushing the boundaries of technology to simplify service. Prior to joining WEX, he spent 10 years with Digital Equipment Corporation in various sales and management positions and spent several years consulting in the technology sector.

He serves on the MasterCard Advisory Board and the Commercial Payments International Global Advisory Board. He also serves on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine. He received his bachelor’s degree from Bates College.

What brought you to WEX?

It was surprising to find a company with such a passion for innovation and potential for growth based in Portland, Maine. Yet, it’s the perfect place to find people who value relationships and community – two of our core values – and come together with the spirit and talent of a Silicon Valley start-up. The feeling of potential was, and continues to be, irresistible.

What are some professional accomplishments you’re most proud of?

I’m proud to have been at the forefront of WEX’s evolution into a global company. I had the privilege of assembling diverse minds and cutting edge technologies to revolutionize the travel payments industry. Seventeen years later, I’m forging new partnerships and fostering global collaboration so our team can translate our growth across multiple industries and geographies.

What gets you excited about the work you’re doing?

There’s always the question, “What’s next?” This team is continually coming up with new ideas and innovations to shake up the payments industry. We were fintech before fintech existed and show no signs of slowing down.

How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization?

As Nietzsche said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” It isn’t just taking advantage of the quiet, meditative moments but looking at things from a new perspective. We have a team with diverse backgrounds, both personal and professional, and giving them the opportunity to come together, to share their ideas and feel they are being heard and respected is key. For example, at our most recent global meeting, we assembled teams from different departments and geographies to participate in a Shark Tank-style competition for our next innovation. The winning team’s proposal is going to be put through our innovation lab from market research to prototype.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

The reality is you will spend a lot of your life at work. If you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing and excited about the people you work with, make a plan to move on – whether that’s creating a new opportunity in the same company, finding a new company or embarking on an entirely new career path. Waiting for things to get better, not taking action, only delays the inevitable, and no amount of money is worth the time you will waste. Thankfully, I learned this at a relatively young age.

Hilary Rapkin

Hilary Rapkin
Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary

Hilary has been with the company for more than two decades. She is currently responsible for overseeing WEX’s global legal, regulatory compliance, government affairs and corporate philanthropy functions. She manages local counsel in Europe, Asia-Pacific and South America, in addition to the in-house counsel at the company’s Maine headquarters.

During her time at WEX, Hilary was named the company’s first general counsel; she helped create WEX Bank; and led the legal team in launching the company’s initial public offering.

Hilary is a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel, the National Association of Corporate Directors, the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals, and the Society for Human Resource Management. She began her career at Bennett & Associates and graduated from Bowdoin College and the University of Maine’s School of Law.

What brought you to WEX?

I’ve been here for about 21 years, so it’s a long story—I went to law school and was working as a lawyer in Portland, and came to WEX because I decided that I was looking for something more relationship-oriented. WEX ended up hiring me as its first lawyer on staff in 1996 and I developed the legal function and recently added corporate philanthropy to my responsibilities, which I’m extremely passionate about. During my tenure at the company, I’ve had the opportunity to develop my skill set through a variety of roles and functions, which has kept me happy, challenged and engaged.

It’s been great to lead WEX’s corporate philanthropy and social responsibility initiatives. We are so embedded in the local Maine community and neighboring areas, so we live and breathe the impact of this work. Every year the company donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund education, the arts and wellness initiatives. I’m now working to globalize these initiatives and make even more meaningful connections throughout the community. I’m also focused on getting more employees engaged in these efforts: last year we announced two paid days off to support volunteer work, and that we will match philanthropic gifts made by employees at the total amount of $100 per employee, per year.

What are some professional accomplishments and highlights of your career thus far?

Hands down the IPO. I was eight months pregnant at the time and it was intense to gear up for such a major event – it was a real all-hands-on-deck effort, as you can imagine. My boss, Melissa Smith, had total faith in me and it helped push me to the finish line; we worked as a team and powered through. When we rang the bell at the NYSE that morning, it was such a proud moment. I still get emotional thinking about it.

How do you stay on top of news and trends?

I’m a lawyer, so I read a lot. But my secret weapon is my assistant Faith; she organizes articles on my iPad for me to read when I’m traveling.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I’ve had an amazing career here and my growth at the company has been coincident with my personal growth: I got married here, bought my house here and had my babies here. What I would tell my younger self is to slow down a bit and appreciate the journey more. I move at a fast pace and what I tell a lot of women is to forgive yourself, don’t try to be perfect.

Roberto Simon

Roberto Simon
Chief Financial Officer

Roberto joined the WEX team in 2016, bringing his vast global experience to Portland, Maine. For the past 15 years, Roberto held financial leadership roles, managing organic and M&A business growth across the Americas, Europe and Africa. He moved to the U.S. in 2007 and grew from financial analyst to CFO of a company that was sold to Revlon, Inc. He was later promoted to CFO of Revlon, overseeing its global finance and IT operations.

Originally from Spain, Roberto speaks five languages (English, Spanish, Italian, Catalan and French) and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Barcelona in Spain, as well as a master’s degree in business administration from ESADE Business School in Barcelona.

What gets you excited about the work you’re doing?

Some people like a routine, but that’s not me. I love multitasking – it helps keeps my brain engaged switching from one project to another, whether it’s quarterly closings, acquisitions or board presentations.

How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization?

I like to think in extremes and challenge the team that way. Extreme positive and extreme negative situations help people open their minds to a wide range of possibilities and plan accordingly.

What is a motto that sums up your work philosophy?

Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you. This links with another key motto of mine: you can learn just as much about “what not to do” from people as you can learn “what you should do”.

What else would you like people to know about you?

I like experiencing diversity and learning from people from different countries and backgrounds. I’ve lived everywhere from South Africa to Denver and many places in between. As long as I have good work and a happy family, I can live anywhere in the world.

Jeff Young

Jeff Young
Senior Vice President and General Manager, WEX Health

Jeff joined WEX in 2014 when the company acquired Evolution1 to expand its healthcare payments business. He spearheads the company’s efforts to simplify the business of consumer-driven healthcare and is responsible for WEX’s growing healthcare business, with a focus on industry-leading technology and a strong partner network. Before joining Evolution 1 as CEO and chairman in 2008, Jeff was the vice president of business applications at Microsoft Corporation in the U.S., and prior to that, he held senior leadership positions at Great Plains Software, helping lead Great Plains through its successful IPO and eventual sale to Microsoft for more than $1 billion. A graduate of the University of Jamestown (N.D.), Jeff serves on the boards of Bell Bank in Fargo and West Fargo (N.D.) Baseball.

How do you stay on top of industry news and trends?

Our partners’ innovation, knowledge, and energy keep me on top of my game. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with the best third-party administrators, health plans, financial institutions, exchange Partners, and payroll providers in the industry.

What makes a good partner?

A good partner is one who wants to align with a technology platform that helps them deliver on a shared mission to simplify the business of healthcare, grow in the market, and most importantly, make a positive difference for the employers and consumers they serve.

How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization?

We couldn’t do what we do without a team deeply committed to our mission. We recognize their excellence, hard work, determination, and dedication through three quarterly recognition events, an annual recognition event, and more.

What is a motto that sums up your work philosophy?

I’ve long admired coach John Wooden, and I live by his belief of making practices harder than games. Whether it’s preparing for a presentation, a software release, or our annual partner conference, preparation makes the opportunity for success so much higher.

Where are you based?

I’m based in West Fargo, North Dakota, sister city to Fargo.

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