Visa's Kim Kadlec: 2017 John A. Reisenbach Foundation Honoree

By Jack Myers Jack Myers Think Tank Archives

Kim Kadlec, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing of Visa, will be honored on December 5th at the annual John A. Reisenbach Foundation event, where Shelley Zalis of The Female Quotient and Girl's Lounge, Scott Hagedorn of Hearts & Science, Tim Castelli of iHeartMedia and former Police Commissioner William J. Bratton will also be honored.  As a long-time supporter and board member of the JAR Foundation, I'm pleased to support the organization and to share my interview with Kim focusing on her connections to New York and to the Reisenbach Foundation.

Jack Myers:  The John A. Reisenbach Foundation works toward building a better and safer New York City.  As someone who is a native New Yorker and who has also spent much of your career working here, what are some of your fondest memories of New York?  What makes New York a great place for you?

Kim Kadlec:  I was born in Jackson Heights, Queens and one of my earliest and fondest childhood memories is taking the bus with my grandparents from Queens to the Central Park Zoo.  I always had a love affair with Manhattan and, growing up in Westchester, I came into the city for Broadway shows and to enjoy all the great opportunities to explore and learn.  I was obsessed with Broadway and was involved in theater and music throughout school.

My husband and I were married at Windows on the World in the World Trade Center, so 9/11 was especially impactful on us.  Watching New York City rise up in the aftermath was an experience I will never forget.  Our memories of Windows on the World are bittersweet -- but mostly sweet.  Our children, were raised in the New York City area, and our daughter, Danielle, who will join me at the JAR event, now works for Turner ad sales.

Jack:  You studied music and marketing at Indiana University.  What led you to follow the marketing path rather than music?

Kim: (Laughing) I had every intention of being another Madonna but chose to be a little more practical.  I was hired for my first job at Backer and Spielvogel by (JAR Board Member) Charlie Rutman to work in the media department on the Hyundai account.  I fell in love with the fast pace.  I loved the people, loved the accounts and loved the work.

Jack:  The theme of making New York better and safer obviously resonates with you, in both your life and work.  You've been a volunteer at New York Cares and active in other non-profit organizations.  Share what has inspired you to be of service and the experiences you've had.

Kim:  I was introduced to New York Cares through a team event while I was working at AOL (as Global Head of Strategic Partnerships).  I was so impressed with the event, which was at a Hell's Kitchen recreational center that was ironically very near where my grandfather was born.  It's an amazing place, offering athletics, arts and crafts, computer skills and music.  We volunteered as an organization and the kids were great and the people who worked there were special people.  I also volunteer with Project Homeless and have connected with the Red Cross since the California wildfires caused so much devastation.  And now a Visa employee, I've been incredibly impressed by the organization's focus on volunteerism and community action.  It's part of the culture here that's really impressive.

Jack:  For the past ten years you've also been on the board of DoSomething, a New York-based non-profit that inspires young people to take action for social good both online and offline.  What has this organization meant to you both personally and professionally?

Kim:  I was originally introduced to DoSomething by (Medialink's) Wenda Millard and was invited to be on the board.  Two of my three children interned there.  It's an amazing organization run by and for Millennials and young people.  They empower young people to literally change the world. As a society we often don't expect enough from young people or empower them.  They're incredibly impressive and when they're empowered and given support they can do incredible things for the world.  

One young girl went on a short trip and was devastated by the number of orphans there.  When she returned, using her babysitting money as capital and through her passion, she returned built an orphanage that is now home to over 100 kids.  It's an amazing story and it's just one of many stories of young people having a positive impact -- on clean water and air initiatives, anti-cyber bullying programs and many more. 

Jack:  You've held some coveted executive roles, including Worldwide Vice President at Johnson & Johnson, top marketing and sales roles at AOL, Fox and NBC.  Of course, you were President at Publicis Group before joining Visa.  With most of your past roles having been New York based, how did working in the media/marketing capital prepare you for what you do today at Visa in San Francisco?

Kim: I've certainly worked for different companies and have had exceptional training. I worked on the Visa account on the agency side and got to know the company. Visa is not a credit card company, we are a payment technology company - - we actually don't issue any credit cards! Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure digital payment network that enables individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. I became really excited about being a part of a company that's creating the future, and working with a team that's creating the future of marketing. By leveraging the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of our worldwide teams, Visa is a better place to work and a better business partner to our clients. I've brought experience from all the companies I've had the privilege of working with and being a part of a team that's leading marketing into a new world was an experience I couldn't refuse.

Jack:  In 2014, you were honored by Brand Innovators as one of the Top 100 Women in Marketing.  How important is it for women and for diversity to be recognized and what are best practices you can share?

Kim:  It's very important to recognize the importance of diversity and celebrate the accomplishments of diverse individuals.  There's been a great deal of progress in our industry and acknowledging this progress sends a terrific signal to both men and women.

One of the main reasons I decided to join Visa is the company's focus on inclusion and diversity.  I've never felt more immersed in a diverse culture, not only gender and culture, but all age groups and different experiences.  It's very inspirational.  Regarding best practices, we have an incredible opportunity to show others what collaborative problem solving can achieve.  It's an important part of large global companies.  Issues today are global, not small and siloed.  Being collaborative problem solvers is an important thing to master.

Jack:  As the Senior Vice President, Global Marketing for Visa what are your priorities? 

Kim:  My role incorporates content, agency management, Visa.com, hospitality and events, research and analytics, marketing, the mar-tech and tech stack and data infusion.  It's an interesting hybrid, bridging the gap between technology, data and creativity.  The mission for the overall team is to enable Visa to be the most impactful data-led marketer in the world.  This encompasses fitting together several moving parts and it's a very interesting and cool space.  Really cool.  We're totally changing the game.

Jack:  One year into your role at Visa, what would you say have been some of your greatest challenges and lessons? 

Kim:  It's interesting to be managing the integration and cross-over between creativity and technology. We're making data actionable in real ways that humans can appreciate and in doing that, we are telling relatable stories. If you look at companies like Uber and Airbnb, they changed the rules of their respective industries in order to create value that didn't exist before. At Visa, we are hoping to create a similar value proposition for our customers, clients and merchant partners – and to do that, we're bringing teams together and finding aha moments and new ways to bring magic to people's lives. That's really gratifying. We're working with great agencies that are bending, flexing, and morphing with us.

Jack: As a member of the JAR board, we are incredibly honored to have you involved with our organization; your impressive background, selflessness and drive is a true inspiration – so thank you.

Kim:  I'm so excited to be honored by the John A. Reisenbach Foundation.  It's such an important organization and a role model for organizations beyond New York.  I'm so honored to be a part of it.

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