Sona Jepsen - Vice President of FIS Global

Create it. Deploy it. Listen to feedback. Revise it. I go through this cycle with speed and efficiency and try to keep emotion out of it.

As vice president and head of consultant relations at FIS Global, Sona Jepsen has created and nurtured relationships with more than 300 consulting firms globally. Through dynamic strategy development, she has been able to drive increased market share for FIS’ products and solutions. As the main point of contact for the consultant community, Sona’s role has served as an opportunity to strategically engage and service the consultant audience.

Sona’s strengths are retaining and fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and hunger within all sizes of teams and organizations. Leveraging this entrepreneurial drive to create, innovate, and differentiate her business has driven her success.

Where did the idea for consultant relations come from?

The concept of consultant relations is established in the investment and insurance industries, but it’s practically unheard of in the financial tech space. Consultant relations grew out of the opportunity to educate consultants about our solutions and products and serve this underserved community.

Consultants are a critical audience and are engaged with our mutual clients and prospects in over 65 percent of deals. Not managing them like a customer channel was a missed opportunity.

Ultimately, we want consultants to shine in front of their clients, so anything we can do to help them deliver value to our mutual clients is up for discussion!

What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?

There is really no typical day for me. It starts very early, and I spend more than half of my time talking to consultants and sales teams about their needs, expectations, deal-specific insights, and making sure the lines of communication are open.

Throughout the day, I use blocks of time to focus on tasks that require thinking, and I don’t check emails or voicemails during that time.

I love what I do, so staying energized and productive is easy! My strongest motivator is the ability to help people and solve problems. I have the words “intelligent persistence, resilience, and empathy” plastered on my wall to remind me of my strengths and differentiators that I leverage in all interactions.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Create it. Deploy it. Listen to feedback. Revise it. I go through this cycle with speed and efficiency and try to keep emotion out of it.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The trend of leveraging technology to improve the daily quality and efficiency of our personal, family, and business lives is exciting!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as a leader?

I use the early mornings to focus on myself, which helps me set intentions for the day, read up on current events, and start the day with a clear mind and a recharged attitude.

I also look at my time, calls, emails, and relationships with a critical eye. I am insanely protective of my time, and I make sure that what I spend my time doing and the people I interact with are in line with my values, my core brand, and my passion.

What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?

My father insisted we work all through high school and college to learn the value of things. My worst job was selling fire extinguishers door-to-door in high-rise apartments. I hated the product I was selling and the rejection, but I learned to be resilient and not take failure personally.

I eventually turned things around. Once I believed in what I was selling, it didn’t feel like sales anymore. Ultimately, the biggest lesson I learned that summer was how much of my success was driven by my own attitude.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would seek out mentors much earlier in life and ask for help. Acknowledging what you don’t know allows help to come into your life from the most unexpected places and people.

As a leader, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Every day, I look at all the initiatives we’re working on and overlay the customer lens on everything I do. I ask myself, “How do our customers see or experience this?” “Does this help them be more competitive?” and “Is it making their lives better, richer, more productive, and more successful?”

It sounds corny, but ultimately, if my clients are successful, I am successful.

What is one strategy that has helped you succeed?

Not fearing failure. It has taken time to learn this and internalize it, but failure is a great teacher. It’s humbling. It’s the universe’s way of telling you to hunker down and look in a different direction. Failure helps you come back stronger.

What is one failure you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?

Working with people who looked great on paper and were driven but not aligned with our values or brand. Years ago, I tried to launch a new business. It took us two years longer than it should have because we had to rebuild a new team that had a common brand and was aligned on values.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Healthcare modernization is an opportunity that’s going to explode. I say modernization to imply healthcare becoming more of a consumer-driven experience. The power will shift from institutions to consumers, and quality will be driven by market forces, not dictated by establishments. It’s going to be exciting to watch!

Tell us something about you that very few people know.

I’ve always been somewhat of a rebel, so in line with that, I ran away to escape an arranged marriage. I also practice muay thai regularly and love it!

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. I love stories about strong characters and their rise out of adversity. It’s still relevant today!

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Most of my clients are entrepreneurs running their own business or practice within a larger organization, so I like to read Small Business Trends, Entrepreneur, and Harvard Business Review.

Connect:

http://www.fisglobal.com/
Sona Jepsen’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/sona-jepsen/3/709/520