Executive Profile: One on One with Rick Fletcher, SVS
An avid but long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan, Rick Fletcher knows the meaning of passion and persistence—two qualities that have served him well on his path to professional success.
The 34-year-old senior vice president of global marketing for Ceridian Stored Value Solutions (SVS) acknowledges that he’s progressed professionally “at a pretty swift pace” but admits to his share of failures. “You have to learn to fail fast and move on quickly,” Fletcher says.
In his role with SVS, a pioneer in the gift card industry, Fletcher is responsible for promoting all of the company’s products—closed-loop and general purpose prepaid (open-loop MasterCard products provided through sister company Comdata)—as well as managing relationships with third-party strategy partners. In 2002, with 10 years in the industry, SVS became a global player, processing from more than 45 countries, including the U.K., Germany, France, Australia and China.
From Golf to Consulting to Prepaid
Fletcher’s role as a game manager began with a summer job selling promotional packages for golf courses in his native Cleveland. Sporting a long-sleeved shirt, tie and shorts, the 18-year-old “sprinted from door to door,” Fletcher says, selling tee times. In just three weeks, Fletcher was given management responsibilities for 10 other salespeople. That summer’s income, if annualized, would have amounted to a $150,000 salary, he recalls.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in business at Miami University of Ohio, Fletcher worked in real estate operations management and strategy consulting for Deloitte.
“Consulting is a great place to start a career,” he says. “You learn skills—analytics, writing, how to run a meeting.” But “every year was like two years in terms of development,” he says of his time with Deloitte. “I was 23 years old and purchasing hundreds of thousands of dollars in janitorial, and heating and cooling services, but put me in front of an actual chiller, and I wouldn’t have known what it was.”
Seeking a new direction, Fletcher took time off the career gridiron to earn his master’s in business administration at Northwestern University.
“At Kellogg [School of Management], I really learned to think about business as a way to meet people’s needs and steward resources in an appropriate, profitable way,” he says.
“With an advanced degree in marketing, I thought I would go into brand management,” he continues. And he did … briefly.
|IN HIS OWN WORDSWhere do you see growth opportunities for prepaid?
1) Prepaid used as a payment mechanism; 2) as a product; 3) as a very powerful marketing tool. As a product, prepaid solves problems for people. That is inherent in what it is, and that is going to grow. For example, payroll cards eliminate a lot of costs for employers. Management is efficient and simple, and cards are more environmentally friendly. For employees, there’s a lower cost and they are easier to use. It’s a win-win that’s going to drive a huge amount of growth.
Response to promotions with a digital gift card, physical gift card, social network marketing or undisclosed value on a gift card is disproportionate [to response to traditional promotions]—[it is] way more effective than a coupon for 10 percent off. [Prepaid cards] drive curiosity and people into stores.
What has been or will be the biggest innovation in prepaid?
This industry is very oriented in payments—the facilitation of transactions—but it’s much larger. A trend we’ve seen will continue—more creative promotions, coupling gift cards with other promotions. Innovation is going to be hugely important to our industry. Growth tomorrow will look different than growth today.
What is your life like outside of the office?
I have a 3½-year-old daughter, a 1½-year-old son and a beautiful wife who’s far more intelligent and talented than I am and a professional as well. The busyness that comes from young children doesn’t leave much time for anything but family.
In 2006, Fletcher transitioned to a position as a marketing and strategy leader in commercial leasing at GE Capital in Minneapolis, picking up management and resource coordination skills.
In 2009, with the financial crisis looming, Fletcher decided that [commercial leasing] had shifted for the long term. “I wanted to do something still in B2B, but less about industry and a lot more functional.”
Through Cerdian connections he met while with GE, Fletcher moved to a new team—with Ceridian Stored Value Solutions based in Louisville, Ky.
Now Fletcher is the ultimate dual-threat quarterback—driving new opportunities as an offensive strategy and presenting a formidable opponent to the competition, which cannot overcome one SVS strength (its formidable client roster, for example) to the exclusion of the others—technical expertise, reporting tools and fraud/verification services, he says.
A Global Enterprise
SVS uses its extensive and strategically placed global operations to support clients on their home turf, including some of today’s best-known retail brands. Many of its marquee household-name clients do business worldwide, and SVS’s presence in 45 countries, support in 26 languages and transaction processing in 26 currencies sets the stage for a global partnership. “I truly believe we are leading the charge relative to our competition,” he says. “We’ve changed the resource mix,” Fletcher explains. “We were leveraging operations in the United States to service international clients. Now it’s the other way around. We offer a full-service model in dozens of geographies, with localized support. Clients get a broader set of services because of our dedication and focus.
“I’m proudest of what I’ve done at SVS,” Fletcher adds, looking over his career. “The nature of my role is always shifting by business needs. You need a very broad skill set in this job. It’s really about leadership—stewarding, leading leadership.”
During his tenure in global marketing, “we’ve doubled down on our [international] investments, and then doubled down again,” he says.
“SVS has invested well and developed new products—like our dynamic promotions product, Mobile Loyalty App and Virtual Terminal—to increase profit,” Fletcher says. “We’ve added billions of dollars in value to clients’ bottom lines and protected our industry market leadership position by improving the way we serve clients—through a consultative approach to account management. Our customer satisfaction scores through Net Promoter are at the ‘outstanding/world-class’ level,” he continues. “The most exciting part of my role is our potential as a company. We play in a space that is growing. There aren’t a ton of markets out there that have as much natural potential as prepaid,” Fletcher says.
“The most challenging [part] for us is being able to prioritize so many great opportunities—to maximize the critical few rather than sub-optimize the many.”