Katherine McClure knows what it takes to test and set the limits of safety and security, a skill she has honed in a place she says you’d least expect – the race track. A passionate and experienced race car driver who competes in autocross events hosted by the Sports Car Club of America and BMW Car Club of America, McClure’s time on the track relates uncannily to the work she now does for UL.
“If you think about it, you want to drive fast, but you also want to ensure you’re driving safely,” McClure said. “In the same way, we’re working to ensure that a customer’s payment transaction in today’s world goes through not just quickly, but safely too.”
As a senior sales executive for UL Transaction Security, McClure’s role goes beyond that of the traditional “hunter and gatherer” often associated with sales professionals. Instead, she positions herself, and the UL Transaction Security team, as a trusted partner to clients, helping them to identify challenges within the payments space, implementing strategic solutions to solve these challenges, employing test methods for payment systems such as EMV chip card readers, and, in the process, providing peace of mind for consumers.
“The fact that you go into a store, put a little piece of plastic into a machine, put it back into your wallet and then walk out with the goods you’ve purchased, represents real-life magic to many people,” McClure said. “They might not understand the highly technical process in play to enable this seamless transaction, but at UL, we’re helping to make sure that magic is safer and more secure than ever before.”
Before joining UL in 2016, McClure spent 15 years in the payment industry, starting first in account and project management where she advanced to leadership roles, before moving on to an innovation team where she helped pair start-ups with more established players to bring new concepts to market.
Early in her career, her team at Lynk Systems (now WorldPay) collaborated with Royal Bank of Scotland and Kroger to help bring to market the first open loop Mastercard gift card. While these days picking up a gift card at a grocery store, selecting an amount at the register and purchasing it for use at any retailer seems commonplace, at the time, Mastercard had never pursued the concept due to risk concerns. That is until McClure and her team proved to be the ideal partner to help the payment giant mitigate the security risks and move what they first saw as “a crazy idea” to shelves in a short period of time.
“There’s a million products on a million shelves out there, but I can point to this one and go, ‘I was part of the team that made this happen,’” McClure noted. “That’s one of my proudest professional accomplishments, and one that helped define my career in payments.”
While keeping pace with the payments space, or even ahead of the curve, comes second nature to her now, her journey to helping engineer solutions for a safer world didn’t come from a predictable track. She earned a history degree from the University of Houston, which she says only reaffirms that you don’t need to have a technical degree to pursue a career in a technical field.
“My collegiate focus taught me a lot about relationships and people as well as cause and effect – invaluable lessons I’ve carried through all stages of my professional career,” McClure added.
Moreover, post-graduation, she worked in the retail industry, which also gave her two transferrable skills that she uses in her work at UL today: an understanding of how people interact with goods and services and empathy for the customer at the end of the payments cycle.
McClure’s schedule runs as fast paced as the cars she races in her spare time, fielding media inquiries and speaking engagements around the globe in addition to her work with clients – a variety that only fuels her love for working at UL that much more. Every day might be different, but no matter, she cherishes her role at the forefront of everything that’s involved with evolving payments.
“Innovation – as well as the ability to change and adapt to meet that innovation – has always been close to my heart,” concluded McClure. “Anything that I can do to help our clients navigate these changes and achieve success while still living up to the UL mission, that’s what gets me up out of bed every day.”
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