Women in Business: Kristin McClement, VP of Strategic Partnerships, Payfone

05/18/2015 04:38 am ET | Updated May 17, 2016

Kristin McClement is responsible for the customer experience, driving the customer perspective throughout Payfone. Prior to this role, She served as Director of Product Management at Payfone, Inc. Ms. McClement was responsible for the product planning and execution throughout the product lifecycle. Prior to Payfone, she was a key technical member of initial launch of Peek. At Peek she led both network and IT integrations and was responsible for delivering the back-end billing and CRM systems. Ms. McClement has also worked for major mobile operators and vendors in Canada and the Caribbean. In the Caribbean, she was responsible for the rollout of all Value Added Services (VAS), products, promotions and services including for three new Digicel operations in Guyana, El Salvador and Suriname. In Canada, she worked at TELUS where she was responsible for the overall product development and implementation of TELUS's Commercial LBS service including two flagship services. She started her career at Redknee, a IN and billing vendor where she was responsible for the product development and management of several key products including on-site deployments, customer consulting and training support in Europe and the Caribbean. Ms. McClement has an Honours Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Electrical Engineering Co-operative Program from the University of Waterloo.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I learned early on that the most important skill to have is the ability to learn. My parents were entrepreneurs who ran their own business for 35 years. I was fortunate to grow up with that spirit, knowing that I could do anything if I constantly challenged myself, absorbing the successes and failures from each experience.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Payfone?
Building out mobile networks in a number of developing countries gave me an early appreciation for the power of mobile technology. I saw remarkable changes to the economies where we brought cell phone service to those who never had the opportunity to access it before. What we viewed as a means of convenience in North America was a tool that unlocked communication and commerce in ways I had never imagined. Starting at Payfone with that point of view and technical knowhow has been an invaluable asset.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Payfone?
Scaling a business between Tier 1 Financial Institutions and Tier 1 Mobile Network Operators takes years to get right, but there are rewards for this effort. This week Payfone will host its second summit where decision makers from the largest Financial Institutions and Mobile Network Operators in the world will sit down in one room to focus on one topic: protecting the mobile consumer.

It's such a rare opportunity to have these types of minds in one room. Being a part of the company that brought these two groups together, working together, solving real market problems together has been a great achievement for myself and our team.

However, we all know success wouldn't be the same without the obstacles that come along the way. Having these large institutions relying on our technology challenges us to balance our ability to be nimble and innovative given the maturity and processes that are required to work with intuitions that touches nearly everyone in the U.S.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
Quite simply -- if you don't ask for it, you won't get it. I'll never forget being so proud of my first job out of school only to find out my colleague, who started in the same role, on the same day, with the same degree, was making significantly more than me. When I asked him why, he told me he negotiated for a higher salary because he thought he deserved it and was perplexed as to why I didn't do the same. I always encourage woman to ask for what they deserve and to never back down.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
It doesn't matter how right or smart you are -- you need to build trust and strong relationships if you are going to be successful. You cannot do it alone.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Moving to Denver has been a big part of finding true balance in my life. I'm fortunate to have a front row view to the mountains and tranquility every day I walk into work. And being surrounded by nature everywhere I go is a saving grace for me because I can maintain an active lifestyle the minute I leave the office. Running has been my sanity since I can remember. It is how I deal with stress, how I am able to stay grounded and keep perspective on life. There are very few days I can't find 45 minutes to block out to run or exercise.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I would say that we are our own worst enemies, as we feel like we don't deserve the same level of success. Even when we realize that we do, we are still working twice as hard to prove ourselves. Although social norms are shifting, we are still part of a generation that grew up with certain expectations that are hard to shake.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I haven't really had one particular mentor in my life but I've had a lot of help along the way. I think it's important to seek out leaders who you respect and can learn from throughout your life. At Payfone, I'm fortunate to work with a CEO that has cumulated over 20 years' experience working in mobile that provides invaluable guidance everyday.

But, the work place isn't the only place to find a mentor. In University, I was fortunate enough to meet three phenomenal strong, talented and smart women. We have created strong bonds and friendships over the past 15+ years. Even though we live in different countries, time zones and worlds, we have regular conference calls to help each other navigate through our professional and personal lives.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Sheryl Sandberg, not only for what she has accomplished but also for her refreshing take on women in the workplace. My favorite quote of hers - "In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders."

What do you want Payfone to accomplish in the next year?
I couldn't be more proud of what our team has accomplished in the past year, and we've really set the bar high for 2015. I want Payfone's Identity Certainty to be synonymous with secure, frictionless mobile experiences much in the way that FedEx is synonymous with shipping. While achieving this kind of ubiquity is ambitious, I am confident that Identity Certainty will become a necessary part of the everyday vocabulary as we depend on mobile more and more.