TSYS hires banking veteran Pamela Joseph as its first-ever female president and chief operating officer

Pamela Joseph, who becomes TSYS president and chief operating officer May 1
Pamela Joseph, who becomes TSYS president and chief operating officer May 1

TSYS said Wednesday it is hiring banking industry veteran Pamela Joseph, who retired from Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp last June, as its president and chief operating officer. She also becomes a member of its board of directors immediately.

When she starts May 1, Joseph, 57, will become the highest-ranking woman ever at the Columbus-based credit-card and payments processor, which does business around the world.

When she becomes president, Joseph will take the title and duties held by Troy Woods, TSYS chairman and chief executive officer, who also retained the position of president and COO after being promoted to CEO in August 2014 upon the retirement of longtime top executive Phil Tomlinson. He assumed the chairman of the board role from Tomlinson in April 2015.

“With the addition of Patty Watson and now with myself, I think Total (System Services) is really making a statement about the opportunity at the company for women,” Joseph said in a phone interview from Atlanta, where she resides. “I’ve done a lot of work to help women in leadership, and I expect to do more of that at TSYS as well.”

TSYS hired Watson as senior executive vice president and chief information officer last September. She joined the local firm from The Brinks Company in Texas, working with Bank of America prior to that.

Joseph said she has known both Woods and Tomlinson for more than 20 years, having done business with TSYS. She said the company is well known for its “best in class technology platforms and a blue chip customer roster.”

“It’s a great culture, a very trusted and ethical company and I’m very excited about having the opportunity to join them,” said Joseph, confiding she spent the last 10 months of her retirement traveling and spending lots of time with family. But, she said of cutting short that retirement, the TSYS job “was just an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”

As chief operating officer and second in command at TSYS, Joseph will be in charge of ongoing operations at the company. As CEO, Woods is the top decision-maker responsible for developing strategies for growing the firm’s business and satisfying its customers, which include banks, retailers and merchants that equipment and services to handle consumer transactions.

“We are delighted that Pam will be joining our executive team as President and COO and is the newest member of our board of directors,” Woods said in a statement. “She is immensely respected within the payments industry and has a deep familiarity with our company from years of working together which are tremendous assets as we strive to deliver people-centered innovation in this rapidly evolving payments industry.”

Joseph, accustomed to juggling duties, had served as vice chairman of U.S. Bancorp’s payment services division since 2004. At the same time, she was chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based Elavon, a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp that processes card transactions for merchants globally. Before that, she worked with Visa International and Wells Fargo Bank.

The incoming TSYS president has been honored by Payments Source, which placed her among the “Most Influential Women in Payments.” American Banker also listed her as one of the “Most Powerful Women in Banking.”

Outside of her corporate duties, she sits on the boards of directors of TransUnion, Paychex and Centene Corp. She is on Spelman College’s board of trustees. She also is chairwoman of Women Leaders in Action, a nonprofit organization with the mission of educating young women in Africa.

Joseph’s addition to TSYS top management comes with the company on a steady growth curve. The processor racked up a profit of $364 million in 2015 on total revenues of $2.8 billion.

The Columbus company in January also unveiled the largest acquisition in its history, the $2.35 billion purchase of Hauppauge, N.Y.-based TransFirst, a privately owned firm that serves merchants across the U.S. The deal easily surpasses the previous largest purchase by TSYS — the $1.4 billion acquisition of Austin, Texas-based NetSpend, a company that markets and sells prepaid cards, often for those with no bank accounts.

“Frankly, I think the company has a lot of growth potential, as well as the opportunity to do more in a partnership and an innovation space,” Joseph said. “Those are the areas that Troy and I talked about specifically, especially with all the movement now to mobile. As you know, technology continues to change and advance, so it’s just working closely with Patty to make sure we’re out in front on behalf of our customers.”

Joseph said she will continue to live in Atlanta, where her son is still finishing high school. But, she said, a “good amount” of her time will be in Columbus, which she called “beautiful” with its presence along the Chattahoochee River.

“I think it’s starting to become quite a metropolis,” she said of the city.

TSYS has a workforce of about 10,500 worldwide, with about 4,800 of those employed in Columbus. TransFirst, which has about 1,000 workers, would add to that total.