Patrick Davie

That Personal Touch
By Karen Rosen, ATLANTA TREND™

Patrick Davie received a solid grounding in business practices as an officer in the United States Army in the early 1990s. Arriving in Mogadishu, Somalia, as a young lieutenant, he coordinated the reception and storage of thousands of vehicles arriving from the U.S. and Europe.

"That was Risk Management 101,” says Patrick, now Vice President, Data and Analytics for Fiserv Risk Management. “Nothing ever goes as planned -- ever. We showed up, and who would have thought it would rain in Somalia? And it rained for three days before we had any of our equipment. We were sleeping in the rain and I've never been so cold. You just learn to figure out: What are we going to do?"

Patrick, a West Point graduate, quickly recognized the importance of having good people around him -- and listening to them.

"You have to be very adaptable," he says. "One of the ways you do that is talking to people who are really down there and doing the hard work. They always have creative ideas. Some of them are workable, some of them aren't, but you can adapt. They're a great seeding ground for new opportunities, to look at things a little differently because they're usually acquainted with some of the details that the leadership isn't. What looks good in a PowerPoint slide, if it looks too good, it's probably not feasible."

Learning to assess situations and make crisp decisions served Patrick well when he left the military with the rank of captain and moved into the business sector.

Throughout his career, he’s proud that he’s frequently been tagged with leading new initiatives, and is seen as someone who can thrive in environments where there's no process.

New Solutions to Identify Deposit Risk 

Fiserv, a company with annual revenues close to $5 billion and 16,000 financial institutions worldwide as clients, is known for providing best in class information management and electronic commerce systems for the financial services industry. Patrick’s unit, Data and Analytics, is part of the Risk Management group and is responsible for building an information services business that is expected to drive $30 million in new revenue over three years. The product line is in the area of deposit risk, which determines if a bank or credit union should establish a new deposit relationship, accept a particular check or process a debit charge. Financial institutions are exposed to billions of dollars in fraud every year. Patrick’s group provides predictive analytics to identify deposit risk by using information about an individual consumer or business’ profile of behavior and statistically measuring the difference of their current to expected behavior.

"The other initiative that I'm responsible for is providing an offering that gives financial institutions the tools they need to manage new account deposit risk," Patrick says.

The deposit risk initiative has gone from Patrick building a case for it and winning approval in May of 2009, to building a team and going through a full software development life cycle. The service will be hosted in a data center, leveraging other Fiserv resources.

"I was brought in to say, ‘Does it make sense? Can we create a solution that will be consumed and will be better than anything they might have today?’" Patrick says. "One of Fiserv's values is making sure that we earn client trust every day. We do that by providing better solutions and service to our customers. This solution, on its face, for almost a $5 billion company, it's not that much revenue, but it's a better solution for our clients than what they have today and that's why we got the green light the do it."

Fiserv, which has 20,000 employees worldwide, serves the financial services industry from the largest bank in the U.S. to small banks and credit unions.

Fiserv is ranked No. 1 on the FinTech 100 survey of top technology partners to the financial services industry, and No. 5 on Chartis Research’s list of the Top 100 companies in the world for its overall suite of products for risk.

"Walking Around Management" 

Fiserv is ranked No. 1 on the FinTech 100 survey of top technology partners to the financial services industry, and No. 5 on Chartis Research’s list of the Top 100 companies in the world for its overall suite of products for risk.

Patrick keeps a short stack of books behind his desk, including "Results That Last: Hardwiring Behaviors That Will Take Your Company to the Top," by Quint Studer. He says he finds many leadership books are "long in length and sometimes pretty short on content." This book resonated with him because he found that some of the things listed as important in managing and interacting with people are concepts he’s followed throughout his career.

"It was nice to see that maybe you're not a knucklehead after all, or making it up as you go," Patrick says with a laugh.

The book reinforced his belief in "walking around management,” which literally means visiting with the people he works with, getting to know them, asking questions and hearing their opinions on their projects."

"I've always walked around, talked with people and tried to establish that personal touch," he says.

That’s harder for Patrick to do now because his team is dispersed across the United States -- from Los Angeles, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to New York City -- but he stays in phone contact and gets the team together for meetings.

Rising Through the Ranks

Teamwork has always been a part of his life. Patrick grew up outside Boston – "a huge Red Sox fan" – and followed his brother to the U.S. Military Academy. Their grandfather had been a general. Although their father, Gerry, was not in the military, he was a self-made man who finished college late in his career. "He sort of embodied the military creed," Patrick says, "hard work, integrity, saying what you're going to do and then doing it, following through. And it just appealed to me, that sense of joining a team."

Patrick was also on the football team, playing inside linebacker for the Black Knights, who lost to Alabama in the Sun Bowl his junior year. Football was a great experience, but came at a cost – four shoulder surgeries, including three total reconstructions. That took him off the combat path and into supply and logistics.

After Patrick met his wife, who had grown up in an Air Force family and didn’t fancy returning to the nomadic life, he left the Army.

His father, who was the No. 2 executive at Sears Credit, introduced him to Equifax’s head of sales for Sears, who helped Patrick get a job at Equifax. "I'm convinced to this day that the individual thought that I know how I'll get Sears' business forever... I'll hire this guy's son!" Patrick says with a laugh.

He moved up rapidly in sales, but knew he was more of a relationship person. Equifax moved him to Atlanta, where he was put on a leadership track and became involved in project management. After 13 years at Equifax, he moved to Fiserv in 2007.

"I think it's because of what I was able to do at Equifax that I got a pretty good background to be able to manage," he says. "Of course, you never arrive, right? I'm still learning."

Patrick just got a Kindle and is a voracious reader, especially biographies of world leaders. Winston Churchill is his favorite. "I'm just interested in the things that they had to contend with and their responses,” he says. “In a way, that's kind of a business book."

Secrets to Success

Knowing that it's OK to ask questions of the people who work for you, work around you or even the managers or leaders above you. Because if you don't ask questions, you're not going to get that decision-grade data.

Walking around, working with people, and getting to know the names of people’s children and where they went to school. People really value that and you can learn a lot. Those are the people who are really making things work for you.

Being willing and able to adapt. Understanding when you're going down a certain path and it isn't working, have enough awareness to say, ‘This isn't working, I need to make a course correction here.’ And figuring how you're going to do that, so don't be hidebound by processes. You don't want to break processes willy-nilly, but sometimes there's a reason. Processes are guidelines.
Hard work, integrity. Knowing when to ask for help.

Understanding you've never arrived. I think you arrive the day you retire. There's always some new challenge, some new opportunity. You're never going to do it right all the time. My brother and I were chatting today, and he said, 'The lessons learned hardest are the lessons learned best.' And it is so true.

Patrick Davie is Vice President, Data and Analytics, Fiserv Risk Management. Atlanta Trend expresses its thanks and deep appreciation to Patrick Davie for sharing his thoughts with us.

1.  Continue to LEARN every day. Great ideas are everywhere. If it’s difficult to recognize new ideas, then perhaps a change of venue, perspective, etc… may help.

2.  Consider how to ADAPT an idea to suit your needs. If this is difficult to think through, then you may want to get some help.

3.  TRY it, test it, and see if it works. Give it a shot. Typically, there is a great deal to gain and little to lose in conducting a pilot or trial.

4.  APPLY successful new processes and procedures to your entire operation.

"ATLANTA TREND™ expresses its thanks and deep appreciation to Patrick Davie for sharing his thoughts with us.


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