Monica Eaton-Cardone is the Co-Founder and COO of Chargebacks911. This risk mitigation firm protects more than 2 billion transactions annually to help online merchants optimize profitability through dispute management. Chargebacks911 is headquartered in the Tampa Bay area, with offices in North America and Europe. Monica has more than two decades of experience in the fields of eCommerce, payments, fintech, and fraud prevention.
What does leadership mean to you?
I think you can boil it down to the way you inspire and enable people around you to succeed, and instill confidence and trust in those who follow you. As a leader, you need to encourage people to do their best. Beyond that, though, you must also provide them with the right tools to excel in their position. It’s not a matter of telling people what to do; instead, you empower them to learn and self-actualize so they know what they need to do and can take action without direct oversight and management.
You overcame many challenges on your path to success such as working your way through college and founding a financial technology company. What leadership lessons did these experiences teach you?
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is how to adapt to the unpredictable nature of life.
I pride myself in always having a plan, but there are certain unexpected situations that can throw a wrench into the process and disrupt everything.
It can be easy to find an excuse for why you can’t accomplish something, but I’ve learned that all worthwhile goals require sacrifice and resilience in the face of unforeseen challenges.
Take the creation of Chargebacks911, for instance. I didn’t set out to build a career in the payments industry; I was an eCommerce merchant. A problem surfaced (chargebacks), and instead of giving in, I adapted and developed a strategy to rise to the challenge.
In the process, I identified a new opportunity that never would have presented itself if I wasn’t determined to adapt and thrive.
Women are underrepresented in the financial and technology sectors in Israel and around the world. What would you say to aspire female leaders in these fields?
It sounds cliché, but my first piece of advice would be to tell them not to give up. You have to fight every day for your voice to be heard, and believe that you have something important to say. I think a big part of taking that stand is for women to be more proactive about touting their accomplishments and contributions. We need to promote ourselves, in effect, to really address the wide gender disparity in finance and technology. We also need to put work into building networks of women in these fields who can position themselves as leaders, and mentor the next generation. Those networks already exist for our male counterparts, but we need to build them for ourselves as well.
You founded Paid for Grades to teach essential life skills such as study skills, workplace etiquette, and resume writing. What inspired you to establish this program?
I like to help people; I’ve always advocated for giving back to the community that was so instrumental in helping me achieve success. In 2013, I was looking for a way to “pay it forward,” essentially, and I noticed that we had a problem growing right in our own backyard. I found that many students in Pinellas County were falling further and further behind in their reading ability.
I knew that, if these young people applied themselves, they would find that they’re capable of much more than they believed. So, I thought to myself, “How can we motivate students to put forth the effort?” The answer was simple: cash! If participating students show improvement in their reading ability over the course of the semester, we’ll offer to pay them $500 as a reward.
I believe this approach works because we’re not talking about something abstract. We’re talking about cash, a material item that every teenager wants. The idea is that we can draw students in with the cash prize, but as they go through the program, they’ll discover talents and aptitudes they didn’t believe they had. We find that, by the end of the program, many of our participants’ priorities have changed; gaining confidence and discovering new skills becomes its own reward, and the cash is just a bonus!