Black CEO Of The Year Shares On Inspiration And Diversity

Michael Madden, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst, Wealth Solutions Report

Pathfinder Award Winner Kim Crawford Goodman, CEO Of Smarsh, Discusses Goals And Values, Improving The Industry And Career Advice

From the beginning, WSR’s Pathfinder Awards have served a dual purpose – both to recognize excellence in the industry and to provide a platform for persons from underrepresented communities and backgrounds to engage us as industry participants on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion so that we may listen, learn and work toward a better future.

For this purpose, we reached out to Smarsh CEO Kim Crawford Goodman, winner of the Pathfinder Award for Black CEO of the Year, as part of the Top Black Industry Leaders of 2023, awarded in recognition and celebration of Black History Month. 

With 23 years of experience in financial services, hospitality, technology and payments, Goodman joined Smarsh as CEO in June 2022. 

Before Smarsh, she served as President of the Payments and Risk Solutions Business at Fiserv. Prior to Fiserv, she served as CEO at Worldpay US; as President, Global Business Travel and President, Merchant Service Americas at American Express; in various executive roles at Dell; and as a Partner, Manager and Consultant at Bain & Company.

She also serves on the Board of Directors of Charter Communications and previously was on the Board of Directors at Alcatel-Lucent.

We asked Goodman to share her career inspiration with us, ways to improve diversity – especially in the C-suite – and advice for Black women building careers in wealth management.

WSR: What inspired you to aim for the C-suite, and how did you choose wealth management and technology? Were there any moments or persons that stand out as pivotal to your career?

Goodman: I’ve always admired pioneers who break down barriers and stereotypes with excellence and perseverance. By definition, they are innovators. I aim to be this kind of leader and human being – someone who is highly capable, fair and transparent. This focus naturally led me to aspire to the C-suite as the highest leadership level.

Wealth management and technology are a magical combination. Wealth management allows regular people to translate their hard work into a family legacy, while technology helps wealth managers deliver great results with minimum risk. 

I am very proud to lead an innovative company that brings these together by developing and deploying leading-edge technologies that enable wealth managers to be safe and secure while building confidence.

WSR: How can our industry create more diversity in the C-suite? Tell us what we’re doing right as an industry and where we need to improve.

Goodman: Our industry is similar to many others, with tremendous room for improvement in equity and diversity. There are a few simple yet powerful tactics to improve. First, diversifying the leadership team is critical, and I do not mean tokenism – I mean strong representation. This expands the company’s thinking and the talent network. 

Second, if everyone has a fair and equal chance at advancement, there will be diverse people climbing the ladder and influencing industry businesses. 

Deliver excellence

Finally, I encourage a fresh approach to the client base. When our industry recognizes the tremendous changes in where and how wealth flows, we will naturally innovate to serve newer segments well. It will make us stronger, better and more diverse.

WSR: How is the experience in the wealth management industry different for persons who are both of a minority background and female? What advice would you give to Black women in the industry or aspiring to enter it? 

Goodman: First and foremost, deliver excellence. Build your capability and track record to be impeccable. 

The next critical ingredient is perseverance. Handling the hard-earned assets of clients is an honor and must be done with quality and security. If it’s your life’s work, don’t be deterred. There will be “haters” and setbacks, but also supporters and opportunities. 

Don’t ever get discouraged – at least not for long. Just keep your head up and continue moving your accomplishments and career forward.

Michael Madden, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at mmadden@wealthsolutionsreport.com

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