Since its inception in 2008, the MAG mission has remained consistent, and our dedication to these words is evident in our accomplishments. “Driving positive change and innovation in the payments industry that serves the merchants' interests through collaboration, education and advocacy.” Our growing list of accomplishments is attributable to MAG’s leadership, from staff to our Board of Directors, as well as Committee and Community of Practice (COP) merchant members.
Since being elected to the Board in 2016, several of my colleagues have commented about seeing less of me at conferences. This may seem contraindicated, as one would expect the Board would be more present at in-person events. In actuality, the Board’s presence just manifests itself differently at conferences. Board Members are actively working behind the scenes to make the most of the face time opportunities with members and sponsors. We arrive at conferences a day early and spend up to two full days in closed-door meetings with acquirers, card networks and other parties as necessary. The purpose of these closed-door meetings is to express the MAG membership’s viewpoints, concerns and opportunities with critical stakeholders in the payments ecosystem.
The Board, Staff and active merchant members are dedicated Servant Leaders, ensuring we prioritize the interests of the membership base before all else. Most Board members chair a committee, lead a SIG or drive a particular COP's mission – and many do a combination of these things.
In addition to meetings at the Annual Conference and Mid-Year Convention, we meet regularly with our acquirers and network sponsors to address subjects and issues the membership deems the most urgent and/or important. The MAG leadership team also educates the industry on merchant considerations related to technology, innovation, rules changes and inequities in the ecosystem. We do this through other industry organizations such as the U.S. Faster Payments Council, U.S. Payments Forum, EMVCo, Conexxus and other forums - always advocating for mutual consideration and benefit for our merchant members and their customers.
To some, this all may seem like a lot of work in addition to one’s day-job – I say it is a lot of fun! I think of it like an extra-curricular activity from school days long past. No matter the success I have at work, the intrinsic value I get from being a part of such a powerful organization motivates me to continue learning and growing every day.
There are so many ways to get involved and help drive the change you want to see in the industry. Below are just a few of the opportunities to contribute your leadership skills to the MAG.
- Board Member: Terms are staggered to ensure continuity while also generating opportunity for new members to be elected. 2020 has proven unique as we have more open seats up for election than any in at least 5 years. 2021 will surely have new voices speaking for the membership. Board members commit a substantial amount of time to the organization, meeting monthly, three of those meetings being full day in-person sessions to discuss our strategic goals, plan the objectives and develop the budget needed to accomplish those goals. Merchant members interested in learning more about becoming a Board member can reach out to MAG's CEO John Drechny or any current Board member.
- Committee Member: Volunteers who focus on effectuating one of MAG's strategic pillars of Advocacy and Communications, Collaboration, Education, Engagement and Innovation. Most committees meet monthly to develop the objectives and tactics to achieve the goals of the organization.
- Community of Practice (COP) Members: Volunteers who focus on a narrower tactic. The meeting cadence of each COP varies based on the objective. COPs are relatively short-lived teams who deliver an output for broader distribution amongst the organization’s member base, usually in the form of a best practice, implementation guide or something similar. A list of the current COPs is available on the MAG website and individuals interested in lending their expertise to a COP can reach out to Eric O'Brien.
Anyone interested in offering their leadership to further the MAG's mission and success is encouraged to do so. I'm sure you'll find it as rewarding an experience as I have, and the MAG will be a better organization with your involvement!