Don’t worry about getting dirty….BE A SPONGE!

Don’t worry about getting dirty….BE A SPONGE!
Kristina Bindas Manager, Operations Finance Four Seasons
Jul 9, 2024

Picture this: a lifelong hotelier who's worked in 12 different hotels, transitioned from food and beverage to finance, and somehow ended up in the world of payments. Well, that's me!

My entire professional career has been in the hospitality industry. Initially, my enthusiasm for working with people led me to the food and beverage side of hotels. However, in search of a more consistent 9-to-5 lifestyle, I transitioned into finance. During this time, I frequently supported special corporate projects and discovered my passion for problem-solving and finding innovative solutions. I also found joy in sharing knowledge and teaching others. Thankfully, Four Seasons and my boss/mentor at the time supported my pursuit of a new endeavor.

I joined the Four Seasons Corporate Office as the Business Lead and Sponsor for our Global Payments Program. Admittedly, I didn't know much about payments. My only real experience was being an expert at buying things on online—more than I'd care to admit. However, I was eager to learn something new and was fortunate to have a boss who trusted me and allowed me to fail forward as I built momentum and gained experience.

Something to note before we proceed: I LOATHE not knowing things. I know it sounds like a bit of an exaggeration, but I truly despise being the least knowledgeable person in the room. So, when I find myself in these situations, I do whatever it takes to learn as quickly as possible! I become a human sponge, absorbing anything and everything I can! I am not concerned about how others might perceive me —I just ask, ask, ask. Absorb, absorb, absorb. I always remind myself that everyone was in my position at some point, so there's no need to hide where I am.

I did everything I could to learn about payments during this time. I met with co-workers and asked how payments impacted their work. I politely (annoyingly) interrupted our payments meetings to ensure I understood the discussion. I met with vendors to learn about their solutions and how they would benefit my business. Finally, I even asked my boss to send me to payments conferences to broaden my education. Enter… the Merchant Advisory Group (MAG).

I was introduced to the MAG by one of our vendors. I'd like to believe that he secretly recognized my potential and wanted to see me succeed, although maybe he just needed a break from my surplus of questions. Who knows! However, I eagerly accepted the opportunity when he suggested that I attend. As luck would have it, the MAG Annual Conference was happening in my home city and was only a week away. I was initially anxious, but I left the conference feeling like a payments expert and a superstar!

The MAG has given me confidence, broadened my education, and introduced me to the best leaders and innovators in the payments space. I've been able to keep up with new payments trends, issues, and solutions. I look forward to the MAG conferences every six months, and each time I leave feeling more assured about our work at Four Seasons. I feel more confident in driving our payments team forward, and I share that feeling with my colleagues, team, and executive team. I've been told multiple times how much more comfortable and informed they feel about our payments strategy and future decisions. Because of that, we have been able to invest more in resources, technology, and time for our payments program. The excitement around the Four Seasons payments strategy is palpable!

I am very proud of the progress our payments team has made. I truly believe that our involvement in the MAG has been instrumental in getting us to where we are today. I encourage anyone starting in payments to be bold, take chances to learn and network, join the MAG, and of course, do not worry about getting dirty…. ask questions and BE A SPONGE! 

The Merchant Advisory Group

Driving positive change and innovation in the payments industry that serves the merchants interest through collaboration, education, and advocacy.