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Member Perspective

Phillips 66

I walked into the back of a huge ballroom at the conference hotel in Orlando in June 2012. I was feeling uncomfortable - it was the annual Visa Conference and I was new to this industry. After working with fuel marketers for the previous twenty years and having to explain high credit card fees, I felt a bit like I was behind enemy lines. It was daunting to try to decide where I should sit down. There were a number of people from South America…. I wasn’t sure if I should sit with them, they might not speak my language. There were a lot of bankers…. I wasn’t sure if I should sit with them, they might not speak my language either. So, I grabbed the table in the far back corner, that way if I wanted to I could sneak out quickly.

After a few minutes tackling my salad quietly, I decided to introduce myself to the guy next to me who turned out to be John Drechny from Wal-Mart. On the other side was Mark Horwedel, and others at the table included Kroger, Best Buy, as well as other merchants. A feeling of relief warmed over me. I was among friends, no, I was among family!! The conversation was fruitful, the ideas were helpful, and I learned that many of the concerns that I had developed over the first few months in my role were shared by other merchants. But, most of all, there was not just a common complaint, but a common desire to define and implement solutions to our payments industry issues. I realized immediately that MAG merchants and the MAG leadership are serious and committed to making a difference.
I was sold on the MAG. As a new person to the payments industry I had an immediate network of industry contacts to help me with my questions about our industry and its complex issues. I also had experts available to explain to me the issues of the day through webinars. That’s how I learned the basics of payments as well as timely items like the ins and outs of the Visa MasterCard Settlement.

Finally, of all the conferences that I attended in my first year in the industry, and there were many, the MAG conference was the most stimulating, had the best format for connecting and learning, and had the most effective networking opportunities. And attendees extend beyond the merchants that I came to appreciate so much. Our industry partners (processers, acquirers, and even the card brands) also attend and are engaged in the discussions that we have about driving improvements in our industry.

This year I’m not traveling as much, but I won’t miss the MAG conference. I hope to get a chance to buy you all a Hurricane in October!

Greg Pellegrino
, Director, Contracts and Systems Performance, Phillips 66