Spotlight Series: A Conversation with Christine Cooper

Spotlight Series
May 28, 2024

In the PayNearMe Spotlight Series, we shine a light on the people that make our company thrive. In this month’s interview, we sat down with Christine Cooper, Director of Audits, to chat about her role in the company, why she loves working at PayNearMe and her life outside of work.

Q: How long have you worked at PayNearMe? 

Christine Cooper: I’ve worked at PayNearMe for a little over five years. 

Q: Can you tell us about your career journey and what led you to PayNearMe? 

CC: I initially became interested in leadership when I was volunteering for an artistic community. I later joined a startup in the clinical trial sector, where I excelled in policy development and audit preparation. 

When I left that company, PayNearMe came highly recommended by an industry friend. This person spoke positively of PayNearMe’s leadership team, so when I learned about an open position, I applied and have been with the organization ever since. 

Q: Have you always wanted to pursue a career as a Director of Audits?

CC: As a kid, I always wanted to be a math teacher. I studied philosophy in college, and was captivated by Aristotle and his philosophical teachings on systems and logical thinking. 

This shaped my analytical approach to viewing systems and operations as interconnected wholes, where identifying gaps and organizing information is crucial. This naturally led me into a career in auditing.

Q: How has PayNearMe helped you in your career development?

CC: PayNearMe gave me the opportunity to explore my auditing abilities. Given my natural inclination to find gaps in processes and operations, I was fortunate enough to have support from the company to essentially go and “fill” those gaps and carve out a career path for myself that not only accommodates my strengths, but protects our organization. For example, I optimized our vendor management program by updating the process from a messy spreadsheet and weighty onboarding system to the streamlined form procedure we have in place now.   

PayNearMe has also provided me with great mentors that have helped me build technical skills, learn how to conduct myself on a professional level and how to be a better communicator.

Q: Do you have any advice to share with those who are just getting into the fintech industry who might want to join a company like PayNearMe? 

CC: My best advice is to not be afraid to meet the needs of the company—even if it is beyond the scope of your current position. If you proactively identify problems, get buy-in and support from your leadership team and then propose and implement solutions, you’ll not only stand out but also actively shape your career path.

Q: What are some of your favorite things about working at PayNearMe?

CC: I really respect PayNearMe’s leadership team. I’ve seen first-hand that our leadership team takes accountability without placing blame. They’re growth-oriented, and consistently lead from a place of respect. The welcoming culture makes it feel like a great place to grow my career skills. It also helps facilitate a solid environment for all team members to thrive. 

Q: PayNearMe’s Core Values are Together, Do the Right Thing, Results-Driven, Transparent, Flexible and Respectful. Which one most resonates with you most and why?

CC: The core value that resonates most with me is ‘respectful’ because if you can come from a foundational place of respect, the rest of the values naturally follow. 

Q: Let’s shift the focus to your role. What does a day in the life of a Director Audits look like?

CC: My number one objective is ensuring my team has what they need in all facets of the workplace. That can include resources, sharing information about projects and just checking in to support them on a more human level. 

I also spend time connecting with cross-functional teams to make sure we’re aligned in our efforts for current and future project planning. 

Q: Let’s talk about remote work. How are you able to stay connected with your team virtually?

CC: We have regularly scheduled virtual 1:1 and team meetings to stay aligned on projects, and to check in on each other to build those all-so-important interpersonal relationships. 

As a manager, I prioritize doing little gestures to show my team how much I appreciate them—whether it’s a Starbucks gift card or a ‘High-Five’ in our company’s performance management platform, 15-Five.

We also try to have at least one offsite, in-person meeting a year. Recently, our Chief Information Security Officer organized an offsite team meeting so we could connect on future planning, while getting to know each other on a more personal level. 

So, to stay connected, we do our best to cover all fronts: text, video and in-person.

Q: What are three things you have to have on your desk each day for a productive workday?

CC: Well, obviously my laptop, my cell phone for multi-factor authentication and of course, a caffeinated beverage!

Q: What are some things that you’ve learned about yourself while working at PayNearMe?

I’ve learned that I can greatly expand my abilities when I remove the self-imposed limits in my mind, and lean into the guidance of wise mentors.

Q: So what about you—what kinds of activities or hobbies are you interested in outside of work?

CC: I’m a fire performer and I have taught flow arts classes across the U.S. 

Q: If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?

CC: I’m really passionate about art, so I would be an art curator. 

Q: Any fun facts you’d like to share with us?

CC: I started a flow arts festival in 2016. After that, I was a Director of a regional Burning Man event in Virginia.  

Q: Do you participate in any volunteer work or have any organizations you’d like to shine a light on?

CC: I have a passion project called The Beatbrief where I’ve created a platform to promote music, visionary art and alternative fashion. I have a lot of connections in the artistic community and want to use my skills and resources to help local artists gain exposure to promote their work.

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