“For a serial entrepreneur, the highs are very high, but the lows can be very low. During those lows, you must be able to pick yourself up and persevere. Having a team that ﬁghts for common goals alongside you is also important, as is utilizing clearly deﬁned metrics on what constitutes success,” believes Julie Fergerson, the CEO of the Merchant Risk Council (MRC). With aforesaid, Julie has always inculcated resilience in her leadership.
Servant Style Leadership
Julie prefers Servant Style leadership. She believes in hiring capable, passionate people who she knows will excel at their work. Her job is to ensure they have everything they need to be successful, and every opportunity to do their best. She believes that when people feel empowered, have the tools and resources they need, and have a leader who believes in them, anything can be accomplished.
Proven Track Record
Julie has over 25 years of experience developing, delivering, and promoting Internet-based technologies. She generates enthusiasm about new technologies. She is adept at evaluating new technologies to determine ﬂaws, competitors, and obstacles. She has a proven track record of positioning existing technology to meet the needs of an audience without changing the fundamental value of that technology. She is a resourceful problem solver and a motivating leader.
Addressing Varied Challenges
For Julie, the best part of guiding the MRC is addressing the varied challenges and issues that keep members up at night. By connecting those members with their peers and encouraging cooperation, they can develop mutually beneﬁcial solutions, and help to solve industry-wide problems in creative ways. Since day one, the MRC family has made a clear diﬀerence in eCommerce, and that’s always exciting.
Exceptional Group of People
The MRC community is a family. It’s a group of exceptional people from a wide variety of backgrounds committed to helping one another succeed. These people are united through the MRC’s common goals: ﬁghting fraud, maximizing revenue, and creating the best possible consumer experience.
Wealth of Knowledge and Expertise
One factor that separates the MRC from other industry organizations is its global footprint. It has had strong membership in Europe for many years, members in India and Latin America, and has recently launched MRC APAC to serve those in the Asia-Paciﬁc region. Its eCommerce merchants are global, and the issues they face are unique and challenging. Fortunately, the MRC has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share. It prides itself on ﬁnding solutions to these problems and providing educational resources for its members. A great example of this is RAPID Edu, an online learning platform that leverages the MRC’s subject matter expertise and years of fraud prevention and payments experience into on-demand classes that can be taken anytime, anywhere. Our RAPID Edu courses are designed to teach the basics of chargebacks, fraud, and payments and have received extremely positive feedback thus far.
Expanding Online Membership Engagement
The MRC has made two fundamental shifts since Julie joined as CEO in May of 2020. The ﬁrst was expanding the MRC’s online membership engagement. The MRC wants to be sure its members are aware of the comprehensive educational resources and tools available to them. MRC membership is much more than just conferences. It also consists of a massive eCommerce content library, networking opportunities, career development, discussion forums, communities, and more, all at your ﬁngertips.
The second fundamental shift was migrating the MRC’s popular events from in-person to online. During its ﬁrst virtual conference, the average attendee spent over six hours participating, and conversations were so vibrant and engaging that many people reported feeling like they were speaking face to face.
Though nothing can replace in-person communication, the MRC discovered some upsides to hosting its events online. It is now hoping to apply some of these learnings as it transitions back to in-person events. For example, the organization is considering creating a virtual event as a supplement to future in-person conferences, so those that can’t attend physically can still beneﬁt from the networking opportunities and educational resources.
The live Q&A sessions were also very engaging due to the live chat function. The MRC is now incorporating that functionality into webinars and considering ways to leverage that live interaction for future events, both in person and online.
Embracing Challenges and Being Reasonable
Julie also mentioned that success increases our responsibility, because it increases expectations. Learning to embrace success and the challenges it brings is a hard lesson. She has always strived to solve problems and help people. She is not driven by money. It’s nice to have, but it’s not what pushes her to succeed. That said, as a leader, she is vigilant about issues like revenue and paying the bills. Learning to prioritize ﬁnancial considerations alongside building great products and relationships with customers is a learned skill that Julie focuses on every day. CEOs assume an active role in shaping the future of a company, by putting the right people in the right roles, and steering the ship. That leadership role can be a lonely experience, however. One of the biggest hurdles CEOs must overcome is not having anyone to conﬁde in. Given that Julie naturally likes to collaborate and seek the opinions of others, she sometimes ﬁnds it challenging to keep things to herself. She recognizes that not having a peer or professional partner to celebrate her successes or share her struggles with can be a challenge. However, Julie considers herself lucky to have found mentors in her career that she can lean on and having a great team at her side certainly helps too.
Valuing the Role of Mentorship
Julie advises aspiring entrepreneurs to ask for help when in need. People want to help, and many ﬁnd it rewarding. One consistent truth throughout Julie’s career is that when she has struggled with challenges, she asks for help. She is always stunned by how far people are willing to go to help her overcome those challenges. Mentors are everywhere, and she advises to utilize that resource, and ask for help. Because the MRC knows the value of the mentee/mentor relationship, it developed a mentorship program to help facilitate those connections. Mentorship is an important component in preparing the next generation of industry leaders, and the MRC is committed to nurturing that development.
Complete eCommerce Resource
The MRC will always remain focused on providing value to its members and being the go-to resource for everything eCommerce related. Part of that commitment involves prioritizing education, which is why it continues to build out its online learning platform. RAPID Edu allows for ondemand learning on subjects like chargebacks, fraud, and payment essentials, and provides a foundational understanding of these critical eCommerce topics. It intends to continue investing in these educational resources in the coming years.
The MRC has also developed a comprehensive collection of webinars, whitepapers, presentations, and a wide selection of other educational resources that are available to members. This collection of content has been developed by some of the brightest minds in the eCommerce industry and is an invaluable resource to industry professionals of any experience level.
There’s always more to learn about this exciting industry, and the MRC is proud to be on the forefront of that eﬀort.