As a child, Genevieve Dozier developed ideas for her future from the movies. After watching Jurassic Park, she wanted to be an archeologist; Independence Day spurred a desire to be president of the United States.
“I had that ambition…It was always in me, it has come full circle now with being in payments and fintech, which is 30% female and even less when you talk about leadership and C-suite.”
How to actionably achieve more, was less clear for Genevieve. She grew up in North Carolina, in a small town of 3,000 people, with no stoplight, and cornfields for miles. She didn’t know life beyond these perimeters. As a young child, she and her parents experienced financial strains and housing insecurity. When their landlord’s daughter moved back to town, they were abruptly forced to vacate with only one month’s notice.
Genevieve spent years in cramped accommodations, from her aunt and uncle’s small home where she shared a bedroom with her parents, to an even smaller living space in her grandfather’s single-wide trailer from the ‘70s.
They lived there for some time until they bought a one-acre piece of land with a long dirt driveway. They updated their home to a double-wide trailer. Genevieve’s parents learned how to get by, and as a child, she never fully realized how unstable her upbringing was at times. Her father worked at the Naval Base in Virginia, having served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, and her mother was a teacher’s assistant at her elementary school. “They both came from pretty hard childhoods themselves and so they were, in their eyes, I think, better off than they were as kids. And I think we all try to have that same mentality, right, that I’m going to be better off than I was, and I want my kids to be better off than I am now.”
Genevieve was bullied by her peers in middle school for her family’s circumstances. She was confused and worn down by their words, which conflicted with her own view of herself. Genevieve did what she could to fit in by trying out for the softball and cheerleading teams; she was devastated when she didn’t make either.
A second failed attempt at athletics in high school shifted something in Genevieve. She stopped trying to be someone she wasn’t. “I just focused on what I could do to get out of that town because I just, I hated it. You know, once I realized my situation and I saw other kids’ houses and thought about how they have this huge brick house, or you live on the golf course.’ And I started understanding the differences there.”
She channeled her energy into her academics and expanded her resume with extracurriculars that didn’t require tryouts. She became a library assistant at her school and formed a close relationship with the librarian, a woman who became her first true adult role model. The librarian supported her through the college application process, helping Genevieve secure a scholarship and determine what area of study to pursue.
Genevieve inherited her grandmother’s artistic talents and loved to draw and sew, and would sketch out clothing designs. She was admitted to a top fashion design school at Meredith College, a historically women’s college in Raleigh, North Carolina, three hours from her hometown. “It’s funny because I wasn’t really interested in an all-woman’s college. I even remember thinking, I’m not a feminist, I don’t want to go to a women’s college. I didn’t understand at that time.”
Fortunately for Genevieve, it turned out to be the dream come true that she didn’t know she wanted or needed. She made friends with a group of like-minded young women, who shared similar backgrounds as her. And she studied abroad in Paris, something she never could have imagined doing, especially as a first-generation college graduate. Encouraged by a professor, she took on a second major in business. Genevieve’s entire world cracked open at Meredith, and with that, came a true sense of belonging, one she didn’t have to manufacture.
During Genevieve’s junior year of college, she became engaged to her high school sweetheart. Throughout that final year, certain of their shared future together, she evaluated the reality of the fashion industry. If Genevieve were to truly go for her dream of working at a design house, she’d have to move to LA, NYC, or Paris. Her fiancé, however, had just started on the police force in North Carolina, and they also knew they wanted to raise a family soon. Where the couple was in their lives was simply incompatible with the demanding life of a designer.
The same professor who encouraged Genevieve to pursue business suggested she interview with some of the finance companies recruiting on campus. While not as exciting as fashion, these jobs offered good benefits, a signing bonus, and solid pay. After a six-month-long hiring process, Genevieve was accepted into a competitive development program within BB&T Bank (now Truist). She opted into the merchant services track, which entailed supporting the setup of card payment processes for business clients.
She enjoyed the work, but there was an initial culture shock to the world of banking. Having spent her upbringing wrestling with a sense of belonging, and learning to reject conventional social expectations, she found herself in a professional environment that both encouraged and rewarded conformity. “You have to wear a navy suit. You have to look this way, you have to talk this way. You have to keep your head down…don’t ask questions in meetings, don’t talk to certain leaders…all of these things that I now know were bad advice. I mean, it got me promoted, right? So maybe it was good advice, but what happened was I fit in and that was a bad thing because I wasn’t being myself, I wasn’t being true to myself.”
After almost a decade in, now the VP of her department, Genevieve knew her time at BB&T was nearing a close as her frustration grew with the company culture. From the start, her first boss took credit for her work and another senior woman on staff regularly espoused the notion that women had to choose between work or family, they could not have both. While Genevieve still felt valued for her work, she finally determined she didn’t have to stay in an environment that inflicted her emotional well-being.
So she left for a new job in Atlanta as a marketing lead for a global company that manufactured the hardware and software technology for card processing systems. With two young children now, her husband transitioned to work as a stay-at-home parent; they calculated the cost of childcare would at least be that of his salary, so it was advantageous for him to not return to the workforce immediately.
Despite the necessary changeup, Genevieve did not enjoy her new position. A transformational silver lining was the women’s conference she attended on behalf of the company. The panelists were five executive-level women, and their discussion centered on managing both their careers and families. “I wanted to be like them. And that was honestly the first time I had seen a female president of a company on the stage talking…Maybe I can’t be the first female president of the United States of America since I had no interest in politics, but maybe I could be a female president of a payments company. Maybe that’s a reality.”
Genevieve took a chance and reached out to each of the panelists via LinkedIn. Only one messaged back, who turned out to be exactly who she needed. The woman spent multiple conversations coaching Genevieve through her difficult time at work and determining what her next career move should be. “She said, ‘You’re in the driver’s seat. We need to figure out what you really want to do.’…‘What I’m hearing is you want to help people, right?’…It was not just about business, you know, it was where do you want to be? what is your path? What is your motivator?… you need to check all those boxes. It’s not just about the job, it’s the company, it’s the people.”
With the help of her newly minted mentor, Genevieve practiced networking and worked to grow her LinkedIn presence. This was in 2016 when the platform was evolving beyond job searching and into another limb of social media. Genevieve landed several interviews and received two significant offers.
She was now faced with the decision between a similar job at a new company or the opportunity for something completely new. With the push of her mentor, she took the leap toward the unknown. “It literally saved my life. It changed my life. I was so much happier.”
This new position was as the head of the national partner program for business development at a merchant services company that owned its own technology. Regular travel was expected, but the position was remote and the company didn’t care where she lived, so Genevieve moved back to her hometown in North Carolina with her husband and kids. Having family nearby lessened the financial burden of outside childcare and her husband eventually returned to work after two years. “We really are a team…It was hard for him though, I will say, as a man, and again, growing up with that traditional thought…he felt like he wasn’t doing enough, even though when we were in Atlanta, we bought a house. He actually renovated the whole house.” Validating further, was that many of the executive women from the conference had stay-at-home husbands, something far more common than the couple realized.
Genevieve loved her new job and the work-life balance it provided. Then, the company was acquired by First Data (now Fiserv) and her role changed. This was hard to process at first, having found her groove, to now acquiescing to her department and its achievements. Fortunately, the team who hired her originally upheld their promise to protect Genevieve’s overall job security and helped her transition to a new role as an individual contributor, still under their leadership.
With their support, she continued to grow the company’s accounts and hoped to return to manage a team at the VP level. “…that’s ultimately what I really loved to do. And, it was not just about the title for me. It was really about working with people and helping them learn and grow. And at the same time, me learning and growing.”
Genevieve’s reputation grew outside of her company, and she started receiving recognition in the industry, including the 40 Under 40 Honors from the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) and the Making Waves Award from the Women’s Network in Electronic Transactions (WNET), now PayTech Women. Her confidence catapulted as she saw the payoff of sticking true to herself. She was soon thereafter elected as a member of the board of directors at WNET and serves on the advisory board of two others.
As her experience and recognition grew, Genevieve cultivated her writing talents and posted a variety of pieces on LinkedIn, ranging from payments and technology trends to her experience growing up in a trailer. The latter received over 200,000 views; an unexpected amount of traction, and extremely validating that her story, in her own voice, was worth telling; that she did indeed belong, as she is.
In 2021, a hiring manager from Merchant’s PACT reached out to recruit Genevieve to help grow their business. The offer was for a director-level position, but Genevieve now knew her worth exceeded what was on the table. After some negotiation, she struck a deal to become the Chief Business Development Officer. Within a year, she helped grow every corner of the company and exceeded every goal, beyond what she was hired for.
Then last year, her mother-in-law suddenly passed away. Genevieve took a sabbatical from full-time work to act as the caregiver for her father-in-law. During this time, she also launched her own company, Warpaint Consulting, which provides businesses and individuals coaching, training, and tools for development and advancement.
On the side, she is working on writing a book, inspired by a poem she wrote in high school, unearthed from a box of schoolwork her mother stored away. One line, in particular, struck her, “With her elegant style she seems as priceless as a diamond, but inside she feels as worthless as coal.”
“That was the whole theme of the poem there. I wish I could go back in time to this girl e and give her a big hug…But it reminded me that, I’ve been that girl all along and just things have changed…I’ve been in different places and different experiences, but I’m still that same exact girl.”
The book is still in progress, and she is determining how to publish it. Once that happens, she hopes it will help garner traffic for her consultancy. Currently, Warpaint is growing without paying clientele, so Genevieve has since returned to full-time work at Finova Capital, a leasing and merchant cash advance company. An old coworker reached out to an acquaintance that was hiring and recommended Genevieve for the job, unbeknownst to her. Within two weeks of the hiring manager making contact, the role was secured. Here, she manages equipment financing and embedded lending solutions with merchant-acquiring partners. She is enjoying learning a new side to the industry – and doing so as her full self.
“Figuring out how I stand out amongst the crowd has skyrocketed my confidence and ultimately my career…I recently realized this, I spent part of my childhood trying to fit in, and then I spent the other half of it really trying not to fit in. And so I had gotten pretty good at that…Don’t put your head down because that’s what I did… be authentically you, be kind to everyone, and keep going after whatever it is you want.”