FIS Chairman and CEO Frank Martire ’69 Shares Insights with Business Students

Linda McMahon and Frank Martire ’69

News Story: March 28, 2014

The John F. Welch College of Business at Sacred Heart welcomed alumnus Frank Martire as the latest distinguished guest in its “Conversations” series of programs. A 1969 SHU graduate, Martire is chairman and CEO of Fidelity National Information Systems (FIS). The conversation was titled “Leadership, Ethics/Morals and the Importance of Cyber Security in Today’s World” and was moderated by Linda McMahon, co-founder and former CEO of WWE. The two are also members of the SHU Board of Trustees where Martire serves as vice chairman. The event took place in the Schine Auditorium before a full house that was dominated by business students.

With 32,000 employees, FIS is the world’s largest provider of payment and banking technologies. In February, the company reported a 2013 revenue increase of 5 percent on a reported basis to $6.1 billion from $5.8 billion a year earlier. Martire offered an inside perspective about FIS’ culture, his rise in the technology world and industry trends. His initiation was at Connecticut National Bank, in technology and data processing, followed by 10 years at Citicorp, where he gained global experience. His path ultimately led to his current role at FIS after its merger with Certegy, Inc. in 2006.

“It’s important to establish a culture in a company—a moral fiber and ethical values—and live it every day. You also have to be willing to go out and be committed to it and lead by example,” Martire said, with regard to his charge as CEO.

A moral code is key in Martire’s view. “We don’t use a mission statement, but rather guiding principles. The character of the company is our moral compass. Community focus, giving back and doing the right thing is important. Our word is what we live by,” he said, adding that FIS has a risk and compliance division for reporting and investigation of ethics violations.

Martire shared that the company merger was his toughest challenge—blending the cultures and determining how to operate as one company. Now, to ensure a smooth forward flow, he regularly goes to the various FIS sites and conducts town hall meetings with employees. “You have to listen and when you don’t listen, that’s when you fail. You learn from everybody,” he said.

Hiring the right people is also critical. “When you hire people, you want those in particular jobs to know more than you do. Some CEOs don’t because of insecurity, but you have to have confidence in yourself and them,” he said.

What are the biggest business challenges in the technology industry today? “The speed of change and adjusting quickly,” said Martire. “Our industry changes every single day, so we hire creative and responsive people and do development three to four years in advance. Cyber security is also critical. Safeguarding data is top-of-mind for every CEO. You can lose your reputation in a day,” he said.  

In closing, Martire advised tomorrow’s leaders, “Be yourself first and foremost. Take on the hard tasks if you want to move ahead and be recognized. Do the best job in the job you’re doing today without worrying about the next job. And have fun and a passion for what you do.” 

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