NewCo Shift Forum 2018
Why the most senior woman at American Express decided to leave, and what her decision can teach us all
Until very recently, Susan Sobbott was the President of Global Commercial Payments at American Express, a storied company that has gone through significant transitions over past 100 or so years, and certainly in the last five. She spent 27 years there, and had a remarkable career as a senior executive spanning multiple divisions of the financial giant.
I first worked with Sobbott when I ran a company called Federated Media, and she ran part of American Express which included OPEN, Amex’s small business brand. Sobbott, a director of many commercial and nonprofit boards, was recently named one of the 150 women who shaped the world. But perhaps the most interesting thing about her is her recent choice to leave American Express after being passed up for the role of CEO. Most executives go silently into the night after this kind of news. But not Sobbott, who pointedly explained her reasons for leaving: There was only one job she wanted at the company, and the company didn’t give it to her. Below is the full transcript and video of our conversation at the Shift Forum last month. (While all conversations at Shift Forum are held under Chatham House Rule, Sobbott preferred her remarks be on the record. We’re thankful she did!).