Kathy Roberts is the CEO of Switch Reward Card. She was a pioneer in the consumer credit card industry with Discover Card and served as President and Chief Operations Officer of Discover Bank from 2000 to 2006. Ms. Roberts now applies those same skills and work ethic to the emerging digital currency market. She also proudly serves on the Board of Directors of many companies such as Galvan, the blockchain healthcare company.

During March, the Salt Lake Chamber is highlighting influential women in Utah. To celebrate Women’s History Month, we asked Kathy to share her stories, thoughts and advice.

Why do you feel that Women’s History Month is important?

Women’s History Month is important to tell her-story. Traditionally, whoever is writing or telling the story is exactly what and how we are taught about history and all important events. In the past, writers have traditionally been men, telling important stories about themselves and other men. The accomplishments of women were thought to play a minor role. The women who gave birth to these great men, and their grandmothers, nannies, schoolteachers, nurses, sisters and wives who gave their support may all be considered unremarkable; yet, they must have had some hand in shaping each great man’s character. 

Then there are those women who have been so important to the world we live in — whose stories need to be known to understand how their brilliance, strength and individual contributions have changed the world around them. Someone once asked Marie Curie how it felt to be married to a genius, and she rightly replied, “I don’t know, ask my husband.”  Women’s History Month is an opportunity to shine a light on those brave, intelligent, determined women who, despite barriers and built-in prejudices, endured high costs to achieve their goals. Everyone should know those stories. 

What does success mean to you? Share your path to success and the challenges you’ve overcome to get there.

Success to me means achieving your own goals, whether that be in a career or other endeavors. For me, it has been the independence of living my life in a way that suits me from day to day, and I make the decisions about how I will achieve the goals I’ve set. The goals include personal ones as well as business achievements. My path to success has largely been based on a no-fear approach to what I decide to do. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been scared out of my wits sometimes, but it means I have an infinite amount of confidence in my ability to see a path to a goal set before me. It also means a lot of prayer goes into some projects! I do know that others may not always have initially thought I would have success, simply because I was a woman in business when primarily men competed for the titles I vied for. That simply made me more determined to excel, improve the business I was in and leave things better than when I took an assignment, whether with more revenue, better service, better processes or something else. I was also dedicated to helping others to reach their goals.

How can others follow in your footsteps?

Other women can follow in my footsteps by removing that fear factor. Talent, smarts, creativity, hard work and, most of all, persistence is part of every success. If the door is not open to you, try the handle; if the people on the other side don’t like you or don’t want you to come in, don’t let your feelings be hurt and just walk through. A crack has been opened in the glass ceiling by others, and if it takes a hammer to finish off the crack, disguise it in a velvet glove. While this quote is from a man, Winston Churchill said to “never give in, never, never, never.” Be sure to toot your own horn, like my mom would say, a “poor dog that won’t wag its own tail.” 

What’s next? What are your current and future aspirations?

Leaving a legacy is important to me. I want to leave my only child a legacy of financial health and family pride, but I also hope to inspire others to do great things in various walks of life. 

Most recently, I have been asked to help with a project that will honor the contributions of Polynesians who migrated to the Utah Valley, joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and helped build the temple. You will hear more from me about this ambitious project in the very near future. I have also been blessed to work with another Utah non-profit, WHOlives, that is dedicated to bringing clean water to the world. 

In business, I expect my current project to dominate global markets and be a game changer in the fintech world, making the latest entry of tech in the digital markets a common way to trade and do business.  

If you could go back in time and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

If I could go back and give my young self one piece of advice, it would be to not worry about the norms expected of young women. To not focus on traditional paths if they did not interest me. To follow my gut. Oh! That’s three things, not one — I have a lot of trouble following instructions.

*Stay updated on more stories, events and information on Women’s History Month by visiting the Salt Lake Chamber’s website.