David Mangum | Executive Profile | ATLANTA TREND

The Power of Passion
By Robert Green

According to English novelist E.M. Forster, one person with passion is better than forty people who are merely interested. David Mangum agrees, believing that the power of passion is essential for success. “Being passionate about what you do provides the energy that drives achievement,” he says.

And Mangum knows something about achievement, as his personal record indicates. The current President and Chief Operating Officer of Global Payments has made few false moves in a career trajectory driven by passion and laden with success. “Getting others to feel that same passion and add their personal enthusiasm is what energizes a group of people to achieve more than the sum of their parts,” he says.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Mangum moved to Texas at age 14 necessitated by his father’s work. To this day he believes that watching his father’s career success was the biggest single inspiration for his own career. “My parents started with very little.  I watched my father work and work for our family, and as his career progressed I saw how he was rewarded for his efforts, eventually becoming the CEO of a financial services company” he says. “I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the model he provided and the work ethic he instilled in me.” 

While he was most interested in history and writing during his high school years, he also spent a lot of time working. “I started as a bus boy at 15, the earliest that I could legally work,” he says, “and followed up by working at McDonald’s through high school. It was good for me on a personal level and I’m glad that I learned first-hand what hard work is.”

When it came time for college, Mangum wanted to spread his wings by moving from the family’s Texas based location while also pursuing his interest in the liberal arts. He chose the small but exclusive Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. The number one private college in the Midwest draws students from all over the world and is still today ranked as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. “Carleton was an eye opener for me,” Mangum says. “Suddenly, I was surrounded by 1,600 students who were all extremely bright. It was competitive and invigorating,” he says. With students from all over the world, he appreciated the diversity of culture and people that Carleton presented. “I enjoy being around bright, energetic people,” he says.  His passion for history and writing extended into college, and Mangum believes that the skills he developed there, the ability to analyze issues and communicate clearly, have served as a distinct business advantage throughout his career.

Mangum majored in Political Science and was especially interested in Latin American affairs. “It was an interesting time. The region was going through political and business changes and it was fascinating to watch the implications of policy decisions on the lives of people,” he says. For two summers he interned on Wall Street – first on the trading floor and second as an analyst. The experience made him realize that he was most interested in a career in business.

Out of college, Mangum was accepted into a business training program with The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation working with its Internal Audit Staff. The company used Internal Audit as a training ground to develop future financial and operational leaders.  This is where Mangum met his future wife, Melissa, also a member of the program.  While he enjoyed his time in Internal Audit – “It was essentially my business school, except that we worked with real business issues instead of hypotheticals,” he says.  In addition, he supplemented this training with formal coursework at night.  The goal of the program was always to transition into the business.  This occurred when Mangum moved from audit to D&B Software in Atlanta.  D&B Software provided financial solutions for companies that ran on mainframe computers, and Mangum’s work as a Senior Analyst, and later Director of Finance, placed him in a supporting role to the C-level executives of the company.

Mangum left D&B and had been working at a small company called XcelleNet, Inc. for a year when he received a call from the founder of CheckFree asking whether he would be interested in becoming CFO. “This is an interesting point,” says Mangum, “here Pete Kight and Pete Sinisgalli were willing to bet on a 30 year old instead of the been there, done that.  Based on this experience, when I’m hiring, I seek bright, energetic and hard-working people – even if they don’t necessarily have the most experience.”

“This is where I truly fell in love with the marriage of technology and financial services, of building and providing solutions that can change a person’s everyday life,” Mangum says. Because of CheckFree, millions of people stopped paying bills using paper via the post office and began to pay bills online. When Mangum started as CFO in 2000, the company had about $250 million in annual revenue. By 2007 it was about $1.0 billion in revenue and sold to Fiserv for $4.4 billion. “We grew to over 4,000 employees,” he says, “and we were passionate about what we were doing and about performance. The focus was on how to invest capital for long term growth. Anyone can cut expenses but the real challenge is how to prudently allocate investment dollars to drive growth or to prepare for change, which is inevitable.”

Mangum is certain that the key lesson he derived from the success of CheckFree is that culture matters. “Building a performance culture requires a consistent approach,” says Mangum, “and people at all levels have to be accountable to each other.”

Mangum ran the integration of CheckFree into Fiserv.  The merger essentially complete by 2008, he decided to take time off to spend time with his wife and two daughters. But he knew that when he went back to work again that it would be in financial services. It was during this family sabbatical that Paul Garcia, then the CEO of Global Payments, called and recruited Mangum. 

Global Payments was the type of company that Mangum was hoping to join.  Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Global Payments Inc., a Fortune 1000 company headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the largest worldwide providers of payment solutions.  Global Payments’ focuses on service driven commerce – which is not merely a marketing tagline – it is a forward-looking, global commerce company focused on delivering quality services driven by customer needs around the world. 

Mangum became CFO of Global Payments in 2008 and says that one of the biggest challenges he faced was that the business was genuinely global. “Again, culture matters,” he says. “Business people around the world have different approaches and you have to be ready for that.” His travel schedule also increased greatly but he enjoys doing business around the world. “I find it personally satisfying to do business with people in China, Spain, Brazil and all around the world,” he says.

As CFO, Mangum was responsible for information technology strategy, technology and platform operations, global product strategy, product development, real estate services and risk management, in addition to all financial operations.  Officially named President and COO of the company in June of 2014, Mangum is currently responsible for the company’s U.S., Canadian and Latin American businesses, which total about 70% of the company’s approximately $2.7 billion in revenues, along with worldwide operations, enterprise risk management and global product strategy. “Overall, I’d say that the most challenging and rewarding part of this job is ensuring that we work as one company both culturally and operationally, and not simply as a holding company with different businesses around the world,” he says.

Businesswise, the company is doing very well. “We are aligned at the top,” Mangum says, “and we have a nice combination of payment solutions businesses in large, developed markets as well as early stage countries where we expect strong long term growth.” The company also has a unique global footprint, as a leading payment processor in over 25 countries around the world. “We have innovative technology and are at the center of digital commerce and mobile payments,” he says, “and we will definitely expand into additional markets.”

Although he has enjoyed great success, Mangum says that his greatest pleasure is being surrounded by the energy and passion that he has helped instill. “I like helping people achieve their goals so that the company can achieve its goals,” he says. “Sometimes it’s about removing obstacles, but more often it’s about giving clear direction. People thrive on clear objectives and the fact that our company mission – driving global commerce – is something about which we can all be passionate, makes the work fun. As I said earlier, being passionate drives success.”

Mangum hopes to influence his daughters to find their passion and achieve success. “After all, isn’t family the reason that we work so hard?” asks Mangum.


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