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Female Forerunners | Martha Salinas

Martha Salinas is the Chief Customer Officer at MSTS, a global FinTech company in the B2B payment space, based in Kansas City with operations around the world. She is also an Angel Investor and a member of both Mid-America Angel Investors and the Women’s Capital Connection, a network of accredited angel investors dedicated to identifying and funding the most promising start-up business opportunities in the Kansas City region for MAA and women-owned for WCC. She is also a business mentor with the Techstars organization and sits on the advisory board of Kenzen, a San Francisco-based company that is pioneering the next generation of personal health monitors and analytics designed to empower its users in the field of health, motion tracking and performance. She holds a bachelors in Economics and International Business from St. Louis University and a masters in Economics from the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

MSTS: What are some of the pivotal points that got you where you are in your career?

Martha Salinas: One of the biggest risks or pivotal points was when I decided to leave a city where I had family, friends and a job I loved to move to Kansas City. I didn't know anybody and took a job in an industry I knew nothing about.  Big risks offer big opportunities. Over the years, other pivotal points have been when I have volunteered to handle a project nobody else wanted or proposed a new initiative that was not going to be easy but was ripe for opportunity. Of course, along the way, there were failures but those are also a great opportunity to learn.


MSTS: What changes have you seen for women in business in the past 5 years? What do you think we’ll see in the next 5 to 10 years? 

Salinas: One factor that has helped women in business the most is the greater balance that exists at home among partners.  Sharing home chores and day-to-day responsibilities with the children more equally can have a positive impact on many levels.  Women are better able to work toward their goals and fathers are more engaged with their children and can have the freedom to be themselves without having a fit a specific stereotype. This can promote healthier relationships all around. It also gives women the confidence to pursue their dreams at home or in business. In terms of the next 5 to 10 years, I hope we continue to close the gender pay gap and women continue to build their confidence to go after opportunities and take the risks they need to take to get ahead.

MSTS: What struggles did you face the most as a woman at the start of your career?

Salinas: I can list many but instead I would like to talk about how I address them. I did not let these struggles create obstacles for me. I saw them as challenges to overcome and found a way around them. Struggles exist for all of us. The key is how you respond to them and I believe that in many instances, it is our negative thoughts that create even greater obstacles.


MSTS: What do you think is the biggest challenge women in business face today?

Salinas: Finding a balance between the demands of the home and the demands of work.  Let me give you an example: 4% of Fortune 100 CEOs happen to be women. There was a study that indicated one of the factors creating this disparity is the fact that women work fewer hours when they have kids. And, they don't typically pursue intense jobs and allow their careers to take a secondary role while raising a family.  Why isn’t it feasible to do both? I think that with a supportive partner who takes on 50% of the responsibilities women could do so much more!


MSTS: In your opinion, what’s the best way women in business can make a substantial difference?

Salinas: Find a mentor, man or woman, that will be honest and candid with you, but who is also willing to open doors for you. Take risks! Playing it too safe won’t help you get ahead. Failure is not fatal. And, if you decide to have a family, make sure you have a great partner who supports your dreams just as much as you will theirs. Finally, help others- men or women! Somehow, the more you do for others, the “luckier” you get! I know this can be said in many different ways and is found across various cultures, but I am a huge proponent of “do good and good will come back to you.”  Even if it doesn’t come back to you, it is still true that generosity is good for all.


MSTS: Which women are you inspired by and why?

Salinas: When I was younger, it was Madeleine Albright— a strong and incredibly smart woman with a very global view of the world, who was ahead of her time and was not afraid of pursuing her dreams. And, it sounds like a cliché, but I have always been inspired by my mother. Another strong and incredibly smart woman who decided to move from Spain to France to go to college. And, when her parents told her that “a nice single girl" shouldn’t live by herself in Paris, she decided to join a mission program in Central American instead, and that was only the beginning! Today, she continues to live her life with passion and vision! I have a long list of women that I admire. I am lucky to have amazing female friends at work and outside of work who are strong and caring, and at the same time not afraid of following their passions to make this a better world! I admire each of them and I am lucky to count on their support. They make me better.

MSTS: What advice would you give your 15-year old self, knowing what you know today and having the experiences you’ve had?

Salinas: Don’t worry so much! Follow your passion, work hard and enjoy the ride! Life is too short.


MSTS: How can women help each other to continue advancing in business?

Salinas: I read recently that women tend to be more caring and that this gets in the way of providing candid and honest feedback to each other, which in turn slows our growth.  Let’s do both by providing candid and honest feedback in a caring way. Also, I believe we have a debt to the women in the generation before who had it even tougher than us today and paved the way for us. We have a responsibility to do the same for the new generations and I believe it is the new generation of both men and women. Balance and gender parity helps not only women but men too!

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Martha Salinas is the Chief Customer Officer at MSTS, a global FinTech company in the B2B payment space, based in Kansas City with operations around the world.

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