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Voice of Experience: Doris Daif, Head of Digital Customer Experience, American Express

Welcome to The Glass Hammer’s “Women in Tech” month! We will be celebrating successful women in technology all month long!

Doris Daif, Head of Digital Customer Experience at American Express, offers one important piece of advice for women. “Confidence and poise are two of your greatest assets,” she said. “When you possess these qualities, you will be able to articulate your point of view and make your voice heard.”

“You have to go through your own journeys in life to see what lies on the other side,” added Daif, “but if there is one thing I wish I knew earlier in my career, it would be how confidence is such a valuable career tool.”

Career Path

Daif started her career in Consumer Packaged Goods with Revlon and Colgate Palmolive, where she focused on market research and customer analytics at both companies. “I learned that I had a passion for seeing how customers interact with products and this interest led me toward roles where I spent a lot of time working in analytics, insight and customer research,” said Daif.

Creating a high-quality customer experience has been a strong foundation for Daif’s career and has certainly weaved its way throughout her 14 year career at American Express, where she is currently the Head of Digital Customer Experience. Daif started at the company on the B2B side in a division called Small Business Services (now OPEN). “Here I spent a lot of time developing strategies and designing products to deepen engagement with our existing small business customers,” she explained.

From here, Daif accepted the opportunity to work in a newly created role to launch two co-brand portfolios on behalf of Costco and Delta. Creating these portfolios from scratch and watching them grow and thrive in the marketplace is something that Daif is incredibly proud of. This success led Daif into her next role at American Express, Director of Prospect Acquisition for OPEN, which focused on establishing new relationships with small business clients.

“After this role, I took a very unconventional path and left marketing to join the operations side of the business,” said Daif. There was a really bold vision established by the leadership, Daif explained, regarding how to turn the customer care side of the business into the best front line marketing organization possible.

“I spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be an organization that thinks really deeply about delivering a world-class experience to its customers,” said Daif, “and what it means to be a front line employee serving those customers every day. This is one of the most rewarding roles I ever had.” In four years, Daif added, the team more than doubled the company’s global Recommend to a Friend score (a key indicator of customer satisfaction and engagement).

The work Daif did in World Service set the stage for her current role as head of Digital Customer Experience, which focuses on customer engagement and creating a positive user experience for customers interacting with the brand digitally. Daif started out working on digital assets in the US before taking on global responsibilities, including an in-depth successful reboot of www.americanexpress.com.

“I am really excited about continuing our quest to deliver world-class experience through and across all of our digital products,” Daif said. “This includes giving customers the ability to interact with our products and services how they want and when they want, with the best design and functionality features out there.”

In Her Spare Time

When she is not in the office, Daif, who lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, stays busy with her very active dog. “I have a passion for the theater and food, so I spend a lot of time seeing shows and discovering new restaurants,” added Daif.

Addressing Gender Inequities

According to Daif, some of the challenges professional women face in their career advancement might not be present at the junior level but begin to emerge as women rise to senior level positions. “I think that to combat this, women need to remain authentic and be assertive about stating what they want,” Daif noted.

She added that career advancement can sometimes coincide with starting a family, which is something that adds an added layer of pressure on women who want to give 100 percent of themselves to their career and family simultaneously. “I think women need to realize and accept that it is okay for that balance to ebb and flow, as long as they are active and consistent about stating their professional objectives and intentions,” Daif explained.

Daif encourages women to identify their passion points and take advantage of all opportunities to explore different paths and embrace unique challenges. “If you can pinpoint your passions, you can be open-minded about taking more risks and stepping outside of your comfort zone,” advised Daif. “These opportunities are rare, and women who seize the opportunity to do something a little unconventional will benefit in the long term.”

Giving Back

“I have had some phenomenal mentors and sponsors throughout my career,” Daif stated, “so I am constantly on the lookout for rising talent that I can advocate for and sponsor.” According to Daif, the guidance and support that senior women can offer to junior women is instrumental in grooming the next generation of women leaders.

“Women have amazing leadership qualities, including collaboration and empathy,” she added, “and they are uniquely positioned in any industry to become world-class leaders.”

Daif is committed to supporting women’s career advancement and actively participates in the Women’s Interest Network at American Express. Within the technology group, Daif addressed the company’s concerted efforts to not only recruit more women but also retain them as well. To that end, there now is a networking organization dedicated to Women in Technology at the firm, which originated as a sub-chapter of the Women’s Interest Network and which Daif said has encouraged women across the organization to learn more about the vast spectrum of tech-related roles from product management to design to engineering and better appreciate how many different facets there are within this segment of the organization.

“Meeting women across such diverse backgrounds through this group and facilitating discussions about the common struggle is rewarding,” said Daif. “Ironically, I got my current job managing this digital team through my participation in the Amex Women’s Interest Network. I met my future boss while I was volunteering for one of our events – serendipitous at the time, but looking back, I can see how critical that forum was for me. In a similar way, I’m now constantly on the hunt for future talent and how I can give back in a similar way.”

By Michelle Hendelman