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Illustration of Mark O'Connell, chief executive officer of Interac. (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail/Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)
Illustration of Mark O'Connell, chief executive officer of Interac. (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail/Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)

Mark O'Connell: Defender of Canada's debit card faith Add to ...

On his one-time ambition to be a professional student

"I got three university degrees. I refused to work, I just loved academia."

On the influence of his father-in-law and mentor, Matthew Barrett, former head of Bank of Montreal and Barclays

"He believes that banks have forgotten that payments is one of the three legs of the original banking stool, and they are not realizing that if you don't have a place in the payments franchise, it affects everything. Particularly now, when you have Googles and Apples and new ways to pay that disintermediate banks."

On the trick of being a good lobbyist

"It's easy when you genuinely, passionately believe that you are doing the right thing, and that this is important for both Canadians and also Canadian businesses, and not just merchants. I believe that banks are going to thank their lucky stars that there's a strong domestic debit network. I think I'm doing a service to the [debit card]issuers as much as I am to Canadians. And when you believe all that, you're so much more credible when you are trying to educate."

Mark O'Connell's CV:

Education

- He has an honours undergraduate degree from McGill University, a BComm and MBA from Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor, and a Harvard Finance diploma.

Family

- Lives with his wife Tara, a clinical psychologist, and their two sons Matthew and Ryan in Oakville, Ont.

Hobbies

- Hockey, skiing, golf, computer games

Career highlights

- Executive vice-president, finance market, Emergis Inc.

- President and CEO, Interac Association

Formative job

In his late 20s, Mr. O'Connell rose through the ranks of NCR Corp. (formerly known as the National Cash Register Company) whose products include ABMs.

"The word 'fired' started at NCR because you'd know you were no longer with the company if you drove up to the headquarters and the first chairman, [John]Patterson, had put your desk on the lawn and set it on fire."

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