Joseph W. Saunders was named Chairman of the board and Chief Executive Officer of Visa Inc. upon its formation in May 2007, and retired from Visa in March 2013. As chairman and chief executive officer of Visa Inc., Joseph W. Saunders leads a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions, and governments in more than 200 countries and territories. He was elected to this role in May 2007, after serving Visa International as executive chairman of the Transition Governance Committee.
During his tenure at Visa, Saunders has strengthened Visa’s position as the world’s leading payments technology company. Under his leadership, Visa transformed from a private association of banks into a public company that in 2008 completed what was then the largest initial public offering in U.S. history. Since then, Saunders has built on Visa’s history of innovation, diversifying its business and expanding its product offerings through the acquisitions of CyberSource, PlaySpan and Fundamo as well as the introduction of Visa’s digital wallet—V.me.
Prior to this role, Mr. Saunders was President and Chief Executive Officer of Providian Financial Corporation from November 2001, and Chairman of the board of directors from May 2002, until Washington Mutual’s acquisition of Providian in 2005. Following the acquisition Mr. Saunders agreed to remain with Washington Mutual as President of Card Services, for a transitional period from October 2005 to February 2007. From 1997 until 2001, Mr. Saunders served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fleet Credit Card Services at FleetBoston Financial Corporation. Prior to joining FleetBoston, Mr. Saunders spent 12 years at Household International, Inc., where he held various senior roles including Chief Executive of Card Services and head of the private label credit card business.
Mr. Saunders also was a member of the Visa U.S.A. board of directors from October 2002 to February 2007, a member of the Visa International Service Association board of directors from October 2005 to February 2007, and the Executive Chairman of Visa International’s Transition Governance Committee until the formation of Visa Inc. in May 2007. From 1993 to 1997, while Mr. Saunders was at Household International, Mr. Saunders served as a member of the boards of MasterCard International Inc. and MasterCard U.S.A., and was elected Chairman of MasterCard International’s board in 1996. He also served as a director of NewStar Financial, Inc. from December 2006 to October 2007.
A Chicago native, Saunders holds both a B.S. in business administration and an MBA from the University of Denver. He remains active in alumni activities and serves as chairman of the board for Teach For All, the Global Network for Expanding Educational Opportunity.