Paul Cohen | Influence 100

Paul Cohen 

SVP, Chief Communications Officer 



With contactless card use and other fintech services on the rise, Paul Cohen wants consumers to think of Visa is more than a credit card company.  It’s been more than four years since Cohen left PayPal to take charge of global communications at Visa, returning to a company at which he previously spent more than a decade in the throes of the cashless payment movement. Cohen, who became VP of global corporate communications at PayPal in mid-2015, was previously Visa's SVP of corporate comms and marketing for North America. In the position that brought him back, he reports to Visa CMO Lynne Biggar and is part of the company's operating committee. His role includes responsibility for leading Visa's global communications function and enhancing the Visa brand with issuers, merchants, global consumers, employees, the media and influencers.

Cohen succeeded Michele Quintaglie, who departed Visa in 2016 following considerable flux across the company's marketing and communications department. In 2013, Visa had consolidated the function under Antonio Lucio, which preceded a number of senior comms departures.

While at PayPal, Cohen established the company’s first corporate communications function, managed communications related to its separation from eBay and public listing and oversaw PayPal's culture change initiative focusing on wellness, collaboration, innovation and inclusion. Earlier in his career, he was a partner at FleishmanHillard.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
During the pandemic, our comms team’s work was directly responsible for maintaining employee engagement and productivity well beyond our competitors.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?Challenges: diversity and fighting misinformation. Opportunities: using data/ analytics to shape strategy and perceptions well beyond the basics most do today.

What have you most admired about this industry over the past year?
Resilience in the face of change.

What has most disappointed you about this industry over the past year?
Failure of agencies to adapt quickly. Many seem more focused on hiring named executives who simply want to schmooze or suck up to the C suite at the expense of good work and strategy.

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
Getting outdoors hiking and kayaking. Family.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
Ted Lasso and the Crown. My Spotify playlist: rock and blues.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
A physician.

Sum up 2021 in one word.