Most payments executives found themselves pulled to the center of a perfect storm this year, and Pamela Joseph, U.S. Bancorp's vice chairman of payment services, has weathered it remarkably well.

"She's impressed me as much as ever, if not more," said Richard Davis, the Minneapolis company's chairman and chief executive. "Pam has continued to power through on developing innovation and next-generation products in the space, even when a lot of others would have just battened down and waited for the weather to pass."

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