Scharf received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and an M.B.A. from New York University. In 1987, barely out of college, Scharf was the youngest professional employee at Commercial Credit Corp. The first person the company had hired directly from college in years, Scharf was in fact still a senior at Johns Hopkins University when he started working there part-time, having sent his résumé to Jamie Dimon through family connections. Six months into the job he was named Dimon’s assistant and “included in every meeting, learning broadly about business and how decisions get made.
As much as Scharf has been mentored by the leading lights of his industry, he has developed a philosophy of his own. In part, that was shaped by his Executive MBA from Stern, which he completed in 1991 and, he said, helped put his work experience into perspective. “In my experience,” he reflected, “good business is all about stepping back, asking questions, and accumulating the expertise to make the best decisions, whether those are business decisions or people decisions.
Scharf, at age 48, took over as the company's CEO in November 2012, succeeded Joseph Saunders. He was also appointed as a board member after increasing the size of the board to eleven members from ten. He has more than 25 years of financial services, payments systems and leadership experience. He was also a director of Visa and its predecessor, Visa U.S.A., from 2003 to 2011. Payments technology company Visa, Inc. (V) revealed in a regulatory filing on Friday that Chief Executive Officer Charles Scharf received a 2013 total compensation of $24.20 million, including base salary, stock grants and incentives in 2013.
Scharf is earning praise from analysts and insiders for breaking with tradition. He has made Visa, No. 238 on the Fortune 500 with $11.8 billion in revenue, more open to merchants and tech innovation. He oversees a network with 2.2 billion cards accepted by 36 million merchants globally. And he has done it with little flash: He mostly avoids press; sources describe him as “all-business.”