40 Under 40 2019 | Justin Higgs

Justin Higgs’ ability to translate complex issues, such as privacy and consolidating information, in a way that is easy to understand without oversimplifying has helped PayPal navigate a wide range of threats. Just as crucially, his proven track record of building credibility with the media has been instrumental in showcasing and advancing PayPal’s purpose-driven mission and values in the press. 

As director of reputation risk management, Higgs is excellent at responding to unexpected issues in real time, but some of his most impressive contributions are in how he anticipates and addresses impending risks before they surface. For example, he helped PayPal develop its scenario planning process to prepare for emerging questions around data management, security and free speech. In the past year, the company banned a number of alt-right and white supremacist groups that violated the company’s acceptable use policy, which prohibits promoting hate. Higgs was instrumental in leading the team managing that decision and oversaw much of the communication around it. He also worked closely with business leaders to analyze the reputation risks, ultimately encouraging PayPal to take a stand, and helped craft the company’s position in a way that could be easily communicated to journalists. 

"Justin’s courage and leadership helps us to act quickly and decisively at times when rapid response is needed," said Franz Paasche, PayPal’s SVP of corporate affairs. "He works collaboratively across our team and with our corporate leaders to frame the issues and the necessary conversations, and he ensures a clear approach supported by detailed, updated information. The enormous credibility he has built inside and outside the company speaks to his outstanding character and the candor and clarity of his communications. He is one of the best reputation risk management professionals I’ve ever worked with." 

  • Higgs started his career working for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in California.
  • He graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a degree in political science and communications and earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of San Francisco. 
  • Before joining PayPal, Higgs worked at Chevron for seven years. During that time, he bridged the legal team and business units.

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