HR at Mastercard: cultural transformation, talent development & how to create impact

HQ Asia speaks with Michael Fraccaro, Chief Human Resources Officer at Mastercard about how Mastercard develops its talent pipeline. Read on for specifics on how Mastercard develops talent through programmes as well as evolving HR to drive maximum impact.

How is the HR department at Mastercard driving cultural transformation?

When I think about the culture at Mastercard, it is more than just open-plan collaborative workspaces, scooters in the head office or the posters on the walls. It is really defined by what our people do whether it is during the launch of a new product, at the time of an acquisition or rallying behind a worthwhile cause.

Our CEO has very high expectations for our company and our people. The one way our brand can truly differentiate lies in offering technology that makes the purchase experience smoother for customers and merchants. And so, from the very beginning, innovation has been a priority.

To drive this change HR had to review its recruitment approach and in particular where we source talent. Typically, we recruited talent from traditional sources like our customer banks and other payment companies. However, we knew that if we were to be successful in the long-term, we had to change and begin looking at talent from other industries such as merchants, consumer packaged goods, technology, consultancies and government. Over 60% of hiring at Mastercard now comes from these sources. The culture changes quickly when people are brought in with different backgrounds and experiences.

We also have been more active in MBA recruitment and college hiring programme so that we can build and nurture our talent around the world. One of the great experiences we offer new hires is the opportunity to visit the headquarters in New York for a one-week onboarding programme where they get to meet and listen to our leaders-- including the CEO-- in person.  For our MBA cohorts, we offer at least one rotations in the 18-month programme to be an overseas assignment. We believe that to be a truly global company, our talent needs to be enabled to cultivate networks and understanding of how we operate in markets outside their home country.

The other initiative we have launched recently is “The Whole You” whose purpose is to help employees to grow at both a personal and professional level. Mastercard encourages its employees to diversify their experiences and develop their skills in different ways. We also offer global benefits that apply to people at the various stages of their life.

Can you describe how an HR operating model can drive impact and effectiveness?

An HR Model needs to adapt to current and future business needs. The current HR operating model at Mastercard is broadly on the right path. We have HR business partners (HRBPs), shared service, centres of excellence and we have driven self-service enablement by technology for employees and managers. Positive indicators and feedback from our customers include:

  • HRBPs truly valued by the business and have a seat at the table.
  • Centres of excellence (COEs) have strong capabilities and put together innovative initiatives.
  • Single source of truth for key metrics and data in our shared service center.
  • High employee usage, adoption and satisfaction with self-service.

But the model needs to shift further to address two major needs:

  • Strategic thought partnership to better address changing business needs.
  • Less complexity in HR’s service delivery to make getting HR work done efficiently.

 You could describe us as having a high-touch model in a matrix organisation where involving and informing people is common practice but gets in the way of speedy decision-making.

I plan to address these two major needs noted above by:

  • Build distinctive capability in talent strategy and planning and organisation. development, which are the areas that will drive the most business impact.
  • Make current HR roles more specific, enabling different parties to deliver on different business needs with even clearer roles, responsibilities and accountability.

The success of this ongoing transition depends upon changes in behaviours and capabilities from everyone in HR and from our end-users. This will be a two-year journey starting now.

What talent development programmes does Mastercard have in place in the Southeast Asian region?

Talent and Leadership Development is a very important people priority for Mastercard globally. We have targeted development programmes for employees across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, which has many emerging markets with significant growth potential and business opportunities for Mastercard.  Below are some key highlights around our talent development programmes in APAC:

For early career talent:

1.   Mastercard Graduate Development Program (MGDP): Two-year flagship programme to bring on high caliber campus recruits and grow them as our future leaders offering them diverse experiences and an accelerated career path. The participants also get international exposure through a three-month short-term assignment in another APAC office. This programme is well established in Singapore and India currently, and it is being expanded to China and Australia later this year.

2.    International Markets Rotation Program: a six-months rotation programme to diversify talent by accelerating the growth of high-potential (HiPo) employees through an international assignment stretching their capabilities in order to grow a global mind-set; gain meaningful experiences operating in a different region or market in order to develop broader culture awareness, sensitivities and awareness.

This programme also allows us to create cross-fertilisation of knowledge and skills across regions and markets and drive career progression and to build the “next generation” of talent with diversity of thought with fresh thinking and innovation.

3.   NTUC (National Trade Union Congress) & EDB (Economic Development Board) U Future Leaders Programme - We are also one of the pilot companies signed up to support the Singapore government’s U Future Leaders Programme which will provide global exposure for early to mid-career employees through 12-24 months’ international assignment.

For emerging leaders (mid-career talent):

1.    LeadershipNOW: An immersive and simulation-based learning programme run in every region globally. The APAC session, held in Singapore annually, fosters a community of emerging leaders, builds skills to enable them to be an agile leader and lead positive change.

2.   Global-Asia Leadership Acceleration Program – We partner with Human Capital Leadership Institute (HCLI) to have our emerging leaders participate in their Global-Asia Leadership Accelerator Program that focuses on helping the emerging leaders on various of leadership aspects: overcoming fears, articulating aspirations, navigating complexity, thriving in ambiguity; embracing cultures, reconciling differences, communicating to stakeholders, and engaging with impact.

For senior leaders:

  1. Executive Leadership Programme: one-week residential in-house programme run in New York for all our senior and executive management leaders.
  2. Singapore Business Leaders Program – one-week residential programme run by HCLI for C-suite leaders across different industries in Singapore.
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