As globalization takes a sharp turn from government to business, the issue of global talent mobility rapidly moves up the agenda. In an interview with The HR Digest, Michael Fraccaro, Chief Human Resources Officer at Mastercard, explains the importance of business resource groups and the vital role it plays to deliver real business results.
The HR Digest: Mastercard is said to have a passionate work culture fit for the industry’s most driven workers. To what extent is that down to a successful talent management strategy?
Michael Fraccaro: That’s an interesting way to frame it. I’d say we’re very focused on creating a skilled workforce and leadership pipeline that can execute our strategy. To achieve this we are intentional about sustaining a winning culture with decency at its core. Our ability to do that – and get it right – is our greatest opportunity to grow our business and our people and play a meaningful role in society.
I was at a conference recently and one of the speakers remarked that “Culture hedges against the risk of uncertainty.” That, I think gets to the heart of what the right culture can do. The headlines provide continuous reminders of how the wrong culture can have a devastating impact on a business. By contrast, the right culture can help guide people when they’re faced with situations they haven’t dealt with before. It can help them innovate. It can drive healthy, yet provocative debate. It can empower people to take a point of view and allow the organization to benefit from diverse points of view. Culture can be an enabler and that’s the power we want to unlock at Mastercard.
The HR Digest: A culture of learning seems to be an integral part of your core company values. How do you ensure that 14,800 employees across the globe share the same passion for that philosophy?
Michael Fraccaro: Understanding the trends that are driving change for our business and making sure we innovate our people practices to address those changes is essential to how we compete, succeed and set ourselves apart as a company. We embrace continual learning as a foundational element of our culture. That requires us to invest in developing both current and future skills. We partner with universities to develop curriculum for students and learning programs for our employees in “hot skill” areas like cybersecurity and AI. For example, we worked with Washington University in St. Louis to develop a customized, cyber skills program for employees. We’ve also implemented a mobile learning platform (Degreed) where employees can learn anywhere at any time on any device; and we cross-fertilize talent from acquired companies to share knowledge and best practices.
We’ve also made development conversations a point of emphasis, as an important way to help employees identify, explore and connect with learning opportunities as they navigate their career journey at Mastercard. All these investments are intended to help our employees build skills and “lifelong learning” habits.
The HR Digest: One of Mastercard’s key strengths is its investment in business resource groups and mentoring programs for various subgroups of employees. Tell us about the value added to the company after inducting your employees into these programs.
Michael Fraccaro: Mastercard places a high priority on being a truly inclusive workplace, where everyone has a genuine sense of belonging. One of the ways we bring this to life is through our Business Resource Groups (BRGs). Participating in these groups gives employees an opportunity, and encouragement, to express their diverse opinions and ideas, get involved in projects that might not be a part of their day-to-day jobs and contribute to efforts that make a difference for their colleagues and our business. The BRGs provides them a unique platform to enhance their own cultural awareness, develop leadership skills and network with others.
While many companies have similar groups, we made a conscious decision to make sure our BRGs connect to our business and have the runway to deliver real business results. BRG members have helped develop customer-focused programs, such as our work with the U.S. Treasury Department to provide prepaid cards in place of social security checks for senior citizens. They’ve helped drive the development of mobile payment solutions to promote financial inclusion in emerging markets. They’ve even helped employees connect and build capabilities across generations. Our YoPros BRG offers a reverse mentoring program, where early career employees coach their colleagues in using social media platforms.
It’s about belonging. It’s about everyone having an opportunity to contribute – and knowing that their contributions are welcome. Most importantly, it’s about how all of us can help move the business forward together.
The HR Digest: Can you share with The HR Digest readers some innovative recruiting strategies that allow Mastercard to compete for talent in America and abroad?
Michael Fraccaro: Innovation is central to our business, so it’s only natural that we constantly look at new ways to engage candidates. We’re currently piloting the use of neuroscience games, cutting-edge AI, automated machine learning algorithms and behavioral data in our campus hiring. Not only do these approaches fit with our identity as a technology company, but they can actually help reduce bias in candidate vetting.
Our Tech Hubs in New York City, O’Fallon and San Francisco offer specially-designed office environments for vibrant communities of employees working on our digital payments, cybersecurity and growth initiatives. We also host hackathons and special events geared to coders, developers, designers and entrepreneurs that give employees the opportunity to collaborate on real business challenges on topics beyond their day-to-day roles.
Above all, we believe attracting the right talent comes down to the fundamentals: building relationships and taking opportunities to connect with people. That includes job seekers, professional organizations and students – even those who are in the very early stages of their education. Through programs like Girl 4 Tech, we encourage 10-13 year olds to explore STEM skills and careers. We’re very intentional and proactive about supporting activities that deliver good for the community. We’re always looking for ways we can be a positive influence in the markets where we operate. This is how you get the right people familiar with and interested in your brand.
The HR Digest: What are the core values that influence your decision-making?
Michael Fraccaro: Today’s world is more complex and morally-connected than ever. The role of a leader is definitely subject to greater scrutiny. Decision making and the ability to exercise quality and care in one’s judgment are super important. Having the right values to help you deal with risk and ambiguity, showing resilience in the face of constant change and building the ‘moral muscle’ within your organization to deal with challenging dilemmas is critical. For me, it’s pretty simple…it’s about doing the right thing. I see my role as being less about “command and control” – or where I fit on an org structure – and more about “connecting and collaborating.” That’s a point-of-view that’s shared across our senior leadership team. The decisions we make and the actions we take are predicated on those beliefs and a sincere desire to build a winning culture with decency at its core. Not just because it feels good, but because it’s the right thing to do for society and for our business. There are no short-cuts in management.