IDEN­TI­FY­ING OP­POR­TU­NI­TIES

MASTERCARD AND ANN CAIRNS’ QUEST FOR AN IN­CLU­SIVE FU­TURE

CEO Middle East - - CONTENTS -

The first thing that comes to mind is that you were the first woman in the UK to work off­shore on an oil rig. What led to the move into bank­ing? Are there any par­al­lels you’ve found be­tween the two at all?

When I first started out in en­gi­neer­ing, I was en­ter­ing a male­dom­i­nated in­dus­try. The same was true when I chose to trans­fer to the fi­nan­cial sec­tor; how­ever, this was not an is­sue for me at all. Both ar­eas present out­stand­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, and it’s vi­tal to seize the mo­ment when­ever these arise. As fe­male ex­ec­u­tives, we should never place any self-im­posed lim­its on the scale of our am­bi­tion – re­gard­less of per­ceived chal­lenges. If we are de­ter­mined enough, we can iden­tify op­por­tu­ni­ties, com­mit to our goals and re­alise our dreams. There is only one way to suc­cess­fully drive change, and that is to lead it.

How has your role changed now from when you were global pres­i­dent of in­ter­na­tional mar­kets?

Over­all, the fo­cus has be­come even more strate­gic. I’m happy to say I am over­see­ing sev­eral global ini­tia­tives that are close to my heart, in­clud­ing in­clu­sion and the em­pow­er­ment of women both within the com­pany, and in the com­mu­ni­ties it serves. My work takes me around the world to ex­plore and de­velop fresh pro­jects and op­por­tu­ni­ties with se­nior part­ners,

foun­da­tions and gov­ern­ments. As an am­bas­sador for Mastercard, it is my role to spread the word on the ben­e­fits of our in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions and how these can be lever­aged to con­nect and em­power cit­i­zens, up­lift com­mu­ni­ties and drive greater fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion. On a per­sonal level, it’s highly re­ward­ing to wit­ness the pos­i­tive so­cial im­pact of Mastercard’s on­go­ing global ef­forts to be a force for good and make a dif­fer­ence in peo­ple’s lives.

In your time at Mastercard, have you seen an im­prove­ment in terms of gen­der equal­ity in the work­place?

Gen­der equal­ity has al­ways been a top global pri­or­ity for Mastercard. The com­pany has a long his­tory of en­gag­ing, en­abling and em­pow­er­ing women, and con­tin­ues to make sig­nif­i­cant strides. I’m very pleased to see the num­ber of women in key lead­er­ship roles in­crease sig­nif­i­cantly dur­ing my seven-year ten­ure as Global Pres­i­dent of In­ter­na­tional Mar­kets, with the per­cent­age of fe­male Coun­try Man­agers ris­ing to 31 per­cent. Here in the Mid­dle East and Africa re­gion, more than 50 per­cent of our new hires last year were fe­male. Mastercard was ranked fourth on Di­ver­sity Inc’s 2018 list of the top 50 most di­verse com­pa­nies, ris­ing from sev­enth po­si­tion last year – a highly en­cour­ag­ing step on our path to­wards re­al­is­ing our vi­sion of an equal fu­ture.

What is the most im­por­tant as­pect of gen­ders work­ing equally in the work­place that the world and its em­ploy­ers need to em­brace? Or­gan­i­sa­tions around the world are re­al­is­ing that a di­verse work­force is crit­i­cal to driv­ing in­no­va­tion and main­tain­ing a com­pet­i­tive edge. When men and women come to­gether with a com­mon pur­pose and a shared vi­sion, we can make a col­lec­tive im­pact and help to create a fairer, more eq­ui­table world for all. We ex­plored this theme of unity re­cently at our ‘To­gether We Lead’ fo­rum in Dubai, an ini­tia­tive or­gan­ised by Mastercard’s Women Lead­er­ship Net­work. Events such as these are cru­cial in driv­ing equal­ity, in­spir­ing suc­cess and em­pow­er­ing fe­male lead­ers to scale new heights. Mastercard re­mains at the fore­front of this move­ment, hav­ing made di­ver­sity, in­clu­sion and op­por­tu­nity top pri­or­i­ties glob­ally.

In an ear­lier in­ter­view, you were de­scribed as some­one who could make a com­pli­cated task seem straight­for­ward. How do you do that, boil a com­plex project down to its ba­sics?

Dur­ing my en­gi­neer­ing days, I found the process of fix­ing things fas­ci­nat­ing. My in­ter­est lay in see­ing how ev­ery­thing fit­ted to­gether and de­vel­op­ing in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions, and this same ap­proach can also be ap­plied to the fi­nan­cial and pay­ments tech­nol­ogy in­dus­tries. Over­com­ing com­plex chal­lenges is like play­ing a game of chess. You need to care­fully think through ev­ery de­ci­sion you make, con­sider your next move, and an­tic­i­pate the out­come for each course of ac­tion to suc­cess­fully reach your goal.

What one les­son has helped you in your ca­reer the most?

Early in my ca­reer, I re­alised the im­por­tance of keep­ing an open mind and em­brac­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties and ex­pe­ri­ences. I am very for­tu­nate, in that my work has taken me to all cor­ners of the globe, en­abling me to con­nect with all kinds of peo­ple from di­verse cul­tures and back­grounds.

This taught me to recog­nise the true na­ture of di­ver­sity – that all the lit­tle things that make us dif­fer­ent are, in fact, as­sets. By fos­ter­ing a cul­ture of in­clu­sion, we can lever­age peo­ple’s unique abil­i­ties and per­spec­tives to drive in­no­va­tion and build a bet­ter to­mor­row, where ev­ery­one has the op­por­tu­nity to reach their full po­ten­tial. That’s some­thing truly price­less! Also, I strongly be­lieve in the im­por­tance of spon­sors. Men­tors teach you how to do things, they give you the tools and con­fi­dence to do it. A spon­sor is there to be your cheer­leader, your sup­porter – he or she will help you to break down bar­ri­ers. Spon­sors help you to reach the next level in your ca­reer and per­sonal life.

“OVER­COM­ING COM­PLEX CHAL­LENGES IS LIKE PLAY­ING A GAME OF CHESS. YOU NEED TO CARE­FULLY THINK THROUGH EV­ERY DE­CI­SION YOU MAKE, CON­SIDER YOUR NEXT MOVE, AND AN­TIC­I­PATE THE OUT­COME FOR EACH COURSE OF AC­TION TO SUC­CESS­FULLY REACH YOUR GOAL”

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