Mastercard Vice President, Employee Digital Experience
Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School Master of Business Administration (MBA), Business
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Mastercard Vice President, Employee Digital Experience
Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School Master of Business Administration (MBA), Business
Summarized By: Bejoy Mathew on Fri Aug 28 2020
I did my Masters in computer science, and then right after the master's degree, I joined an IT organization, back in Bangalore, India. With that job, I got good exposure to some of the digital technologies, at the early stages of client-server and digital technologies. I got so passionate in that area, and then I started, evolving my career in digital. As part of that career progression, after working a few years in India, I moved to the US. In the US, I started working with the consulting industry. I had a few years of consulting career with organizations like Gardner, Acxiom, and IBM. After that, I joined MasterCard initially as a consultant, and then later I took a full-time career opportunity and the last 18 years I am with MasterCard. 

What responsibilities and decisions does one handle in a job like yours? Tell us about weekly work hours, including the time spent on work travel and working from home.

Mastercard Vice President, Employee Digital Experience
Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School Master of Business Administration (MBA), Business
Summarized By: Bejoy Mathew on Thu Aug 27 2020
So currently my job is focused on driving the best employee experience for MasterCard employees from a digital perspective. So part of that I have responsibility for managing some of the cloud-based software as a service technology SaaS platforms. I also lead a service related to people analytics and also an internal product development. How we use data to drive Data-driven decisions for the organization that includes both the talent and employee experience related decisions. The People Analytics program, partnering with the HR organization, and the employee experience related decisions partnering with my own leadership. Timing is pretty flexible as you probably see most of the technology companies. It's more about the outcome, right? So we have a pretty flexible schedule. We also have a global team. So depends on the need, sometimes you start your little early as you may have calls with your global teams and sometime you may need to stay a little late to finishing some deliverables or assignments. But in general, I would say it's a pretty flexible and fun work environment focused on the outcome.

What are the challenges in a job like yours? What approaches are effective in dealing with these challenges? Discussing examples will help students learn better.

Mastercard Vice President, Employee Digital Experience
Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School Master of Business Administration (MBA), Business
Summarized By: Bejoy Mathew on Fri Aug 28 2020
The technology industry and digital space itself is going through a major transformation. So you have to stay on top of that in terms of what is changing in the industry? Does it make sense? Is it too early? Is it mature enough to adopt a certain technology or channel? Also having a constant focus and a good understanding of what's happening in the industry and bringing that "outside-in" perspective and connecting that with your current need. So that requires some research and some external consulting. A clear understanding of what are some of the key areas that require new solutions, prioritization aspects, and the ability to adapt and bring new solutions in a secure and scalable manner. So a lot of things we focus, It's not just about finding a tool and launching that tool it's more about validating and answering questions say, is that the right solution? Is that architected well? Is that going to provide a secure solution? how is this tool or the solution going to evolve? So managing that whole journey with an end to end understanding of the need, prioritizing, aligning the talent, and then focusing on that end to end value delivery, that's the opportunity. That presents its own challenges too.

What are the job titles of people who someone in your role routinely works with, within and outside of the organization? What approaches are effective in working with them?

Mastercard Vice President, Employee Digital Experience
Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School Master of Business Administration (MBA), Business
Summarized By: Bejoy Mathew on Fri Aug 28 2020
You know, in general, it depends on the nature of your project. Normally, you'll be interacting with a variety of different roles. I spent a lot of time with my team in terms of making sure they're working on the right things, I'm learning from them, they're learning from me, coaching the team, giving them the right opportunities, career conversations, innovation, and solution discussions. So I am pretty involved in that process. Secondly, I spent a lot of time with leadership discussions. Strategy, planning, investment decisions, prioritization, value communication, etc. Another area I invest my time is with the core business partners. Building that relation, gaining that trust, and that value partnership, right? So, I would say team, leadership, and business partners are the areas I invest the majority of my time.

How would you describe your management style? How has it evolved over the years? Can you tell about experiences or books that influenced your management style?

Mastercard Vice President, Employee Digital Experience
Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School Master of Business Administration (MBA), Business
Summarized By: Bejoy Mathew on Fri Aug 28 2020
I'm more like, "collaborate and deliver style". So, I like to closely involved in the discussion and decision-making process. Typically, if I'm free, I will be with the team and like to learn more about what's happening and be part of that collaboration. I strongly feel "collaborate and deliver" style is needed in the industry and that has a better outcome. 

How do you manage conflicts within and across teams? How do you promote trust, openness and a healthy work culture? Sharing stories will greatly help.

Mastercard Vice President, Employee Digital Experience
Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School Master of Business Administration (MBA), Business
Summarized By: Bejoy Mathew on Fri Aug 28 2020
I think, when it comes to people management and team management, there is going to be obviously different scenarios where you hear different opinions. One thing that helps me with those scenarios is applying critical thinking for conflict resolution. As part of my business school, I took a class on critical thinking. That sort of influenced me. So as I hear concerns and complaints, I would like to take a step back and to define the problem and to get a 360 view. Gaining different points of view and factoring all those to a decision is important. So you are not just focusing on what you hear but you are bringing a different perspective and giving everyone a voice. When you create an environment where the team is comfortable enough to transparently share their point of view and many times having those conversations will lead to resolving concerns themselves. I think that ecosystem is more important and you need to build that ecosystem. You need to earn that trust, whether that is your team, leadership, or business partners, right? So to me, creating that open, transparent culture on then building that partnership, earning that trust is key. 

What indicators are used to track performance in a job like yours? Think of the indicators such as key performance indicators (KPIs), objectives & key results (OKRs), or so on.

Mastercard Vice President, Employee Digital Experience
Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School Master of Business Administration (MBA), Business
Summarized By: Bejoy Mathew on Fri Aug 28 2020
There are two key aspects of performance management. One is your specific job related performance. The projects, tasks, or initiatives you lead, contribute right? Most of the organizations will have a formal system to measure that against the objectives. So that's pretty standard. On top Of that, you also need to have a mechanism where you're also measuring the talent in terms of their potential and team fit aspects. How he or she influence the team and make the team better, how the talent builds different skills that sort of contribute to the longer term needs. 

What skills and qualities do you look for while hiring? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Mastercard Vice President, Employee Digital Experience
Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School Master of Business Administration (MBA), Business
Summarized By: Bejoy Mathew on Fri Aug 28 2020
It depends on the job, right? Obviously, you need to evaluate them specifically based on their job skills. So if I'm hiring a data scientist, I need to be focused on measuring data science-related knowledge of that candidate. On top of that, I try to evaluate from a few different angles, some of the soft skills and values that I mentioned earlier. The team fit aspect is important, by adding that talent to the team, how the team dynamics are going to change? Is the team going to get better with that talent? I will also try to present a few scenarios to evaluate them on how they react to certain unique scenarios. 

Can you discuss career accomplishment(s) that you feel good about? Please discuss the problem context, your solution, and the impact you made.

Mastercard Vice President, Employee Digital Experience
Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School Master of Business Administration (MBA), Business
Summarized By: Bejoy Mathew on Fri Aug 28 2020
When I reflect on my career accomplishments, I won't specifically focus on the projects' perspective, but I would focus on what makes me happy and proud. It's more from a talent standpoint. You know, when you find the right talent, develop them and when you see them growing in the organization, that's a fantastic feeling. I was fortunate to work on a lot of projects that are aligned with the force for good space and seeing the value and impact of those initiatives is pretty fulfilling. Then the third, I would say, the ability to work on new, first in the market, innovative, and complex things.

What responsibilities and decisions did you handle at work? What were the challenges? What strategies were effective in dealing with these challenges?

Mastercard Vice President, Employee Digital Experience
Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School Master of Business Administration (MBA), Business
Based on experience at: Technical Consultant, Gartner
Summarized By: Bejoy Mathew on Fri Aug 28 2020
I think it should start with the business problem right? What problem you are trying to solve? Understand the true business context and what are the underlying problems that contribute to that challenge and then try to fix it at the source. I think the ability to look at from a strategic long term solution perspective, and then break that down into more tactical components where you can get there in an incremental/phased manner. Always try to bring a comprehensive view by balancing "outside-in" and "inside out" to get to a better solution. 

What starting job (after internship) would you recommend to students who hope to grow professionally like you? What other parting advice, dos, and don'ts would you give?

Mastercard Vice President, Employee Digital Experience
Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School Master of Business Administration (MBA), Business
Summarized By: Bejoy Mathew on Fri Aug 28 2020
Having a clear idea and passion for your career path is important at least from a domain perspective. For example, I want to become the best technologist out there or I want to be a creative person or an innovator. Try to identify an organization aligned with your personal and professional values. So you feel really proud of that company highly aligned with your core values. Be open to learning, especially in the initial years learning is supercritical. So try to be part of an organization that gives you the learning opportunity and learn as much as you can in the first few years. Then with that learning, try to shape your career path.