Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, is in Las Vegas for CES this week to not only speak on the “C Space Storytellers: CMO Panel” (watch the video here) but also meet with vendors and partners and check out what’s next in AI, AR and other technologies that are impacting consumers’ lives and Mastercard’s businesses around the world.
He also took time to chat with Interbrand Managing Director Daniel Binns at the show. Check out part one of their conversation, about investing in his team to make them the tech-savvy marketers of Mastercard’s innovation focus and stories around the world—below.
Raja, the topic of your CES panel was “How do marketers need to approach technology as part of their business plan?” Through all of this rapidly evolving tech that we’re seeing here at CES, how does Mastercard as a company—and you as head of marketing and communications—invest in your people to do just that, and to nurture these “superhuman marketers,” as you’ve called them?
Firstly, when I look at the talent pool at Mastercard, I would say we’ve got three distinct buckets.
Bucket number one is classically-trained marketers with a CPG background. They understand brand positioning, brand architecture, consumer psychology, the purchase funnel and so on.
The second bucket of people—contemporary marketers, who understand data, digital, experimentation, dynamic creation, programmatic, all these things. The third pool of talent is people who are coming from outside of marketing into marketing for the first time. They are good at sales or account management or product development or whatever their particular skill set may be.
So we’ve got the people, and each one is very, very good in their respective areas. The second thing is do they understand how a company makes money? What are the drivers of profitability, of revenue, of growth? And what do they need to do in order to impact those in a positive way?
They need, for instance, to also understand finance, technology, digital, data, so what we are trying to do is have people trained across a whole series of programs. Some of the programs are self-study, so there are modules—we have created about 30 different modules just for digital marketing, for example. They can study each module at their own convenience, answer the questions and expand their skills.
With everything moving so rapidly, how do you determine the skills needed?
The whole thing is designed to first administer a questionnaire to assess what you know and what you need to know, and then it gives you the modules that are tailored for you. That way, you don’t have to go through reading up on what you already know. So we have a whole series of self-study modules.
Secondly, in addition to self-study we’re also sending people to training programs. Sometimes we invite someone from the industry to come and conduct a two- or three-day workshop in their area of expertise, or we send people to university. For example, we recently sent a group of people to Yale University to study behavioral economics.
Even as you invest in your people so they have an appreciation of all of the tech-driven changes impacting the business and consumers, they can’t master everything. What’s the role of specialization?
You cannot master all of those things, of course. Even if you are really a creative genius and have an aptitude, you’re not also going to become a finance expert. It’s not going to happen. So you have to place people based on what their aptitude and talent is for, and try to make them aware at least and have a basic understanding, if not expertise, of other areas of our business.
We also put programs in place where there is a rotation, so say, for example, you’re in consumer insights but you need to know digital, we’ll give you a small project to gain more experience in that.
In addition to investing in talent development, how are you thinking differently about your internal structure to support the goals for your people around the world?
We had to give people a lot of exposure (to different skills) and to flatten the organization, so we did that last year, and then we started to place people. In each region we combined marketing and communications into one unified function and put one person in charge of both. For example, in one of our largest regions, the head of communications is also heading up digital marketing. So we are trying to integrate functions, and we have a number of initiatives to help train people. This is my number one focus area.
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