Mastercard Emblem copy

How Mastercard created priceless career development opportunities

93%

of Mastercard’s executive team is registered on their talent marketplace

75%

of Mastercard’s workforce is registered on the platform

$21,000,000

in unlocked productivity

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mastercard began matching employees to high-priority tasks through an internal initiative known as Project Possible. After recognizing the immense value of an employee-led approach to career development, Mastercard sought out a robust solution to launch an internal marketplace that would increase access to opportunities and ensure their workforce is prepared for the future of work. By rolling out their talent marketplace, Unlocked, Mastercard empowered all 24,000 of their people to expand their horizons.

Overview

  • Headquarters: Purchase, NY
  • Brands & products: Global payments technology
  • Company Size: 24,000
  • Founding year: 1966
  • Industry type: Financial services
  • Website: www.mastercard.us

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Their mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone by making transactions safe, smart, and accessible. Using secure data and networks, their innovations help individuals, financial institutions, governments, and businesses achieve their greatest potential. Mastercard’s decency quotient, or DQ, drives their culture and everything they do. With connections across more than 80 countries, Mastercard aims to build a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

The background

Mastercard’s talent marketplace journey began with a once-in-a-lifetime call-to-action. At a remote town hall meeting during the early days of COVID-19, the company’s then-CEO asked employees one crucial question: “How can we step up to help our customers?” He went on to explain that during such uncertain times, people needed guidance and many were looking to Mastercard to help them determine how to best move forward. 

Following his talk, 450 employees immediately volunteered to help. The influx of people who raised their hands to participate planted the seeds for Project Possible. The new initiative empowered employees to get involved in company-wide projects across priority areas of the business. A dedicated site on Mastercard’s intranet provided resources for onboarding and engaging volunteers, and HR leaders used Excel spreadsheets to manually match people to relevant opportunities.

Project Possible’s early success shed light on a much larger opportunity to build on the strength of Mastercard’s culture. After two waves of manually matching employees to opportunities during the spring of 2020, Mastercard decided to scale up its initiative so that every employee could take part in it. As Lucrecia Borgonovo, Mastercard’s Chief Talent and Organizational Effectiveness Officer, notes, “Based on the success that we got from Project Possible, we realized that if we wanted to do this at scale and embed it in our organization’s DNA, we needed to do something more sophisticated, so we started looking for solutions. 

Project Possible supported their people-first approach and empowered employees to develop their careers with the business.

mastercard 1

The goals

In order to scale a talent marketplace, Mastercard’s leaders developed a handful of goals to guide their initiative. These objectives included:

  • Developing a future-fit workforce
  • Connecting employees across the organization
  • Increasing career development opportunities
  • Unlocking capacity

Developing a future-fit workforce

Like many organizations, Mastercard’s business priorities profoundly changed during COVID-19. Some employees saw their workloads dramatically increase, while others were underutilized. But Chief Talent and Organizational Effectiveness Officer Lucrecia Borgonovo knew what today’s most insightful leaders understand: that the pandemic’s disruption isn’t a one-off change: volatility and rapid transformation will continue to be a constant in the new world of work. Consequently, Mastercard sought to ensure their workforce has access to opportunities to dynamically learn new skills as demands and priorities shift.

Now that disruption is the new norm, we really need employees to be on top of their game. They need to stay current, stay relevant, learn new skills, and become agile.

Lucrecia Borgonovo, Chief Talent and Organizational Effectiveness Officer

Connecting employees across the organization

With over 24,000 employees globally, cultivating a sense of connectivity is a top priority for Mastercard, especially when remote working became more prevalent during the pandemic’s onset. Heather Yurko, Vice President of Digital Talent, explores these challenges, noting, “We needed to ask, ‘How can we connect people, especially during a pandemic?’ We have people joining constantly and we have phenomenal growth – but we’re not able to fully integrate everyone to our ways of working and to each other.’”

The organization’s recent expansion further cemented uniting employees as a crucial objective. According to Yurko, “It was the same question for our mergers and acquisitions coming in: how can we bring new employees into Mastercard’s culture and introduce them to buddies in a meaningful way, one that’s going to match what they’re looking for?”

Increasing career development opportunities

Mastercard’s talent matching initiative underscored the immense value of an employee-led approach to career development. As Michael Fraccaro, Chief People Officer, explains, “Our employees told us they want more opportunities to grow and develop themselves. We listened and worked to build a program that makes career and development opportunities readily available to everyone.”

As the war for talent intensifies, it has become more important than ever to put employees in the driver’s seat of their careers. “Our employees’ expectations around career growth and advancement are changing,” Borgonovo summarizes, “In light of this, how do we encourage people to think about lifelong learning? How do we empower them to take ownership of their careers and think about their growth in a different way?

Unlocking capacity

As an organization that is committed to being people-first, Mastercard wanted to ensure that their workforce’s future with their business is bright. To unlock capacity, leaders prioritized a solution that would provide visibility into new projects and areas of the business. 

“Our goal was to help employees build the skills, experience, and connections that they need to fulfill their longer-term ambitions while delivering for today,” Fraccaro explains. “When people post a project on Unlocked [powered by Gloat], they are tapping into the full talent pool at Mastercard.”

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The solution

With their goals identified, Mastercard began searching for a solution to match employees to relevant projects at scale, minus the heavy manual lift. Their ideal platform would go beyond their immediate needs, cultivating a unified career development experience comprised of opportunities to learn, volunteer, participate in mentoring, and build future-fit skills. 

Leaders decided to evaluate a handful of different opportunity marketplace providers before choosing Gloat. In discussing the factors that influenced their decision, Yurko explains, “What we learned from the conversations we had with Gloat was that they were thinking holistically about where the platform was going to go. It’s not just about our immediate needs, but also our longer-term vision.” As a self-described “data nerd,” Yurko notes that in-depth analytics was yet another factor that worked in Gloat’s favor. “We could see the data, get a pulse on activity, and see what our people are looking for – so we can ensure that we’re providing the right opportunities.”

Following their decision, Mastercard partnered with Gloat’s Change Enablement team to develop a phased launch plan. Unlocked (what Mastercard named their talent marketplace), was introduced to a group of approximately 8,000 early adopters between May and December of 2021. After the platform’s initial success, Unlocked was then rolled out to Mastercard’s entire workforce of over 24,000 people at the start of 2022. 

Projects were the first type of opportunities Mastercard introduced on Unlocked. Since volunteering is supported by the organization, service initiatives were included in their talent marketplace. As Yurko explains, ““We emphasize ‘Doing well by doing good’ at Mastercard. Volunteering is important for us here, so we asked ourselves, could we turn that into Projects? Is that something that we could promote, as it’s so meaningful and important – and a deeper part of the Mastercard culture?”

Rather than letting rank or seniority dictate mentoring pairings, Mastercard’s approach matches mentors to mentees based on skills and experiences. In describing their strategy, Borgonovo explains, “We’ve had a number of really interesting mentoring experiences. We have been trying to demystify mentoring through our opportunity marketplace. We’re telling people that mentoring isn’t just about career advancement, we’re trying to position mentoring as more skill-based and domain knowledge-based.”

Mastercard recently introduced Gloat’s Career Pathing to maximize the game-changing impact that their opportunity marketplace is having. Leaders believe that Career Agility will further empower employees to stay at the helm of their career progression. “The key attractor for us is that Career Journeys is about the possibilities. You start to see different career paths that you didn’t even know existed inside of your own company,” says Yurko. Within the first month of launching Career Pathing to employees, 17% of users have leveraged the functionality and are using it as part of their career development conversations with their managers.

Results

93%

of Mastercard’s Executive team is registered on their talent marketplace

75%

of Mastercard’s workforce is registered on the platform

$ 0

in savings through internal mobility

0

hours unlocked

Mastercard is developing a future-fit workforce and unlocking capacity. The organization ensured their company-wide rollout started off strong by launching Unlocked on a meeting-free day so that employees could have more time to get familiar with it. Since leadership participation sets the tone for enterprise-wide adoption, they also encouraged all of their executives to join the platform. “It’s just incredible to see the ingenuity of some of our leaders in terms of how they leverage the platform, whether they have somebody that is going on leave or how they think about breaking up open jobs into smaller projects,” Borgonovo notes. To date, more than 93% of leaders are registered on Unlocked and Mastercard’s CEO even selected a mentee through the platform, which was then announced during a town hall to ensure the program is visible to all. 

Mastercard’s strategic launch is already paying off.  In Yurko’s words, “One of the things that we saw almost immediately upon opening up the talent marketplace was people’s feedback on being able to meet people that they had never known and being able to do work that they had never even known existed within the company. From the beginning, we had very high rates of cross-functional and cross-regional partnerships.”

Less than one month after their global roll-out, Mastercard surpassed a 50% adoption rate, a KPI that typically takes businesses at least six months to achieve. The organization also has a growing number of impact stories and quotes that speak to Unlocked’s unparalleled success.

As one of Mastercard’s Product Delivery Directors notes, “Through my Unlocked experience, I’m learning how to combine two passions, data analytics and financial inclusion for the underserved.”  Similarly, a Communications Director describes how the platform has enabled her to make a meaningful difference, explaining, “Until now I honestly wasn’t sure how I could be an impactful ally, but when I saw the Racial Justice Pro Bono opportunity on Unlocked, it felt like a fantastic chance to address this and give back by leveraging my skills.”

The talent marketplace has also enabled employees to quickly get up to speed as Mastercard moves into new markets. When the organization decided to focus on cryptocurrency and NFTs, they tapped into the platform to help subject matter experts share key information. As Yurko explains, “There was a project created to build an NFT community and to ask someone to be a facilitator and to bring this community together to share information about cryptocurrency, NFTs, and some of the latest trends we’re seeing. Having that built really helped bring people together in a new and different way to learn as a community.”

Reflecting on the profound changes that their opportunity marketplace has already set into motion, Fraccaro says,

With Unlocked, we can collaborate across regions and business units, uncover new ideas, challenge assumptions, and push one another to think in bold new ways. Unlocked is allowing us to open up the boundaries of our teams and expand our talent reach to ultimately grow and develop with each other.

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