Article: AI is an opportunity: Michael Fraccaro, CHRO, Mastercard


AI is an opportunity: Michael Fraccaro, CHRO, Mastercard

Michael Fraccaro, Chief Human Resources Officer of MasterCard shares his insights on integration of business and talent strategies, automation in financial institutions, and issues of cyber security
AI is an opportunity: Michael Fraccaro, CHRO, Mastercard

Michael Fraccaro is the Chief Human Resources Officer of MasterCard. He joined MasterCard in 2012 as Executive Vice President of Human Resources for the company’s Global Products and Solutions (GP&S) business. In this role, he supported the company’s growth in key businesses and markets, and optimized talent programs along with being responsible for leading the global HR integration of new acquisitions and joint ventures. Prior to joining MasterCard, Fraccaro was a core member of the HR leadership team at HSBC Group for nearly 12 years. 

Fraccaro holds a Masters of Applied Science, Communication Management from the University of Technology, Sydney, and a Bachelor of Education from the Australian Catholic University. 

What are the pillars of MasterCard’s business strategy? 

We have three verticals or pillars of strategy. The first is “Grow”, which is how we grow the core of our business, that is, our core products — debit, credit, prepaid and commercial. We focus on the things that really generate revenue and which allow us to invest in different parts of the business. The second part is what we call “Diversify”, in which we look at new markets that we want to operate in or new segments of operations. And the third part of the business strategy is what we call “Build”, which is building new businesses for the future including our consulting business or our day-to-day businesses. So these are the three core elements of our business strategy. 

How have you integrated your business strategy with the people strategy?

When it comes to talent and talent acquisition, our focus is on ensuring that we acquire the right talent and deploy them in the operating markets so that they are closer to the customers. On the ‘diversify’ front of the business strategy, the bigger area of focus for us is acquiring talent with specific skill-sets for which we recruit from technology and consumer good organizations and even from the governments to ensure that we have the right skills, capabilities, and experiences. In the ‘build’ part of the business, over the last few years, we have acquired capabilities along with the businesses. So, when we assess a business, we are not just assessing the technology platform we are acquiring but we also look at the skills-sets we are bringing in — we buy a technology platform along with the capabilities. And we continue to do that around the world. In a nutshell, this is how we are integrating our business and people strategies.

On one hand, automation will take away jobs from banks as it is disrupting the entire gamut of the operating system, however, it will also save banks and overall finance industry billions of money. What do you think will be the inflection point for financial institutions?

Artificial intelligence is pervasive across industries, including retail, and if you think about what’s been happening in the retail space now, you will see a trend — of people going for online retailing and not the physical stores. But when we look at it from MasterCard perspective, there are a couple of things that we note. The first thing is this whole evolution of artificial intelligence, which we consider as an opportunity. We are actually seeing a shift of capabilities into different areas. We have introduced artificial intelligence bots that pick up emails, understand the content and the request, and automatically redirects it to the right person who can resolve it. So that has actually taken the work of eight employees. But these eight workers are not displaced. We get these employees to program these bots and to find other activities or work processes that add value to our ecosystem. From our perspective, automation has had a positive effect on employee engagement because employees are now have an opportunity to get trained in new skill-sets and are focusing on things that actually create more value.

I think what we need to recognize is that people still want the human touch, whether it’s face-to-face or via phone. I think that is something that robots or computers and technology would not be able to eliminate. And I think that the organizations that can really identify this balance will have the winning formula. 

Skills around cyber safety and around analyzing data and analytics are in demand. How is MasterCard investing in such talent and how do you make sure that cyber-attacks are not a threat to your business?

This is a threat to consumers and customers alike, whether it is the banks, governments or merchants. We are focused on this particular area of cyber security given the recent public data breaches, and there are a couple of the ways in which we have built the capability to manage such challenges. What we have been particularly doing is upgrading the skills and knowledge of employees in cyber security. We are leveraging people from different companies to upskill our employees and we also partner with universities that are actually at the forefront of cyber security thinking. But more recently, we have recruited from government agencies like the CIA or the NSA in the US. We have actually been going into such organizations to bring some of that talent to MasterCard. 

How is MasterCard cultivating a culture of diversity and inclusion?

We have programs like “Girls4Tech” education program that aims to inspire the next generation of female technologists. Our goal is to shift and expand the mindset of what it means to be a woman in STEM domains. Globally, the number of women in technology is low and our program goes towards increasing this number. So this is a major priority for us. We also have great benefits in terms of maternity leaves and now we have paternity leave as well, which allows fathers to spend time with the new mothers and support them. And the last thing is the idea of recruitment at mid-career level. We basically have a standard which says that for every job open or job opportunity, there has to be one female candidate. We also have women’s leadership network and “Returnship” program that caters to women who have taken a career break of two or more years, have previous experience at mid-management level ideally gained in technology, financial services, e-commerce, or professional services organizations and who are keen to return to work on a permanent basis. We also have flex-work which basically empowers our employees to focus on the things that matter most to them. So that’s a huge empowerment initiative that we have launched in the last year. 

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Topics: Technology, HR Technology, Diversity

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