Empowering Women: Inside Mastercard’s Women Leadership Network

On Wednesday 11th October 2023, we held an incredible event at Mastercard’s London office. The event was held in partnership with the Women Leadership Network where attendees had the opportunity to hear from brilliant speakers at Mastercard, and network with employees.

We wanted to get to know more about some of the ladies behind this Women’s Leadership Network and interviewed Jessica Wareing (Director, Open Banking Product Management at Mastercard) and Cecilia Lundh (Director, Open Banking Product Management at Mastercard). Continue reading to find out more about these 2 inspiring ladies and their career journeys.

What is your role at Mastercard and what is your favourite part about your role?

Jessica: I work in Mastercard’s open banking payments product team. Open banking opens up the financial ecosystem and gives consumers with more choice when making a payment or giving access to their financial data. My favourite part of my job is the variety. I work with so many different teams, from user experience to account management or legal and compliance. I also really enjoy meeting with customers.

Cecilia: I am a Product Director for open banking payments, which is a new way to pay – directly from your bank account in a seamless way. I have been in product management pretty much my whole career and my favourite part is the problem-solving aspect and the variety – you interact with clients and prospects as part of new business development, work with developers to build new products, legal and data privacy to get their approval and with marketing for product launches – just to name a few. The flipside is that I can sometimes worry about how I am going to solve a particular problem, but the positives outweigh it.

What was your career journey that led you to your current role?

Jessica: I studied International Business, Finance and Economics at University and whilst I enjoyed the topic, I wasn’t clear what I wanted to do, so I applied for lots of graduate programmes online. I was offered a place on HSBC’s graduate programme. It was great and gave me a variety of experiences across the retail bank. I made some of my best friends there. At HSBC, I really enjoyed working on new technologies and found myself in a range of digital and transformational change roles. My leap into open banking came when I led a global hackathon across 15 different markets with over 100 people. Colleagues created new and innovative solutions to problems that our customers had, using open banking technology.

When I moved to Mastercard I worked with some of our first open banking clients. I loved being hands-on, working with a variety of both large banks, merchants and fintechs. I took this experience and moved into a product role where I could influence how we made our new products and look at ways to scale our existing ones.

Cecilia: I grew up in Sweden and I did natural sciences before studying Engineering Physics at university. In school I was strong in maths and physics, but once I started university I realised that lots of people were streets ahead of me. I thought I’d made a big mistake and feared I was going to fail, but I stayed, and my degree gave me three things; skills in problem-solving and logical reasoning, stand-out since we were only about 10% women on that degree and I got onto a foreign exchange programme with University of California in San Diego. I had a fantastic year in the sun with excellent teachers at their School of Global Policy and Strategy. That in turn took me to London and a first job at a branding agency working for a futurologist – this was shortly after the dotcom boom and the stranger the job title the better. After that I moved to a digital agency and the experience and the contacts I made there meant I got a role at American Express working on their digital platforms. That’s how I found myself working in payments, which led me to JP Morgan and then Mastercard 7 years ago.

What made you want to take part in the Women Leadership Network?

Jessica: The women’s leadership network provides an opportunity to meet a variety of different women from across Mastercard, and share and learn from their experiences. I feel very lucky to be part of the community. I’m part of the network’s ‘society’ focus area, which looks at ways to create opportunities for communities outside of Mastercard.

Cecilia: I have always had great support from other women, managers and peers, during my whole career, especially when I took one maternity leave after another with only 6 months at work in between – and then came back juggling nursery runs for two young kids with a full-time job. Now that my kids are teenagers, I have the time and headspace to give time back and hopefully offer some useful advice and perspective to women in the early stages of their careers and especially those considering a career in tech. I was very excited when I got the chance to organise an event with Girls in Tech and knew straight away which colleagues I’d ask to go on the panel – they did an amazing job.

How does the Women’s Leadership Network support and empower women within Mastercard? Are there specific programs, initiatives, or resources available to members?

Jessica: The women’s leadership network is a global community that helps empower women at all levels of the organisation. The community offers events and networking and discussions on important topics such as fertility and menopause, to confidence in the workplace.

Why do you think it’s important for women to be involved in networks like this?

Jessica: All kind of networks are very important – they can help you to build your own knowledge and brand, and can also help support other people. It’s highly likely that someone has had a similar experience to you and can share their perspective to help you overcome a challenge or experience.

Cecilia: My colleagues and friends at Mastercard – both men and women – are so important to my wellbeing at work and the women’s leadership network is an opportunity to make more connections. The network also runs lots of inspiring events with internal and external speakers, seminars on important topics and mentoring programmes.

What is your biggest piece of advice for anyone looking to break into fintech or work their way up to a job like yours?

Jessica: Don’t worry. Careers are long and if you don’t make the right decision or choice, you will always gain skills and experiences that will help you with your next one.

Cecilia: My advice would be that your first role is probably the very hardest to get and once you are in a job, you’ll build a network that makes it much easier to get the next one. To get that first job, it’s partly a numbers game so put yourself and your CV out there every chance you get. I can’t stress enough that you shouldn’t don’t take rejection personally – all it means is that you didn’t come first place since only a one person can get each job. I am also a big fan of playing to your strengths and talent rather than trying to fix your weaknesses and the Oscar Wilde quote ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken’. Try to make your CV stand out to catch the attention of the recruiter – it could be doing extra courses that are bit different, for me it was neuroscience and anthropology which I took because I was interested in the topics, but it also proved to be great talking points at interviews.

Thank you so much to both Jessica and Cecilia for interviewing with us! Hope you enjoyed the post and feel free to follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn to get the latest info about our future events.

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