Meet the Women of MasterCard

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We interviewed a few incredible women at the technology company on the newest tech trends and how to scale a company internationally.

We are thrilled to be partnering with MasterCard on April 29th to host a free networking event for both men and women in tech in San Jose. The technology company, founded in 1966, has become one of the biggest players in the global payments industry. Award-winning marketing campaigns (Priceless /#PricelessSurprises), MasterCard Labs (the company’s R&D division) and enabling mobile payments are only a few examples of the incredible innovation and creativity that keeps MasterCard relevant and on the front edge of the technology scene.

We interviewed four incredible women from various departments at MasterCard, including marketing, IT and business operations, and asked them a bit about what inspires their work, the changes they expect to see in their field within the next 20 years and whether they think that young girls and women are exposed enough to the more technical positions they hold. Here’s what they had to say (answers have been lightly edited for brevity):

Meet Jenny Zhang Principle Consultant , Information Security MasterCard Operations & Technology

In what ways have you seen technology systems transform while at MasterCard? JennyZhangSQ

MasterCard is a technology company that provides payment services around world. Technology systems are backbone of our business. We continuously work to transform IT at MasterCard through an evolution of physical infrastructure, enterprise service architecture, security, emerging technology, e-Commerce and consumer strategy, as well as our core systems. Technology transformation has allowed MasterCard to continue to excel and become globally known as a trusted payments leader for our products and services.

How do you prepare for those technical transitions?

These days, with technology changing so rapidly, it can be challenging to keep up with the changes – but it’s a must for our industry. We make it easier by approaching the changes with agility, keeping an eye on the bigger picture and being open to new ways of doing things, which makes it easier as we continue to evolve.

What future technology/technologies do you think will affect MasterCard and similar companies in the next 10 years and why? 

It’s hard to say - since new technologies happen every day! However, I’m interested in seeing how mobile and cloud technologies will change the payment industry, and what they’ll help enable. And, big data technologies are interesting – I think they’ll push enterprise data management to new levels and potentially open new business opportunities. It’s definitely a space to watch.

Why did you choose to study IT? Do you think young girls are exposed enough to IT today?

I was pretty good at math and physics when I was in high school, so choosing an engineering school for college was no-brainer for me. After I got my B.S and M.S in Computer Science, I was so engaged in the field that I never wanted to do anything else!

Young girls today have a lot more exposure to technology than I did growing up. Things like smart phones, tablets, and laptops are part of their daily life. High schools are offering Java programming classes as part of their regular curriculum. And, the online gaming industry is drawing more people to technology and computer sciences than ever before.

One challenge that I do see is that statistics show that girls, for whatever reason, are shying away from technology fields (and STEM curriculum) field when going to college. We as a community have to do a better job of encouraging young women to study and make a contribution to IT.

Meet Kim Martin Senior Vice President, Commercial andEmerging Solutions MasterCard Operations & Technology

What trends in fin-tech do you think will arise in the next 20 years? kim

It’s really an exciting time in fin-tech – technology changes literally every day! In 20 years, I think that the devices we use will continue to evolve and that eventually, anything could be a payment device. It’s beyond the devices we think of now - I think refrigerators, water softeners, anything in the home where you need to reorder or replace things can be an order and payment device going forward.

Are POS systems, like Square, influencing the way MasterCard and other global financial services corporations do business? If yes, how so?

There are a lot of new players in the industry, and we certainly are watching them. They’re bringing change to our industry – and that’s important, because we have to be able to meet evolving consumer needs. While some of these technologies make it easier to process the payment itself, merchants still need an acquiring relationship. This is where offerings like MasterCard’s Simplify Commerce really fill a niche that wasn’t being addressed.

Do you think enough girls are exposed to finance-tech? If not, how would you broaden their exposure?

I think girls are exposed to finance-tech, but are not encouraged as frequently to pursue science and math like the boys are. It starts with teachers and counselors who play pivotal roles in encouraging girls at a time when they are thinking about their life options. As technology companies, we have to make sure girls understand their career options, including those in finance-tech. The best way to do that is through active recruiting, as well as supporting STEM programs and education.

You oversaw technology solutions to help reduce and prevent credit and debit card fraud, in light of Heartbleed, what can corporations do to prepare themselves against security flaws?

Fraud is like any other kind of technology trend – you have to stay on top of it. This means building in fraud prevention measures into your architecture design, and making security updates a priority. It’s a must-do in this day and age.

Meet Jen Millard Principle Consultant , Information Security MasterCard Operations & Technology

What advice would you have for early-stage startups that are trying to scale? JenMillard

Whenever I begin working with a new start-

up, I always start with the attitude that ‘it is more important to decide what NOT to focus on’. It is so easy to want to try and do EVERYTHING at once – but realistically, resources are finite. Determining what you are not going to do is often more important. And, often times, I see things that are ‘over-built’ meaning—the product is elegant and well-designed… but they actually never got a real customer before 'finishing’ it. When they go to market and get a first customer, they often end up making a lot of revisions. In my mind, ‘better done than perfect’ should be the general rule. You should be agile and adapt your product based on your initial customer feedback.

What about for advanced startups that are trying to scale internationally?

Achieving scale and going global are both very challenging, even for mature companies. If you are a startup with international goals, it can help to find a local partner with whom to work. One of the biggest challenges western companies face is expecting the world to operate like we do here in the US. You have to be sensitive to the needs of the different markets.

What are the resources you look to help you build your strategy for bizdev at MasterCard?

First, I have to say that I have never in my career had as many resources at my disposal as I do at MasterCard! We have tremendous sales, marketing, payments experience and research available to us. It’s amazing! But I’d also like to stress that in my opinion, all great business development roles are based on relationships. You can have all the resources in the world—but the ability to work with a customer and develop ways to be successful together is the real goal. Understanding how your product solves your customer’s problem or makes their life easier are important keys to a consultative sales process.

Jess headshotJessica Schimm (@JessicaSchimm) is the assistant editor at Women 2.0. She is a recent graduate of San Francisco State where she earned a B.A. in journalism and was the editor-in-chief of SF State’s Her Campus chapter. She has a strong interest in women’s topics and writes about them on her blog.


About the author: Jessica Schimm (@JessicaSchimm) works on all things digital at Women 2.0. Before joining Women 2.0 she earned her BA in journalism, interned at SF's premier culture magazine 7x7 and was the editor-in-chief of Her Campus San Francisco. She likes to dance-walk home after work.