For Matthias Leitzmann, vice-president of talent acquisition and head of global talent discovery at Mastercard, what makes the payments giant stand out is its commitment to doing good.
This is in line with former CEO Ajay Banga’s decency quotient.
“We are trying to take care of our people here at Mastercard”, as well as anybody that comes into contact with the company, whether that is stakeholders, customers or candidates, explains Leitzmann.
There is also an “altruistic dimension to the work we do”. Mastercard is committed to enabling “more people to partake in the digital economy” by improving financial inclusivity through its products. “We are powering economies and empowering people.”
In addition to working towards inclusion of all people into the financial mainstream, Mastercard’s commitment to ‘doing well by doing good’ is reflected in each employee’s compensation which is tied to the company’s ambitious ESG goals.
“If you want to work on meaningful solutions to complex problems that are impacting large segments of the world’s population, this is the place [to be]”, adds Leitzmann.
AI and talent acquisition at Mastercard
Clearly the payments giant has its purpose sorted. While this is a great foundation, the actual recruitment begins with the hard work of Leitzmann’s team as well as his colleagues, coupled with their suite of tech tools.
Mastercard’s focus is ensuring its enterprise-grade platforms, and smaller niche tools, integrate and connect – this “allows us to scale and create a more seamless experience”, for candidates and recruiters alike.
Leitzmann is clear that hiring tech was important to Mastercard pre-pandemic; “our pursuit of thoughtful automation, including thinking through the use case for AI, and how we can weave technology into our working model would’ve happened either way; [we] were already in flight pre-COVID-19”.
AI in particular remains “an ongoing topic of discussion” for Leitzmann and his team. It is evident that at Mastercard AI is not being used to make recruiting and hiring decisions without human intervention.
Instead, there are two core principles that guide the payment giant’s thinking about AI. First, “being on the good side of data”, and ensuring that Mastercard is always “leveraging AI and data in an ethical, thoughtful, and transparent way”.
The second is seeing AI primarily as a “speed accelerator”; how in the right context AI can “produce substantial productivity enhancements and a better experience for all stakeholders”, whether that is for hiring managers, recruiters, or candidates.
Of course, applying AI in recruitment is much easier said than done – Leitzmann explains that success requires a “robust AI governance program, a close partnership with data privacy and employment law, auditing your job postings for potential biases, understanding regional compliance requirements, and so on”.
“As amazing as the potential of AI is, the significant effort required to train an AI engine, work through assessing risks and potential pitfalls, and make it all work well and equitably is not to be underestimated”, states Leitzmann.
How Mastercard thinks about proactive hiring and internal mobility
There is one particular group within Mastercard’s talent acquisition function that is especially keen on leaning on data and automation: the specialist talent discovery team, a center of excellence within the company’s talent organization.
Through this team, “we’re trying to move away from [just] recruiting ‘requisition by requisition’, and are pursuing an ‘always-on’ proactive talent scouting and attraction model”.
Leitzmann oversees this 20+ person global team, which consists of professionals with skills in the areas of talent attraction, talent insights, direct sourcing, alumni relations, diversity, equity and inclusion, and recruitment marketing.
In fact, the team was formed shortly after Leitzmann joined Mastercard following the acquisition of his previous employer, SessionM.
SessionM had filled most of its roles through direct sourcing and social media recruiting, and “the concept resonated with Mastercard leadership and aligned well with the company’s philosophy of ‘reverse integration’” aka learning from startups and scaling their innovative solutions.
The idea behind the talent discovery function is that by using data and leveraging thoughtful automation, plus social media, marketing, and events, Mastercard can “identify, nurture and engage with compelling talent”.
This may include candidates that are actively looking for new role, but the primary goal is to engage with individuals that are not currently searching for new opportunities (and are not desperate to jump ship from their current employer just yet).
This discovery approach means that “once someone expresses interest in exploring opportunities at Mastercard, we embrace the idea of having career conversations with talent, before they apply, and really try to find out what each person is interested in, what they want to do, what their strength are, and then turning around to see if we can find a home for this person at Mastercard”.
AI can help the talent discovery team access prospect data faster, which means they can reach out to and engage with suitable talent more quickly.
“Not having to review thousands of data points one after another allows them to double down on what they do best: evaluating talent, having thoughtful conversations with both candidates and hiring managers, and providing a more personalized experience throughout the talent acquisition process”.
The discovery model is aimed at external candidates, but Mastercard is also committed to providing development to its employees.
“We fill [around] a third of all our roles with internal candidates”, notes Leitzmann. “This is a vibrant ecosystem where you can come in, learn, grow and develop”.
To help, Mastercard leverages an internal talent platform it calls Unlocked; this acts as a network where employees can seek out mentors or projects within the business that are outside their normal role.
These opportunities allow them to “test and learn what they might want to do more of in the future”, as well as connect them with colleagues and leaders in other parts of Mastercard.
The impact of the Great Resignation
A lack of internal mobility, and learning and development, are key causes of the Great Resignation – so given Mastercard’s prioritization of career growth, UNLEASH was keen to find out how the payments company is faring in the war for talent.
Of course, like most companies, Mastercard has not escaped the impact of the Great Resignation, but it is now seeing a phenomenon that Leitzmann and others term the ‘Great Regret’ – this is where employees who quit during the Great Resignation realized the grass isn’t always greener and are now looking to return to their old employers.
Leitzmann shares that ‘boomerangs’ represented 7% of Mastercard’s hires in 2022. Along with this positive momentum comes the fact that “we are in the process of building out our first ever global alumni network”.
To help, Mastercard has hired an experienced alumni program manager, who is leading the effort and enjoys “strong executive sponsorship and the support of a large group of company ambassadors”.
In addition, Mastercard has used the Great Resignation as an opportunity to self-audit, and for leadership and HR to ask themselves “are we doing the right things? Are we offering everything that our employees need? What can we double down on and do better or more of?”, notes Leitzmann.
Ultimately, Mastercard recognizes that employees have a choice about “where they share their talents, where they grow, and where to invest their time”, and it is for the payments giant to create an employee-centric “environment where people feel valued and want to stay long term”.
Leitzmann is optimistic about Mastercard’s ability to continue to be a “long-term career destination in the technology space and a place where the best talent wants to grow” if it continues its focus around robust learning and development, leading with decency, help solve complex problems, and offering great benefits.
If you want to hear more from Leitzmann about Mastercard’s tech-driven approach to hiring, make sure you grab a ticket for UNLEASH America 2023.
Sign up to the UNLEASH Newsletter
Get the Editor’s picks of the week delivered straight to your inbox!