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MASTERCARD CHRO ON ANTICIPATING AND ADAPTING TO DISRUPTION

Disruption is a word on every business leader’s lips these days, but while the term may seem over-used and trendy, it’s not exactly a new concept. 

“Work has been disrupted for centuries,” says Michael Fraccaro, chief human resources officer at Mastercard, who will discuss the topic of disruption at work at the i4cp Next Practices Now Conference 2019.  

“If you go back in time and look at agriculture, banking, medical science, retail, manufacturing, or any other industry, they’ve all been disrupted over the years.” 

Change is indeed a constant in every industry. But what has some organizations on their heels is the pace at which change is happening.  

“Being a disruptive organization, however, means not just keeping up with change,” says Fraccaro, “but actually looking to the edge and seeing the trends that are emerging, so you’re not left behind from a business perspective. 

In its 2018 study, The Three A’s of Organizational Agility: Reinvention Through Disruption , the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) identified the increased ability to sense the external environment as one of the five key traits of agile leaders and organizations.  

As the report notes, “Every organization needs to prioritize the ability to spot trends that will disrupt the way they operate.” At the i4cp 2019 conference, Fraccaro will share insights into how to help your organization and its people anticipate and adapt to trends before they come along to shake up the marketplace.   

Putting the right capabilities in place

Naturally, technology has a lot to do with the dizzying speed of change in the workplace, reinventing the way work is done—and reshaping the consumer experience—on a seemingly daily basis.  

The payment solutions industry in which Mastercard operates is no exception.  

“The movement away from cash payments to digital payments, for example, is obviously one big trend for us and many of our competitors,” says Fraccaro. “But, for us, we see it as a huge opportunity, and we’re gearing up to move faster toward digital payments.” 

The array of devices and apps with which customers can make payments is expanding as well.  

“You’ve got changes like the ‘Internet of things,’ where any device can potentially become a payment device,” says Fraccaro. “Think about smartwatches or some wearable device, like a ring with a payment device chip inserted. What does this kind of technology mean for us in terms of the skills we have to have in our organization to make sure we’re developing that kind of technology?” 

For Mastercard, a key component of always being able to adapt to such disruptions is ensuring that employees continue to upgrade their skills.  

“It’s about making sure our employees and our organization aren’t left behind, and about having the right capabilities to execute. That’s sort of the headline for us, in terms of handling disruption.” 

Nurturing your employment brand

Fraccaro  says that Mastercard aspires to be a “human-centered tech company.” This requires creating a culture in which employees have the right technological tools to be productive, and can easily collaborate with each other. It also means providing a seamless technological experience to prospective talent.  

“We’re working through the whole employee experience,” says Fraccaro. “It’s a wider continuum we’re thinking about—starting from the time that [candidates] interact with our website to search for jobs or read thought leadership papers. And if it’s clumsy or difficult to navigate, then it’s a bad experience.” 

The people who seek opportunities with the organization come in increasingly different forms, he says.  

“The shape and dimension of the workforce is changing, and the fact is you’re going to have part of your work conducted by your employees, part of it by contingent workers, gig workers and so forth. It’s going to be much more fluid. CHROs are going to have to think through this whole new paradigm.” 

How and where employees get their work done, it’s crucial to maintain some level of connection with them when their time with the organization ends, says Fraccaro, adding that this will only become more important with today’s youngest workers.  

“If you think about the future, the centennial workforce might have much longer careers, and it’s more likely that they’ll have more jobs in their careers. Therefore, it’s highly probable they’ll leave your organization. Maintaining that connection is really important to your employment brand.” 

Defining and managing an employment brand starts with the CHRO and other business leaders, of course. Fraccaro advises leaders to always be looking at the internal and external forces that can affect that brand.  

“Your leaders are the megaphone for the company’s culture. In a world of sound bites and tweets, our leaders have a moral obligation in what they say and how they behave. And we have to equip our leaders to lead and manage in a very different world than the one our leadership programs traditionally have,” he says.  

“What about your employee population? What are they saying on social media? Watch Glassdoor and similar sites. And clearly, you have to look to your customers, through surveys and the like. Always seeking this outside-in perspective is important to sustaining this kind of disruptive culture.”