One thing that has been clear in the recent years is how fast the technological sector has evolved to keep up with digital transformation — be it in how we pay for items, ways we communicate, and more. Thus, the need for the sector to evolve quicker than the times, posing the requirement for a well-equipped and ready talent pool.
In this interview, Mastercard's Priti Singh tells Priya Sunil how the global technology company looks to new and different avenues to build up this talent pool, addressing key challenges along the way.
Industry Insider: Priti Singh, Senior Vice President, People and Capability, EEMEA, Mastercard
Sector spotlight: Technology
Based in: Dubai, UAE
Q What's the #1 talent challenge that your sector is facing?
The biggest challenge in the technology sector is that university curricula are not always in sync with the rapidly evolving industry trends. To effect positive change in this scenario, academia, industry and governments need to join forces to provide more opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience to prepare them for future jobs.
Q How are you tackling this challenge, and how closely are you working with your leadership team & HR team on it? Do share some strategies that have worked, and how they have helped!
We have been hiring from different sectors and backgrounds, and continually educating our employees to update their skills through a host of learning and development tools, resources and opportunities.
A candidate today does not always need to be a specialist but must be able to upskill and handle diverse business challenges that arise every day. When recruiting at Mastercard, we try to find the right balance between skills and aptitude. We place high focus on problem-solving and analytical capabilities as well as a mindset that is open to learning. We are on the lookout for technologists who have a multiplier effect in terms of what they can do and how they can raise the bar within our organisation.
We encourage candidates to sign up to the Mastercard Talent Community, which connects them to priceless possibilities get updates on job opportunities, news, and recruiting events at Mastercard.
LinkedIn is a leading channel for recruitment for us, but we also source candidates from specialised sites that offer us access to a wider pool of talent.
Q With the rise of remote work and global talent mobility, how are you adapting your talent attraction strategies to reach a broader and more diverse talent pool?
The introduction of the 10-year golden visa for outstanding professionals in Dubai in 2019, along with the addition of the five-year green visa for freelancers in 2022, seeks to bring the best of global talent to the emirate. The move has reinforced Dubai’s status as a leading hub for talent from around the world, so we are lucky to have our choice of the brightest minds from the rich and diverse talent pool here. In addition, the quality of fresh graduates has improved with the access to the plethora of information that is available online.
While this makes it easier for hirers to find viable candidates, it also means that competition among companies to attract the best talent is heating up.
To position ourselves as a preferred employer, we are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. We apply an inclusive approach to our recruitment process and are implementing pay parity across the board.
In the UAE, we have more than 60 nationalities among our workforce, with women’s representation at 47%, compared to the external market benchmark of 21%.
Through our business resource groups, we foster an inclusive environment where everyone is welcome, regardless of gender, culture or background. These employee-led groups are based on similar interests or experiences and a shared passion for inclusion, and they are open to everyone.
We are especially passionate about women’s empowerment. We are working to reach 50% gender parity across our operations this year.
Our initiatives in this space benefit not only our employees but also our organisation, because diversity, equality and inclusion power growth and boost productivity.
Q Additionally, what are some skills or competencies that are currently in high demand in the Dubai market, and how is Mastercard addressing any gaps faced in this aspect – both in your talent acquisition and talent retention strategies?
Tech talent is in high demand as a result of forward-looking national strategies that seek to attract talent and train it for jobs of the future. These include the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33), the Digital Economy Strategy and the UAE National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence 2031. D33 aspires to accelerate the growth of an innovation-driven, knowledge-based economy by investing in human development, skillsets and advanced technology. To achieve these ambitions, Dubai has allocated 100,000 golden visas for coders and advanced technology experts to attract top tech talent from across the globe.
At Mastercard, we are always looking for talented people who share our passion for innovation, and we are using creative strategies to attract the best of the best. We are building our reputation as a company where technologists are excited to work. We have introduced so-called autonomy days, when developers get to work on their pet projects. This has given rise to multiple successful solutions that were implemented across our organisation.
As for retention, we provide our people with the right tools, resources and technology that empower them to reach their full potential. We also help them map out clear career paths that align with their life goals, and nurture their professional and personal development along the way. We are building an inclusive culture of support, growth and mentorship, where everyone can thrive.
Q Overall, how are these strategies contributing to your organisation's business objectives and bottom line?
We have seen tremendous growth in our business as a result of the conducive environment for innovation that the Dubai government has created. In fact, this region has emerged as a focal point for our global innovation and digital transformation efforts. Today, it serves as a global centre of excellence, and a launchpad for deploying strategic partnerships, non-traditional collaborations and new business models across our global network. Having the right talent enables us to achieve our objectives.
Q With a focus on cultivating a talent pool in a rapidly evolving global business, what are the key trends that you see in the next three to five years in Dubai, and how would they shape your HR priorities at Mastercard? At the same time, what would be the biggest priority for HR professionals in the sector?
The expected influx of new talent in the next few years is poised to benefit businesses and transform the local economic landscape. In this rapidly evolving environment, a priority for us in HR is building the tech skills of our employees, upskilling them to keep pace with the latest trends in relevant fields and supporting continuing professional development (CPD). We view learning as a lifelong journey, and proactively work to create opportunities for our people to expand their horizons with the aim of equipping them for success.
We also believe the role of technology in shaping HR processes will increase exponentially in the next few years. At Mastercard, we are spearheading the global digital transformation, and this extends all the way to HR. Our recruitment, talent management and capability development functions have been running digitally for many years now. As a result, we have been able to sustain our hiring plans and empower people to re-skill.
We are early adopters of emerging technologies, such as AI and machine learning. We have been using AI for screening candidates and predictive analytics to improve various HR processes, such as onboarding, performance review, feedback, training and retention to optimise efficiency and standardisation. Meanwhile, machine learning and analytics-based algorithms have helped us gain more insights about our people and generate personalised reports of their progress.
Having said that, the importance of human experience and skill in recruitment cannot be underestimated, and I do not foresee a future where efficient talent acquisition can happen without the human element.
Q How are you proactively preparing yourself – as a leader and as an individual – to keep up with the future workplace?
The most important thing for me is to never stop learning. I do my best to keep up not only with the emerging trends dominating the industry but also with the evolving needs of our workforce. I believe listening to employees is critical to business success. I try to constantly think of new ways to create a positive atmosphere for work that maximises the productivity and overall well-being of our people. At Mastercard, we continue to make smart and impactful investments in upgrading our infrastructure to meet future workplace requirements.
Q You've been in HR for decades and would have seen the role shift in many ways over the years. What is the #1 change or learning that has stood out to you, that guides you in your role today?
Focus on employee experience and wellbeing by fostering a culture of continuous learning, an inclusive environment where all employees feel valued and can thrive, contribute their best will be relevant at all times, however, investment in leadership development and offering employees opportunity to upskill themselves to the new technologies will enable the organisations to better attract and retain talent.
At Mastercard, our AI-powered digital opportunity marketplace called ‘Unlocked’, offers employees platform to take control of their career planning and progression by exploring potential career paths, developing new skills, receiving mentorship, and gaining more exposure within the organisation.
Leadership development anchored to driving culture of decency, inspiring innovation, leading with purpose will propel the organisational growth.
It is important for companies to adapt workplace and people strategies and be deliberate about providing the flexibility, upskilling, and initiatives that boost employees' satisfaction and wellbeing.