Make learning a habit. Even if it’s reading one article about financial wellness a day, setting a realistic goal for yourself and holding yourself accountable will facilitate that learning.
I had the pleasure to interview Cheryl Guerin. Cheryl is Executive Vice President, North America Marketing & Communications where she is responsible for driving brand preference and consumer affection for Mastercard across U.S. and Canada. Ms. Guerin’s team develops and implements coordinated communications and marketing strategies reinforcing the value of our brand, products and services to drive revenue growth and market share for the region. Her responsibilities include directing the brand’s award-winning Priceless campaign, communications, sponsorships, digital, B2B and partner marketing activity to drive greater connection with consumers and businesses.
Prior to this Cheryl led Mastercard Credit Products with responsibility for all aspects of product strategy and development globally. In addition, she also held a general management role, overseeing all Products and Solutions for North America.
She also previously ran US Marketing where she launched successful marketing platforms such as Priceless Cities, Priceless Surprises and the Priceless Causes Stand Up To Cancer platform. Ms. Guerin joined Mastercard in 2000 and has also run several key Marketing functions including, Global Digital Marketing and Global Integrated Promotions. Key achievements include building organizations around these disciplines globally, as well as continued industry accolades.
Prior to Mastercard, Ms. Guerin held several account services positions at advertising agencies such as Bates Worldwide, managing campaigns and product launches for clients such as Avis, American Home Products, Best Foods, NatWest Bank and Samsung.
Ms. Guerin is on the Board of Directors for The Advertising Club of New York and is an Advisory Board member for Women in Payments. Cheryl was named to Brand Innovators 2013 Top 50 Women in Brand Marketing, was a 2011 and 2019 CEO Award Winner and most recently was named to the Moves Power Women list 2019, as well as received the Women in Payments Change Agent Award in 2020.
Ms. Guerin holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Pace University’s Lubin School of Business and lives in Westchester, NY with her husband and two sons.
Thank you so much for joining us Cheryl! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Finance field?
Ifound my way to Mastercard due to my love for Advertising and Marketing.
The priceless campaign was especially something that stood out to me. While other brands in the Financial services category were focused on consumption values, Mastercard recognized experiences matter more than things. An insight that has only grown in importance since Mastercard recognized this over 20 years ago.
While I loved the agency world and worked on a variety of brands including Financial Services, Travel, Packaged Goods and more, I wanted to move to the “client side” or corporate world.
I ultimately found my way to Mastercard in 2000 after several years in the agency world — I enjoyed the complexity of the business and finding new ways to evolve the iconic priceless ad campaign to an integrated marketing platform.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
Earlier in my career, I had an incredible boss who pushed me to go beyond my comfort zone and pursue new experiences and opportunities. She was the one who encouraged me to lead digital marketing, which at the time was new for our company and new for the marketing industry. Left on my own I would have continued to focus on traditional advertising which I loved at the time. I will never forgot her telling me “why do you want to do that — you have done it already. Do something completely different that you can define.”
So, while I took a risk jumping into the unknown, after a few months I had become the expert in the space and eventually ended up leading digital marketing globally reporting to our CMO. From that experience I learned how important it is to push yourself, and continually collect skills which can create multiple paths for your career.
I’m a big proponent of encouraging members of my team and beyond to reach out for advice, input, ideas — you name it. I have an open-door policy that has really allowed me to help mentor both women and men within the organization. I’ve found that having an approachable mindset has gone a long way.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Mastercard’s True Name card feature has been one of the most meaningful initiatives of my career. True Name is the first payments feature to leverage alternative new verification methods, allowing individuals to use the true name they associate with on their cards. This eases a major pain point for the transgender and non-binary community in eliminating negative experiences, such as being harassed, denied services, or attacked, and has set a new industry standard with a product that recognizes the entirety of the LGBTQIA+ community, ensuring that peoples’ financial products to reflect their true identity. I’m thrilled to be working for an organization that not only prioritizes these important initiatives, and partner with additional issuers this year to roll out cards with the True Name feature.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes us unique is that Mastercard’s work is not necessarily tethered to a specific industry, because the industry we serve is the world. We want to make the digital economy work for everyone, everywhere — recognizing that regardless of geography, race, gender, or socioeconomic background, we all deserve access and opportunity. The work we do is impactful and rewarding.
One of the most rewarding experiences during my career at Mastercard has been the opportunity to help champion women business owners. We’ve been working to shine a light on female business owners and help enable equal funding opportunities for underserved communities including women small business owners and entrepreneurs. In 2019, I played an active role in the launch of Mastercard’s Women’s Business Advisory Council, which leverages the perspectives and industry experience of its members to help ensure the solutions Mastercard brings to market continue to meet the evolving needs of this segment.
Forty eight percent of women believe mentorship programs for women is most helpful for the advancement of women entrepreneurs. I’ve also had the opportunity to be a part of Mastercard’s ongoing partnership with Create & Cultivate, where we bring together women business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs for fun and educational conferences across the country. When we support women entrepreneurs, we’re not only supporting the economy, we are supporting their desire to solve real needs and make a difference in people’s lives.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?
Ithad become a hinderance on innovation to only have the same types of people and perspectives sitting at the table. Ultimately, innovation should come from everywhere, and start with people. What that really means is that the experiences we create for people — product development, innovation and marketing in banking and finance should bring in people with varying backgrounds and areas of expertise. The old way of doing things is no longer resonating. What I love about Mastercard is that we recognize the importance of this inclusive mindset, because it’s proven that diverse teams make better decisions, ultimately driving innovation and better results.
Being diverse is not only good for our business, customers, and cardholders, but also, the communities we serve.
Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support this movement going forward?
These numbers are disappointing. Too much of our world has been designed without women in mind — and without women involved. It’s an imperative that companies embrace diverse perspectives. They need to understand the current and traditional barriers to diverse representation and take action to recruit and retain a diverse workforce that includes women. A world that works better for women creates limitless possibilities for us all. Mastercard’s vision is to be a gender-balanced workplace — with decency at the foundation, we believe in taking an inclusive approach to business. I am proud to say I sit on an executive leadership team in the North America region that is 50% women.
Companies should prioritize initiatives to empower, recruit, and retain qualified women, and we’re doing so on a number of fronts:
Our business resource group, the Women’s Leadership Network, helps women advance their careers and performance through mentorship, coaching, and confidence-building.
Our 12-week “Relaunch Your Career” program gives women and men who have taken breaks in their careers the opportunity to secure a permanent position
Our focus on the next generation with our Girls4Tech education program, which inspires young women to build STEM skills that help them become future leaders. Since we launched five years ago, we’ve reached more than 500,000 girls in 28 countries, and hope to reach one million girls by 2025.
Let’s now turn to a slightly new topic. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers? If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?
Financial literacy isn’t being prioritized early enough, which I believe is causing this disparity. If I had the power to make a change, I’d make financial education a part of national curriculum to instill the foundation early on.
To build on this, a huge part of avoidance and lack of understanding of one’s finances are tied to the deep emotional roots that come along with money. Like teaching financial literacy or wellness early on, I’d prioritize making the conversation around money approachable and intuitive, versus opaque and unattainable.
I also believe that people aren’t getting important financial information delivered to them in the right way, and across the right mediums. What I mean by that is consumers, especially those who have grown up with technology, aren’t resonating with pamphlets or brochures that have traditionally come along with their credit cards or bank statements. We recognize these changing attitudes and have thought critically about what can be done to engage this audience. Our recently launched AR app, in fact, gives cardholders an understanding of the benefits available to them through an interactive app environment and in the palm of their hands. We continue to think through ways to best educate our cardholders and the general public about these important topics.
You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?
- Read the news and diversify what you read. When you begin to embed yourself in the space, and get exposure to different viewpoints, you begin educating yourself, even if it might feel like gibberish at first.
- Talk about it. Finances are a very personal topic, but when you’re first getting started, use your circles as sounding boards.
- Make learning a habit. Even if it’s reading one article about financial wellness a day, setting a realistic goal for yourself and holding yourself accountable will facilitate that learning.
- Try new things. There are new products and technology that are making it easier than ever to pay and manage your finances. Adopt that new ‘thing,’ whether it be contactless payments, or switching to a credit card versus debit to get more back in rewards.
- Don’t assume that you’re done if you feel like you understand. There’s always more to know or understand when it comes to your finances. I think it’s a muscle that needs to be worked on.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Myformer manager, who I mentioned before, was pivotal to getting me to where I am now. In her empowering me to take a digital marketing role, I was ultimately able to become the go-to expert in the space at a time when not many were. This expertise was a true catalyst for my career and my confidence. I will always be thankful to her for pushing me out of my comfort zone.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Itmay sound corny, but “teamwork makes the dream work.” You must be able to lean on and collaborate with those around you, because the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts. One recent example of relevance to my career and my life was our True Name launch last year. One idea in a marketing brainstorm became a movement and industry first. And it was the team underpinning it all and continually collaborating, and the joint resilience we all had that made it all possible.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Itreally does come down to diversity and inclusion, and Mastercard’s commitment to ‘doing well by doing good.’ I would love to achieve parity, empower the next generation, and eliminate the stigmas that still currently exist in our society.
Mastercard’s CEO, Ajay Banga, often speaks about the ‘decency quotient,’ which essentially looks to the age-old notion of ‘treat others like you’d like to be treated.’ When looking at our business, products, and employees, this is at the heart. When you put decency and doing right behind all that you do, I believe that we’ll be able to bring the most good to the greatest amount of people in the long run.
Some initiatives where I have already been creating impact include the True Name card feature for transgender and nonbinary individuals, as well as shining a light on the impact women owned businesses have on our economy and society.
These initiatives are critical for our business and personally make me and our team extremely proud. I feel privileged to have the role I have and the voice I have through our priceless platform to use my influence for doing well, while doing good.