Mastercard CMCO Shares the Blueprint for Cross-Useful Group Stability

Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer and President of the Healthcare Division, explains how creating a “risk map” was necessary in leading cross-functional teams. Hear how Raja takes on the world of quantum marketing and the evolution of marketing in this new paradigm.

I wrote a case study about your relationship with your CFO and how you helped create a new marketing finance team. Tell us about the step you took with your CFO.

Regardless of what marketing role I played in different companies, I always felt that the CFO had a deep distrust of how exactly marketers were spending their money. Marketers really hid a little behind jargon, behind these very complex fuzzy programs. And the CFOs used to be incredibly frustrated. When I ran business, that’s exactly what happened. When I came to MasterCard, the culture was no different. When it’s a little doubtful how marketing spends its money and how prudent they are, how sensible they are, I thought the best way to do it is to open the doors and be completely transparent.

The first thing I did after meeting the CEO was go to my CFO. At that time Martina was the CFO and I said, “Martina, tell me what do you see in marketing? What Don’t You Get To See Marketing? What would you like to see in marketing? “She was pleasantly surprised. I had already done my homework. “Did you know this is how we do it, these are the loopholes we have, this is the fuzz we do, which we will actually get rid of, this is the efficiencies we are looking at?” She couldn’t believe we were having this conversation.

If you look at the income statement, we (marketing) are among the top three issues. I said you need to be in full visibility and I need to be in total control. [I proposed] You will get a CFO for Marketing and the finance team embedded in it. And that CFO would report back to both of us. It went beyond music to their ears, and then we started.

Since then, I’ve had a full-fledged finance team that works in marketing and knows the ROI. For example, if marketers report ROI themselves, there is a huge credibility gap. But when you have financiers in marketing and now the ones getting the ROI, the numbers get instant credibility. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing since then. It really has become a very successful model. And it continues to be strongly advocated that we as marketers have nothing to hide. We have to be transparent. We must have enough trust and knowledge to justify the number of what we spread, why we spread, [and] what we do.

And then on the second CMO Moves episode you were in, yYou had it again created another cross-functional team that you were able to build two years ahead of your actual use. Can you talk about?

We typically do a full strategy update every three to five years. So we look at what the horizon offers us in terms of skills – the infrastructure, the talent – and then tie everything to it.

As a company (most companies do), you have created a “risk map”, a heat map for the company. It’s like a block on a graph where you say these are the probabilities that different risks will occur. And when they do, that is the magnitude of the impact the company will have. So I said it would be interesting to see what it would look like in the context of marketing, as there are many risks involved in marketing. So I said to my CFO, let’s sit down and consider the risks marketing has taken.

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