Mastercard CMCO Shares the Blueprint for Cross-Functional Team Stability

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

I wrote a case study that was all about your relationship with your CFO and how you co-created a new marketing finance team. Tell us about that move that you made with your CFO. 

In whichever marketing role I performed in different companies, I always sensed that there was a profound sense of suspicion in the CFO’s mind as to how exactly marketers are spending their money. Marketers genuinely used to hide a little behind jargon, behind those very complex fuzzy programs. And the CFOs used to be incredibly frustrated. When I was managing businesses, that’s exactly what was happening. When I came to MasterCard, the culture was no different. When there is a little bit of dubiousness about how marketing is spending their money and how prudent they are, how judicious 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 to go to my CFO. And at that time Martina was the CFO and I said, “Martina tell me, what do you get to see in marketing? What do you not get to see marketing? What would you like to see in marketing?” She was pleasantly surprised. I also had already done my homework. “Did you know that this is how we are managing, these are the gaps that we have, this is the fluff that we are doing that we will actually get rid of, these are the efficiencies we are looking at?” She couldn’t believe we were having this conversation.  

When you look at the P and L, we (marketing) are one of the top three expenses. I said you need to have complete visibility and I need to have complete control. [I proposed] they get a CFO for marketing and the finance team embedded into that. And this CFO would report to both of us. It went beyond music to her ears, and then we started it off.  

Since then, I have a full fledged finance team that’s sitting in marketing that know ROI. For example, when marketers are self-reporting ROI, there’s a big credibility gap. But if you have finance people who are sitting in marketing, and now the ones who are doing the ROI, the numbers get instant credibility. And that’s exactly what we have been doing since then. It has really come to be a very successful model. And it keeps strongly advocating that we as marketers have nothing to hide. We have to be transparent. We need to have enough confidence and knowledge to be able to justify the numbers of what we are spreading, why we are spreading, [and] what we are getting done. 

And then by the second CMO Moves episode you were on, you had again created another cross-functional team that you had the foresight to create two years before you actually really needed it. Can you talk about that? 

What we do is typically every three to five years, we do a total strategy refresh. So we look at what the horizon offers us in terms of capabilities–the infrastructure, the talent–and then tie everything into it.  

As a company, (most of the companies do it), they created a “risk map,” a heat map for the company. It’s like block on a graph where you say these are the probabilities that different risks will materialize. And if they do materialize, this is the extent of impact that the company is going to have. So I said it would be interesting actually to see how it would be in the context of marketing, because marketing has a lot of risks. So I said to my CFO– let’s sit and actually think through what are the kinds of risks that marketing has gone through.  

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