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Rebecca Ray: Crediting MasterCard Learning with Business Success

Ray said her learning philosophy involves creating the most robust business-related programs and ensuring they're available in a variety of formats so that learning is accessible, no matter where you are in the world. Amid a general push to rebrand and reposition the company following the IPO, Ray constructed a multipronged approach to bring her philosophy to life. This approach includes MasterCard University, which is organized into six colleges such as the College of Technology and Operations and the College of General Studies. The one college that doesn't quite fit that model is the Leadership Institute, for which the company partners with Harvard Business School Publishing for the Harvard ManageMentor program.

"MasterCard University needed a little sharper focus with a dean at each college who is a business-line leader and a learning council comprised of the key stakeholders in each of those respective employee populations," Ray said. "The learning councils keep us on point in terms of content certainly and also help us project where the company may need to be in a few years. If they say, "We think there's going to be a need for this kind of programming expertise or for greater competency in this particular area," we have a window to say, 'OK, let's take a look at either these off-the-shelf programs or at partnering with a university to bring in a customized degree program.' It gives us an opportunity to say, 'OK, we're here now. How are we addressing the needs of today? Also, what are the needs of tomorrow that we need to anticipate that we can now have a thoughtful plan to address in the intervening 18, 24 months?' or whatever the time frame is."

Ray said just one type of learning delivery method is unlikely to provide the workforce with everything it needs, so blended learning, including everything from instructor-led classroom activities to podcasting, is the right approach. For instance, MasterCard's management development program has several initiatives designed for newer managers such as Management Foundations.

"It's everything you might think it would be," Ray said. "It's employment law for managers, how to conduct a fair and legal interview, how to coach and counsel, how to conduct a performance review - all those 'Manager 101' kinds of things. This is a yearlong program that people are selected for, and over a year's time, you've had an opportunity to not only have classroom time, where there is some pre-work, but there's mostly application. How would we conduct a legal interview? Let's role-play those kinds of things. Let's take a look at competency-based interviewing and how that might be different from more traditional interviewing. They get action learning requirements and online programs either as pre- or post-exercise, all thematically linked, and we use the Harvard ManageMentor series of training programs for that. In that blended learning approach, they've got online, instructor-led, some self-reflection and some action learning. We've got to figure out, 'How can we do this in a way where learning is accessible and not a hassle for people?'"


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