Make your employees’ happiness count!


MasterCard has been recently recognized as one of the best places to work in the UAE by the Great Place to WorkTM institute, ranking 15th in the country. To learn more about the healthy and happy working environment at Mastercard we got talking to Scott Tierney, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, MasterCard Middle East and Africa.


What makes workplace culture so important?

We often reference “workplace culture”, but the reality is that many organizations find it difficult to define exactly what culture is. While it might be complicated to articulate exactly what it entails, employees are extremely perceptive and are able to differentiate for themselves between cultures and environments that are positive and negative and this undoubtedly has an effect on their motivation and performance.

At MasterCard, we pride ourselves on having a professional, collaborative, dynamic and innovative environment – one where people can bring their hearts and minds to work, and where talented people are provided with opportunities to flourish and realize their potential.

This is not as easy to achieve as it is to say and we make no secret that we hold our people managers, who occupy the privileged position of leading other people, responsible for setting the tone and creating a culture where people are able and willing to give their best. Of course, a positive environment can only be good for the business.


To which extent should the recruitment process reflect this ideology?

It is inextricably linked and has to be. When we hire, we look beyond skills, experiences and competencies that are relevant to the target role. We also look closely at personalities and motivations to ensure that each potential employee is the right fit for the organization and our culture. We also place great importance on assessing candidates’ future potential to grow and develop within the organization.


As Senior Vice President of Human Resources of MasterCard Middle East and Africa, how do you ensure and promote a healthy and happy environment among your employees?

It is not the result of one single thing that we do – it is a combination of a multitude of things that we have done and continue to do. Overall, I can summarize it by saying that we aim to provide our people with “Priceless” employee experiences. Some of our key areas of focus are:

  • Role of managers - in setting the tone and creating the right environment is critical, and therefore our management selection, training and development are of utmost importance.
  • Training & Development – we provide a range of solutions and interventions which span Sales, Product, Skills and Leadership topics.
  • Performance Management - our philosophy focuses on both “what” people achieve but also “how” they achieve their outputs. This helps drive the desired organizational behaviors and culture.
  • Career development opportunities – we proactively encourage people to have individual development plans in place and to discuss their career aspirations with their managers and HR team. As a global organization, we also provide opportunities for people to further their careers in different parts of the world.
  • Employee Engagement – we take this very seriously and do full corporate surveys every two years and local “pulse” checks each alternate year, with structured actions plans developed to address any key issues that require additional focus and attention. Employee communication is a major focus area for us, as we recognize that having employees who are knowledgeable about our business drives engagement and creates a strong population of brand ambassadors.
  • Management feedback – we provide employees with an opportunity each year to provide structured feedback to their direct manager on their performance and areas for potential development.
  • Compensation and Benefits – we provide a competitive and varied range of compensation and benefits. Beyond salaries we provide an annual bonus scheme and stock options. Our medical insurance scheme is recognized in the market as being top quality – a critically important and valuable benefit in the UAE.
  • Employee events – we run a series of events across the year that are aimed at informing or educating our employees, but also having fun at the same time. The most recent example was our “Wellness Week” where we ran a series of informative but fun sessions on dietary matters, conducted on-site health checks, covered a range of exercise and health issues such as back pain and the importance of posture.  Effectively, it was a week where we focused on health and well-being not only in the office, but also in everyday life.
  • Innovative workplace policies – e.g. our Flexible working policy which provides people with scope to adopt short or long term flexible arrangements such as working from home, emergency leave, flexible start/finish times, part-time work, etc.
  • Social Club (MADSOC – MasterCard Dubai Social Club) – made up of volunteers, this group organizes a wide range of events across the year such as our year-end party, bring your kids to work days, birthday celebrations, etc.


What led MasterCard to be recognized among the top places to work in the UAE?

I believe we were recognized for providing a positive and engaging culture and environment for all of our employees, created in part by our solid and in some cases leading-edge HR policies. MasterCard is an extremely strong brand and a very successful business that is recognized across the globe. Most importantly, as a leading technology company in the payments industry, we are increasingly changing people’s lives for the better and making a positive contribution to society through our products and solutions. Our Financial Inclusion initiatives are giving previously unbanked communities access to formal financial services for the very first time, touching the lives of millions of people across the Middle East and Africa. Our employees across all divisions play a part in these efforts and recognize and value our commitment to doing well and doing good.


What do you do differently to encourage your multi-cultural team?

It all stems from to our hiring and talent management philosophy. We hire diverse talent and we value diversity across our employees as we strongly believe that when diverse perspectives are harnessed correctly, the benefits to the business are clear and significant. For example, in our population of just under 200 people in the UAE we have more than 30 different nationalities; our gender diversity sits around 60:40 (males: females) - a significant shift from 80:20 only a few years ago; and our age profile spans all spectrums and is increasingly focused on providing opportunities for the younger (millennial) generations.


Why is employees’ motivation considered as an asset for great performance?

Motivation is a key enabler to engagement and it is well documented that engaged employee populations perform at their best, and this higher level of productivity drives enhanced business performance.

What are some of the most influential leadership aspects that MasterCard is adopting?

We have a strong focus on leadership across the organization. Although our business has been and continues to be very successful, we know that we cannot rest on our laurels and effective leadership is required to keep evolving our business and keep it successful well into the future. We hold our leaders responsible for creating the right environment, but we also set them a much broader and challenging agenda, like being the agents of change, challenging the status quo, and taking responsibility for decisions. These leadership requirements are embedded into our structured leadership development activities which are tailored to all levels, from aspiring leaders through to senior executives.  Importantly, we stress the importance of authentic leadership – the most successful leaders have always been sincere and authentic in what they do and how they do it, so why should our business be any different?


What are the actions that you advise other companies to adopt in order to improve their workplace culture?

There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach as different businesses, at different points of time, require different approaches. The starting point has to be a clear linkage between the workplace culture and what the business is trying to achieve, taking into account its strategy as well as the prevailing business environment. Focusing only on job outputs and managing people to that end is a short-term game. It may deliver results for a period of time, but the sustainability and adaptability of the model will be highly questionable. Nowadays, employees need and expect much more than financial benefits - people increasingly expect much more from their job, employer, colleagues, workplace and life.  An environment which caters for these issues and doesn’t just focus on the immediate jobs and their outputs will prosper in both the short and long term. The marketplace has never been more competitive for businesses to operate and succeed.  That’s why organizations need people who come to work every day motivated, engaged, and able to do their best. Employees need to understand what they do and how that contributes to the success of the business, so communicating, educating and engaging the employees in the business story is critical.

About Scott Tierney


Scott Tierney is the Vice President, Human Resources at MasterCard in Middle East and Africa, where he is responsible for leading MasterCard’s Human Resources function, overseeing the development of MasterCard’s key operational HR disciplines. He also spearheads MasterCard’s strategic initiatives and solutions which are designed to enhance its human capital’s performance and meet the organization’s business growth objectives.


Scott has more than 20 years of industry experience in the realm of HR in the UK and UAE. He was the Head of HR at the Dubai Mercantile Exchange and the Head of HR for the Leisure Retail Department at Emirates Group. In the UK, he worked with three blue-chip financial services companies.



Scott is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (Chartered MCIPD) and a Chartered Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute (Chartered ACII).


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