Episode 22: WERKIN with Jennifer Rademaker on introspection

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On this week’s episode, Hayley talks with Jennifer Rademaker, EVP of Global Customer Delivery at Mastercard. Apart from her career with Mastercard, Rademaker has been recognized as an ally for her advocacy and sponsorship of the LGBT community. She shares what it takes to be an effective ally, the power of introspection and mentorship, and the importance of getting comfortable with video conference calls.

Jennifer Rademaker, EVP Global Customer Delivery at Mastercard

Jennifer Rademaker, EVP Global Customer Delivery at Mastercard

 Leading a division of 800 people located in 67 offices around the world, Rademaker is responsible for technical product launches across markets. She’s learned the value of a diverse workforce and what it takes to bring together teams across languages and cultures. “Not only do we have technical skills and customer facing skills, but we also do it in the local language. I'm very proud of the team and we've got a great mix of folks.”

 At a time when traditionally male dominated finance and tech companies seek to hire and support more diverse talent, it’s also remarkable that Rademaker leads a team with a 50-50 gender balance, of which 40% identify as people of color. “We've got a really nice mix and I think it sets the tone for what I expect in any organization I lead that the people have lots of opportunity, that we're encouraging of diversity. And most importantly that we have role models.”

 For early and mid- career employees from underrepresented groups, seeing themselves reflected in leaders at the top through role models, provides a vision and something to aspire to. For Rademaker, integrating diversity and inclusion to encourage a workplace with more of these role models is about setting a tone.

“If my people see that I'm a supportive, open, accepting advocate, it makes it a safe place for people and a safe place regardless of whether we're talking about LGBT or gender or people of color. It's setting the tone that this is something we want. That this is a place where people can actually grow.”

 Beyond setting an inclusive and supportive tone, Rademaker emphasizes that allies engage with underrepresented groups through mentorship, through supporting their careers to grow beyond recruitment, “I work one on one with people that I can help to get to the next level through one on one coaching sessions.”

 As the founder and CEO of WERKIN, Hayley Sudbury has observed that as the gender pay gap reports have come out, many companies with some of the biggest gaps too often focus solely on recruitment, but unless companies help women and other underrepresented groups throughout their careers, “people don't stay and they don't actually move up through to those senior positions.”

“Having career mentorship or coaching or sponsorship or all of the above is a key to helping people get to that next level. There's so much that you don't understand about an organisation and how to advance in an organisation. What are the unwritten rules? What are the right projects to get on? What are the roles that you should be looking for that signal that you're executive material? Sometimes this is impossible on your own and that's where a really great coach can help you in the first instance to wade through that and find your way, but also be an advocate for you,” according to Rademaker.

But it takes more than a mentor or a coach, it takes an advocate because to Rademaker, “so many of these promotions, new job opportunities, get decided off to the side and if you don't have somebody who's sitting at that table who's your advocate who mentions your name, you don't even get considered sometimes.” Which is why it is so important for more inclusive access to mentors and sponsors to advocate for more diverse groups of employees.

 And as a mentor to 28 people within Mastercard, Rademaker is doing her part. How does she manage mentoring so many? She says that asking questions early on to determine whether she can actually help these individuals from her position, understanding their goals, matters. She’s also started what she calls “coaching circles” to engage more mentees with similar interests. She also engages with emerging leaders to encourage them to take on more mentees, particularly women. It’s about “creating a sisterhood and a support system and it's simple things, like for example a lot of ladies can be very quiet in meetings, and men interpret that as she doesn't have anything to say. Well, she just might be shy and need a little encouragement. She probably has a lot to say. But sometimes folks need to be drawn out. What can you do in the meeting to support her?” Rademaker emphasizes the importance of shining a light on the achievements of others in meetings.

How does she manage to connect with her mentees and teammates across the globe? Rademaker admits it takes a degree of comfort with video conferencing, turning on that camera during a call “Especially if somebody is having a difficult thing that they need to be coached through. Sometimes that is easier in a face to face environment. Technology is so good, you can be anywhere and connect with people. And I feel very comfortable using that.”

Even with the supportive culture Rademaker has sought to create at Mastercard, financial services remains a difficult industry overall for women who make up just 14% of partners at UK firms. What are her top two tips to women considering a career in this industry?

“The first is to find your secret sauce. What is it that you do better than most people? People don't spend enough time on introspection, thinking about themselves and what is the talent that I'm really good at. And sometimes it can change throughout your career. What you're good at when you're 20 might be very different from what you're good at when you're 40 or 50 because you're evolving your skills. Have a very strong view of where your talents are and where are your areas of development.”

With a strong sense of self and your unique talents, “you do a much better job of picking roles and assignments and projects.” Apart from introspection, Rademaker recommends “finding a sponsor or a mentor or a coach who can give you honest feedback.”

For more from Hayley’s conversation with Jennifer Rademaker, including the shoes she rewarded herself with after her first big break and the power of having a good zoom lens, listen to the full interview on iTunes or SoundCloud