Why you should listen
Ann Cairns is not your typical Woman in Leadership. From being the first female in the UK to work offshore on an oil rig, to winning prestigious research awards, to managing a whopping $7bn at ABN-Amro, Ann has smashed through glass ceilings many times over.
Today, she serves as the global brand ambassador for Mastercard. Ann drives innovation in FinTech whilst creating a more inclusive future for women and marginalized communities. She builds global partnerships with governments, telecommunication companies, and humanitarian organizations.
One of her most impactful projects was setting up a pioneering system for the World Food Programme to supply prepaid food cards for refugees. Using Mastercard’s technology, she is working to provide a goal of 100M meals worldwide by 2030.
In an interview with Fortune, Ann pointed out the importance of including women in the face of a growing use of AI technology in Finance and Business, “There’s no point having the Internet of everything if you don’t have the Internet of everyone.” She warns that lack of diversity will give us “computers that think like some bro culture”. Ann co-chairs The 30% Club, a high-profile U.K.-based organization that campaigns for more women at all levels of global business.
At the top of Mastercard’s international division, Ann was responsible for the team that generated 60% of the company’s global revenue.
Prior to joining Mastercard, Ann helped restructure banks across Europe including Ireland & Iceland after their bankruptcy during the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. She was also COO of Citibank’s e-business where she launched alliances with business and tech companies such as Oracle and CommerceOne that integrated online payments through CitiDirect and CitiConnect.
Ann sits on the board of the Fortune 500 company Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and is chair of ICE Clear Europe.
Hear Ann speak at Worldwebforum 2020 about using innovation to improve inclusion and advocate for social change.
As a technology company in the global payments business, we operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.
Ann Cairns is the Executive Vice Chairman of Mastercard, representing the company and brand around the world. As a senior ambassador and executive leader, she brings inclusion, diversity, and innovation to the forefront not just within Mastercard, but around the world, building new global partnerships with governments, businesses and NGOs. With a background in engineering affording her exceptional technological acumen and early-career leadership opportunities, Ann excels at both managing change caused by external factors and driving change through innovation and advocacy.
Prior to taking the Executive Vice Chairman role, Ann was President of International Markets, managing all customer-related activities worldwide, guiding the company’s expansion into new and diverse geographies, opening up new customer segments, and embracing the digital revolution with her focus safety, security and convenience.
Before joining Mastercard, Ann headed the Financial Services Group with Alvarez & Marsal in London, where she led the European team managing Lehman Brothers Holdings International through the Chapter 11 process. She also helped restructure banks across Europe including Ireland & Iceland.
Her additional senior leadership experience includes a tenure as CEO of Transaction Banking at ABN-AMRO and 15 years in senior operational positions at Citigroup.
She began her career as an award-winning research engineer, moving through the ranks to become the Head of Offshore Engineer-Planning for British Gas; Ann was the first woman qualified to go offshore in Britain.
She is chair of ICE Clear Europe, global co-chair of the 30% Club, chair of Financial Alliance for Women and a member of the UK Government’s AI council.
She has a Pure Mathematics degree and honorary doctorate from Sheffield University and a M.Sc. with research into medical statistics and honorary doctorate from Newcastle University.