"The five years at Oliver Wyman had a big role to play in making me the professional that I am today."

Prakriti SinghPrakriti heads Mastercard’s Leading with Services strategic business unit for Middle East and Africa. In this role she is responsible to leverage the strength of the company’s B2B services portfolio to drive top strategic deals in the region. Using a consultative approach to package customer centric solutions is central to Prakriti’s role in transforming service sales through the organization. Prakriti also chairs Mastercard’s Women Leadership Network in Dubai. Prior to joining Mastercard, Prakriti spent five years at Oliver Wyman focusing on the Retail and Business Banking vertical. She did her MBA in finance from The Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. Prakriti is a mum to a 2 year old, a trained classical dancer, an artist and an avid health enthusiast.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career path since you left Oliver Wyman?

I like to think of myself as a technologist, a mum, an artist and a health enthusiast all rolled into one. I am lucky to have been with Oliver Wyman for ~5 years from 2008-2012, which were some of the most enriching years in my professional career. I left Oliver Wyman in 2013 to join the Professional Services business of Mastercard. My initial focus was on providing consultancy and advice on payments specific issues to leading financial institutions in Middle East and North Africa. In 2015 I transitioned into a role to drive consultative sales across the Mastercard services organization.

Currently I head a function called Leading with Services, which is a strategic unit with a mission to drive needs-driven packaged deals with top clients across three B2B lines of business including Loyalty, Processing, Advisory and Data Services. As a strong believer in the potential of women as leaders, I also chair the Mastercard Women's Leadership Network for Mastercard in Dubai.

What skills did you acquire at Oliver Wyman that have helped you throughout your career?

The five years at Oliver Wyman had a big role to play in making me the professional that I am today. The top three skills I acquired that help me on a day to day basis include:

  1. An entrepreneurial mind-set to truly own my space, define my own boundaries, and be comfortable with ambiguity
  2. A well ingrained ability to look at a problem with a strategic lens, as well as the ability to structure, analyze, and synthesize which are tremendous skills I leant at OW.
  3. A strong and adaptable communication toolkit, be it verbal or written - which was developed in the firm right from day one

What does a typical day look like for you?  What do you most look forward to?

A typical day for me is a healthy mix of work and family. I have a very cross-functional role and spend much of my day with Mastercard sales, finance and product teams to strategize on the best way to make our assets add value to the client's business. Being in front of the client and working in a partnership model is key to success in our business and hence every other week I am on the road. When I am not travelling, evenings are dedicated to my 2 year old daughter and some much needed time to keep myself fit and fighting.

What was one of your most important experiences at Oliver Wyman?

I was lucky to have done a nonprofit fellowship at Oliver Wyman which is an experience I value above all in my career at OW. I took a six month assignment with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (in a partnership with PlaNet Finance) to ideate, research, design and launch bottom of the pyramid mobile money concepts in two markets, one in Sub-Saharan Africa and the other in the Far-East.

I spent most of the six months with rice farmers, small time traders, MFIs and aid organization executives across Senegal and the Philippines. Rolling up my sleeves right down to selling mobile money accounts at village booths alongside m-money agents was a great learning experience on consumer behaviour and the impact payments can have on day-to-day lives of individuals.

Besides publishing a report with BMGF in the Mobile World Congress of 2011 that met with great reviews, this was one of the key experiences that compelled me to enter the Payments industry as a career.

What is it like to be the Chair of Mastercard's Women Leadership Network in the Middle East and Africa?

When I returned from my maternity leave in early 2015, I was faced with a tough question. While I was thoroughly enjoying my advisory role and had very strong credibility in the firm, I had to make a tough call to step back and seek a role that would need less travel, but would still challenge me enough. The support that the firm gave me through that time was incredible right from compelling career options to managers who appreciated 100% the challenges of parenting. Having gone through the experience myself, I felt it would be great to exchange learnings with my female peers who often find themselves in the same boat. That's when I took on the role of Chair for Mastercard's Women's Leadership Network in Dubai.

Our key aim is to provide women professionals with a trusted platform to find mentors, coaches, training, networking or simply advice to grow and advance their careers. We also engage across other technology firms to cross-pollinate ideas and learnings. A very interesting one for example where we were involved was the Global Women in Leadership Economic Forum last year. Workforce diversity is a topic that is treated with a lot of gravity at MasterCard given the firms strong belief that diverse thinkers are needed to truly understand the complex global marketplace

What advice do you have for former and/or current consultants and staff?

  • Value the feedback and new skills that you can learn from truly exceptional colleagues. The people I worked with at Oliver Wyman were some of the best I have come across to date.
  • Think about what you bring to the table that is different and new in a productive way
  • Especially to all women professionals, I would say there is a unique value and thought process that we bring to any work situation. Be experimental and embrace change while playing to your strengths.