Monday, November 9, 2020
In opening comments, Jessica Turner, executive vice president, product and innovation, North America, Mastercard, described Cairns as a senior ambassador and executive leader who represents Mastercard around the world.
"She is recognized as someone who's not afraid to break through barriers in a male dominated profession," Turner said. "[Cairns] has built partnerships with governments, telecommunication companies and humanitarian organizations. Today we'll show how a post COVID-19 business environment that works better for a woman works better for everyone."
Cairns thanked Turner for her introduction, noting that her 40-year career began as a research scientist in the oil and gas industry. "I came across this area called offshore and thought to myself, that's really cutting edge, and I would love to be out there on the platforms that deliver gas and the oil into the UK," she said. "So, I rang up the guy who ran the whole department in British Gas and explained that I was the only female engineer up in Newcastle, and I'd love to work offshore, and his reaction was, well, right, get on the train and come down to London and talk to me about it."
As Cairns reflected on her early days, she stated that she has actively pursued opportunities. "I've made really positive decisions around my career, instead of waiting for someone to come and tell me what to do," she said. "I applied to Citibank by answering an advertisement in the Sunday Times. I was in the right place at the right time with the right background; what did I have to lose by applying?"
Cairns credited her broadened, relaxed perspective to decades of professional experience. Young people tend to think every decision has the potential to make or break their careers, but that is not always the case, she stated. "In the game of chess, you do think several moves ahead, but of course if you make one move and then your opponent does something different, you adjust your game," she said. "And that's exactly what life is like and what work is like, you constantly adjust your game, so that you know that you're going on a winning path."
Genevieve Dozier, global leader, women's impact network leader at Fiserv, moderated one of the numerous breakout sessions following Cairn's presentation. She offered the following key takeaways:
Dozier encouraged men to become sponsors and advocates by recommending women for promotions and leadership opportunities and not to be afraid of giving women feedback at work. "If a woman speaks up in a meeting, [you could say] great call out, great suggestion, great idea," Dozier said. "It will add to the impact of her statement with the others in the group."
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