Mastercard’s decision to appoint a head of risk management for marketing two-and-a-half years is looking very prescient right now. While the company could not anticipate Covid-19 and its impacts specifically, it did mean it had a strategy if something that posed a major risk to the company happened.
The risk manager has responsibility for plotting potential problems – for example reputational, financial, privacy – on a heat map to try to determine the likelihood of something happening and what the consequences could be. Then, if a risk materialised, it had a contingency plan for how it would operate.
That plan included knowing who is responsible for what aspects during a crisis, what the chain of communication will be, and the processes the business needs to follow. But also mapping out related risks, for example during coronavirus there has been an increase in cyber vulnerability and cyber attacks.
Mastercard’s chief marketing and communications officer, Raja Rajamannar, believes that having those “building blocks” in place meant it could shift strategy much faster than other businesses when coronavirus emerged.
“We did not anticipate Covid-19 but we still had all the building blocks in place and therefore we could immediately press the buttons and be ready. We got in a very good cadence very quickly and that helped us quite a lot,” he tells Marketing Week.