Carys Richards, Vice President, Human Resources, MasterCard

The completion of my final dissertation deadline fell at the same time I had just had my daughter, so I also have fond memories of writing that paper in between feeding her when she was three weeks old!

Carys richards alumna - Mastercard

What course did you study?

“I completed my CIPD qualification through the University, and I then went on to the MSc in Human Resources Management which I graduated from in 2011. I had already worked in HR roles for a number of years so the choice for me was obvious. I felt that although I was already in HR, having the right professional qualifications would help me advance my career.”

“Most employers still have the traditional mind-set that you need the qualifications as well as experience to do a job. Being able to demonstrate the academic as well as my practical ability has increased my chances of being successful for roles when I have applied for them. I also believe it has given me some great theoretical knowledge that I have been able to apply in the work environment in the roles I have worked in.”

“Because my working schedule was fairly demanding during the time of studying, I was hugely appreciative of the tutors flexibility and ability to support me through both of the programmes outside of hours and through regular calls.  When I came to enrol onto the MSc in HRM programme I had already decided to move to Dubai, so I was fortune enough to be able to complete the programme remotely whilst living in a different country.”

 What is your current job title and who do you work for?

“I currently work for the global payments company MasterCard as Vice President, Human Resources for the Middle East & North Africa region and am based in Dubai.  My role involves supporting senior managers every day in making smart decisions about their people. That includes ensuring the business has the right operating structures and models in place to be successful and competitive, bringing in the best talent then developing and retaining them.”

“I support a number of different countries across the Middle East & North Africa region so my role also involves travelling to those countries to spend time with managers & employees as often as I can. The other key component to my role is to help create a company that is most valued to work for. This includes a broad range of activities such as ensuring our compensation & benefits packages are competitive, helping shape the culture & working environment in the region and supporting employees to develop their careers in the organisation which may involve job moves to a new country or a completely new business function. I've been fortunate enough to have a few examples over my career which have made me proud of my achievements but working for a great global organisation like MasterCard in a role where I can really make a difference and impact to the business gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

 What was the hardest obstacle you had to overcome in your career journey?

"My biggest challenge I have had to manage (and I still struggle with today) is managing my work and my home life. Working in a busy roles where I often need to work long hours is hard when you have a family. I try to manage my time to ensure every night I'm home to play with my daughter and put her to bed but it’s not easy to juggle. I think this will continue to be a challenge for me for many years to come and is something I think many working mums today also encounter."

 What advice would you give our students wishing to follow in your footsteps?

“I would advise anyone wanting a long term career in HR to gain international experience as early on in your career as possible. Getting experience in a different market is an incredibly enriching from a career perspective. It adds credibility to your CV, gives you a better understanding of multiple cultures and working environments and exposes you to challenges/ problems for you to solve that you wouldn't normally face. I am often involved in the recruitment process for senior hires and I actively look for candidates in leadership roles who have had experience in a diverse set of markets (emerging & mature). I believe it makes people more well-rounded business leaders with a greater understanding of the global economy and challenges businesses face today.”

So what final words of advice does Carys offer students from her alma mater? “If you are planning out your career today, I would advise you to take every opportunity that will give you a more global experience and push yourself out of your comfort zone to get it.”