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News@Ivey · Rachel Zhu

A priceless day with Mastercard Canada’s Sasha Krstic while CEO for a day

Apr 10, 2024

Rachel Zhu and Sasha Krstic

Rachel Zhu and Sasha Krstic

On March 28, HBA1 student Rachel Zhu stepped into the world of Sasha Krstic, President of Mastercard Canada, as a participant in this year’s Odgers Berndtson CEOx1Day program, which offers undergraduate students the chance to shadow top CEOs in Canada. Zhu was one of two Ivey students who made the list of 60 finalists for the program. HBA2 student Youngwon Kim also shadowed John DeFranco, Chief Executive Officer, ILAC Education Group, on March 22. In her blog below, Zhu shares why the day gave her insights and inspiration that she could not have gotten anywhere else.

A day in the life of Sasha Krstic

I started off the day bright and early with Sasha Krstic, who graciously invited me to her home to see firsthand how she balances her professional commitments and personal life. One example was through joining an early morning call while also getting her daughter ready for school. After arriving at the office together, I geared up for a busy day filled with a variety of activities. I participated in Krstic’s internal strategy meetings and engaged in her client relationship-building; connected with Mastercard Launchers, the early career global development program; and attended seminars including a Women’s Leadership Network event and a fireside chat with Mastercard General Counsels. However, two things stood out as highlights for me. One was the candid conversation I had with Krstic over lunch about navigating career and life, and the other was the thrilling experience of attending a Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals game in the Mastercard Lounge. (Side note 1: Leafs won, woohoo!) (Side note 2: the Mastercard Lounge is infused with a signature Mastercard fragrance).

Key learnings from a CEO: Be adaptable and curious

In one of my conversations with Krstic, we discussed finding the balance between staying driven and focused on our goals versus being open to opportunities that may fall into our lap. To this point, Krstic shared a piece of advice she received earlier on in her career: “The best opportunities come too early or too late.” In other words, opportunities often present themselves before we feel fully prepared to take advantage of them, or conversely, after circumstances have changed and a window has closed. Careers rarely follow linear paths; and given the unpredictable nature of opportunity, we must learn to be adaptable and curious to seize opportunities when they arrive.

As I am just beginning my career journey, I plan to apply this lesson when considering not only the “what” when it comes to job alternatives, but more importantly, the “when.” 

The everyday experience: making things happen

Overall, my day at Mastercard was a highly immersive and enriching experience. Krstic and the entire Mastercard team welcomed me with open arms, which helped me make the most of my day. It was fascinating to gain a deeper understanding of the payments industry and how it would only be scratching the surface to consider Mastercard as “just a credit card company.” Moreover, I was inspired to see how Krstic manages her own day to day while setting and aligning the long-term, strategic goals for a large organization. Krstic emphasized how her biggest goal coming out of her MBA program was to “make things happen,” and it was clear to me how her everyday contributes towards that. Needless to say, my CEOx1Day experience was absolutely priceless.