Mastercard CMO: Why Innovators Need to Speak ‘The Language of Business’

February 18, 2021

In this episode of One Quick Thing, Raja Rajamannar discusses how advertising is changing, the role of emerging technology like smart speakers in marketing, and more. Rajamannar is the Chief Marketing Officer and President of the Healthcare Business at Mastercard. He is also the author of the book Quantum Marketing.  

Two takeaways from the conversation follow.

How Can Companies Take Advantage of New Tech? 

One way that Rajamannar stays on top of innovation at Mastercard is by knowing his own company’s strengths and weaknesses: “Innovation happens fastest and greatest from small entities, because that’s all they do. They are nimble…they have got the fire in their belly,” he says. “Having worked in large corporations and having managed innovation functions, I can tell you that some of the best innovations that I had were by partnering with very small players.” 

So, Rajamannar is always actively seeking out partnerships with smaller companies and startups. This way, he doesn’t need to be constantly inventing the wheel to stay up to date with new technology. But while smaller companies may have valuable intellectual property, Rajamannar also recommends that corporates look for products that are unique and scalable. 

This episode of One Quick Thing is sponsored by Doblin, a Deloitte business. Doblin is a global innovation firm that helps leading organizations find human-centered solutions to business problems. Together, their team solves complex challenges while helping organizations set their innovation strategy, build new businesses, and spur ongoing growth within their company. View their latest thinking on

Why Innovators Need to Learn “The Language of Business”

In his previous role as Chief Innovation Officer at health care company Humana, Rajamannar learned about the importance of language. While innovators tend to be “right-brained” and more focused on creativity, the typical executive leadership team is “left-brained” and focused on quantitative data, he says.

“There is a little bit of a mismatch between these two [branches]. The company would have lofty aspirations for innovation. … But many of them have this lurking suspicion [that] these innovation guys are a little fluffy, and they are doing things which really don’t matter. It is a very unfortunate reality that pervades in many, many, many companies that I interact with,” he says. 

The key to getting over this challenge is cultivating “the language of business.”  

“It is critical for the innovation leaders to…talk in business language,” he explains. “But at the same time, operate with their full right brain, and inspire their teams or partner with outside entities to be able to get the right kind of creativity and enough commercial innovation — not innovation for sake of innovation, but scalable, commercial innovation that makes a difference to the business. Easier said than done.”