Mastercard Foundation CEO Reeta Roy: “People Who Have These 3 Powerful Relationships Are More Likely To Be Successful”

6 min readJun 7, 2020

By: Tom-Chris Emewulu, SFAN President & Founder.

As a career coach and entrepreneur, I am continually looking for best practices and strategies that help people 10X their career growth and achieve faster results.

I recently came across a Tweet by Reeta Roy, President, and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation, on the above subject. And I think the wisdom it communicates will be beneficial in these times.

Now, if you’re wondering why you should spend your precious time on yet another listicle of relationship advice, here is a snippet of Reeta’s resume:

  • She is the President and CEO of Mastercard Foundation, one of the world's largest private foundations.
  • Under her leadership, the Foundation has focused its work on Africa and committed more than US$2.6 billion to advance education and financial inclusion.
  • Reeta was a beneficiary of scholarships that allowed her to complete her education, and mentors continue to support her growth as a leader.
  • She is a member of the African Transformation Leadership Panel. She is regularly called upon by the United Nations and regional bodies in Africa, such as the African Center for Economic Transformation, to advocate for youth employment solutions.
  • Before joining the Foundation, Reeta was the Divisional Vice President of Global Citizenship and Policy at Abbott and was Vice President of the Abbott Fund, its corporate foundation.

In a nutshell, when this woman gives advice, it’s not only smart to listen, but you can be sure that it works. Dean Stavridis of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy called her “a force for change and an exceptional leader.”

Below are Reeta Roy’s recommendations on three powerful relationships you must have to move your career forward with that backdrop.

Number 1: Those traveling the same road and have seen the path ahead

“I had terrific mentors while I was in the corporate world. I had people who helped me to continue to grow and to constantly reflect on what it is I wanted to do,” Reeta said on another platform.

Ask anybody — here or there — and he or she will tell you that mentorship is vital for career growth. A growing body of research has shown that people who received excellent mentoring are more likely to have an enriched career. For example, a team of researchers analyzed forty-three studies contrasting the different career outcomes of mentored employees with their counterparts. The results show that mentored employees receive higher compensation and promotions, are more satisfied and committed to their job, and are more likely to believe they will advance in their careers.

Whether you’re building a business or working a job, some people have traveled the same or a similar path. And have seen ahead. Instead of working the bolts and nuts of the journey alone, you can make their hindsight your foresight.

Number 2: Peers to celebrate victories and keep you true to your mission

“We live in a time when our relationships are mediated by technology. We have never been more connected and yet more lonely. Don’t give up intimacy for likes. Deep, real relationships have the power to transform us, teach us and anchor us as we move through the world,” said Reeta Roy in a 2017 Convocation Speech at the University of Toronto.

Several research studies have tested the relationship between accountability and success. According to a study by the Association for Training and Development (ATD), your probability of achieving something depends on being specific and committed. Just choosing to achieve something increases your chances from 10% to 25%. Deciding on when and how to go about it takes your chances of succeeding to 50%. And committing your goals to someone gives you, at least, a 65% chance of completing them. But, having a specific accountability partner increases your chance of success to 95%.

Accountability partnership, or as I prefer to call it, A-Game Partnership, is the easiest way to turbo-charge your career. You are far more likely to lie to and disappoint yourself than someone you trust and respect.

Do you have A-Game partners? Do you have people who are challenging you to grow and outdo your past, uncover your blind spots, and ease the journey's pain?

You need talented people around you. Not just a few, you need a network of A-Game partners.

Which brings me to Reeta’s third recommendation:

Number 3: People who can benefit from your mentorship

“The most exciting and greatest privilege in life is to be invested in someone’s success when we have little or nothing to gain. Sometimes we forget some people are following us. But when you remember others count on you, then you know quitting is not an option.” — Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The Mastercard Foundation.

A twin article published in 2007 in the Science and Intelligence journals found that first-born children are more intelligent than their later-born brothers and sisters. And their higher IQs result from the time they spend showing their younger siblings the ropes. These findings date back to historical facts. People have known that the best form of learning occurs while we’re teaching for many ages and generations.

To quote the famed Roman philosopher Seneca, “while we teach, we learn.”

I can attest to that transformation in my career. Sharing unique insights into the African innovation ecosystem and supporting several young entrepreneurs and professionals has been a rewarding experience in the past 6 years. My career has taken a remarkable spike.

Realizing that you have to teach something makes you work harder to understand the material, recall it more accurately, and apply it more effectively. This is what experts call The Protégé Effect.

In closing this article, I want to leave you with another quote from Ms. Roy: “Relationships are rich, messy, and demanding. They help us learn who we are and who we are not. Relationships help us show up for others, be an ally, a truth-teller, and to care. They move us to find meaning in this world. They are also the essence of community.”

Building your career is based on developing relationships. The quality of your relationships will determine the trajectory of your life. So take your time with it.

If you want to join our coaching program or learn how to collaborate in unlocking the potential of Africa’s youth, click here.

Tom-Chris Emewulu is the Founder & President of SFAN (Stars From All Nations), an education company that unlocks the potentials of young people through EPIC events and a six-week talent accelerator program called Readyforwork. He is an education and policy enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana, and a former consultant at the Mastercard Foundation. He is also the author of the forthcoming book Breaking the Limits. His works have been featured in Forbes, DW, Ventures Africa, Business Insider, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.




SFAN is the education company that unlocks the potential of Africa’s young geniuses by helping them turn their passion into businesses and fulfilling careers.