Ann Cairns

ann cairns




Men and women can build exceptional partnerships: 40 years of business has taught me that, 40 years of marriage confirms it.


Ann Cairns is President, International for Mastercard, responsible for the management of all markets and customer-related activities outside of North America.   At Mastercard, Ann has built sustainable, strong growth rates for the company across both mature and emerging markets. She has led the expansion of Mastercard outside North America into different geographies and new customer segments; embracing the continued evolution to digital while driving an increased focus on safety, security and convenience. Ann is passionate about the role Mastercard can play in delivering financial inclusion through innovation and has continued to build the business through new global partnerships with governments, telecommunication companies and organizations including the World Food Programme. Ann brings more than 20 years’ experience working in senior management positions across Europe and the U.S., where she ran global retail, commercial and investment banking operations.  Prior to joining Mastercard in August 2011, Ann was head of the Financial Industry group with Alvarez & Marsal in London, where she led the European team managing Lehman Brothers Holdings International through the Chapter 11 process. Prior to that Ann was CEO, Transaction Banking at ABN-AMRO, and spent 15 years in senior operational positions at Citigroup. Ann sits on the Group Board of the Fortune 500 Company Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and is Chair of ICE Clear Europe. A Pure Mathematics degree at Sheffield University and a M.Sc. with research into medical statistics from Newcastle University resulted in an early career as an award-winning research engineer, culminating as the Head of Offshore Engineer-Planning for British Gas.  Managing a team of 50 plus engineers at a very early age, Ann was the first woman qualified to go offshore in Britain.  

A woman who has inspired me

“I have a lot to say and if I am not number one I can’t say it." - Billie Jean King

My words to share with others

I love the fact that my role in Mastercard helps me do well by doing good. Last year my team set a big goal to provide 100 million meals for kids around the world, working with World Food Program. This year, thanks to campaigns from Sydney to Bogota we will hit that target, that’s Priceless!

My proudest achievement

I am really looking forward to receiving an honorary Doctorate from Newcastle University this year. I feel very proud to be from a small mining village in the North East of England. My career would never have happened without the excellent free education I received.

My thoughts on feminism and women’s suffrage

Today’s feminism is all about balance. Who wants to work in a single sex environment? That was bad enough at school! Men and women make each other behave better. They see things differently and are creative. Let’s not judge who’s better at what, that depends on aptitude, personality and experience, not on gender. Men and women can build exceptional partnerships: 40 years of business has taught me that, 40 years of marriage confirms it.