“If any 45-year-old in a suit wants to give you any advice, be very careful”, is the first piece of advice Gerald Gruber would give his 14-year-old self. As General Manager Austria he carries a lot of responsibilty: “I lead the local organisation for MasterCard, I manage a team of nine people at the moment.”
Was steht auf Deiner Visitenkarte?
My business card has my name on it, which is Gerald Gruber and it gives my job title which is Country Manager or General Manager, Austria.
Worum geht es in Deinem Job?
Mastercard is a payment scheme and a technology provider for the payment industry. What we do is we provide technologies for merchants, customers, cardholders, and banks to do payment transactions. My day is actually quite versatile, and it's kind of tough to describe a specific day. It's full of appointments with the team, with customers, with technology partners, with media, with government institutions, with doing emails. Yeah, I guess that's about it. I lead the local organization for Mastercard. I manage a team of nine people at the moment here. What we do as a team is we introduce innovations in payment to the Austrian market. Usually the week starts with team meeting. Every Monday morning we meet as a team. We exchange news, recent updates, and information on what's happening, and then it might include all kinds of things. Local customer visits. I might travel. We're embedded in a European organization, so there's meetings happening outside of Austria. There is customer meetings happening in Austria. There is team sessions happening in the office. It's really very versatile, and there is no typical workweek as such.
Wie sieht Dein Werdegang aus?
I was born and brought up in the south of Austria in Graz. I studied mathematics and computer science, worked for an IT consulting company, went to London, did a Master's in Business Administration in London Business School, joined a strategy consulting company for six years, joined a technology company in Austria for three years and then moved to Mastercard. So it was actually a very untypical background for the payment industry. Lots of technology has happened in the past. I started as a country manager three years ago, and that's been my only position so far. Hopefully not the last one.
Ginge es auch ohne Deinem Werdegang?
It would be extremely arrogant if I would say you could not do this job without my background, right? Yes, certainly you could, and I guess people with different backgrounds would do it in a different way, but probably just as good as I do it. So that's certainly possible. I think what's needed in this particular role as a general manager for a small organization, or a small country organization, is you need to find a balance between a strategic view and getting things done, and the balance between understanding the dynamics of a small team and understanding the context of a large multinational organization, which Mastercard is.
Was ist das coolste an Deinem Job?
The coolest thing, I think, is that what we are doing here actually has an impact on people's daily lives in Austria. So when I go out into a supermarket, I can see the effect of what we've been doing. Most recently introduction of contactless payments in Austria, for example. I think that's one of the coolest things.
Welche Einschränkungen bringt Dein Job mit sich?
I guess the challenges that being a general manager in a small organization like this is that you do lots of different things, which is actually cool, but you can only do them to a certain level of depth and detail. Sometimes I miss the depth of getting really into something because there's just not time for it. I guess that's the drawback you have to live with.
Drei Ratschläge an Dein 14jähriges Ich!
Well the first piece of advice I would give is if any 45-year-old in a suit wants to give you any advice, be very careful and be aware of what he's saying. He might not have a clue of what you're actually doing. Second piece of advice, listen to your inner voice much more than listening to what other people say. And third, which is a personal thing, probably one of the things I regret, is reconsider if you really don't want to learn another language, which I refused at the age of 14.