In the Corner Office section of the New York Times, Adam Bryant interviewed Ann Cairns, the president of international markets at MasterCard, about her career and views on leadership and management.

After obtaining a Master degree in Mathematics, Ann started early in management roles and already managed a team of 50 engineers in her late 20s. She then shifted into banking and moved up the ranks quickly. Ann pointed out some valuable lessons which she learned along the way.

One of the key takeaways on really learning to manage was her comment that “It’s easy to be competitive with your peer group as you’re climbing up the ladder. But over time you realize that in order to make your group effective, you have to think in terms of being one team, and how you can make those relationships the best they can ever be. (…) You see companies where people at that level are competing against each other, and where they’re not, and it makes quite a difference.”

She continued, “you think about what each person will bring to the team, but you also have to think about them as individuals, and where they’re going from and to, because they’ve all got their own paths and things they want to achieve.”

“The other thing that’s really important about building a team is that your team has got to respect you and they’ve got to feel safe. So you create that safe environment, and they’ve got to feel that you’re always acting in their interests.”