Training Top 125 Best Practice: Mastercard’s PME Foundations

Mastercard converted its two-day, in-person Product Management Excellence (PME) Foundations course into a cost-neutral 3.5-week social/digital experience.

In the fast-paced digital payments marketplace, growing the business requires Mastercard to proactively build and master its product management skills. The organization’s executive leadership defined this focus as Product Management Excellence (PME)—how Mastercard creates, builds, and manages products to drive future success. In 2016, Mastercard was delivering a traditional, two-day, in-person product management program, but faced challenges of cost and efficiency, scalability, and learning transfer. The company needed an innovative learning strategy to engage and empower product managers to take their development and products to the next level. 

The solution was to convert the two-day, in-person PME Foundations course into a cost-neutral 3.5-week social/digital experience. The new course was designed to reach Mastercard’s dispersed global audience with just-in-time learning while building in applied exercises to enhance their existing products.

Program Details

The Training team created bite-sized lessons combining video stories, animated shorts, discussion questions, and virtual challenges related to the products participants manage. Participants immediately apply what they learn to real-time product situations. 

Mastercard’s social/digital platform delivers the content in 30-minute daily bursts across 3.5 weeks. Virtual discussion challenges connect global participants to share key insights and examples. Product managers collect these results to build out their product plan, providing a future direction. Mastercard’s chief product officer and other Mastercard experts provided impactful video messages to build urgency, highlight the challenges ahead, and encourage active participation.

The course is 100 percent self-paced and digital, allowing participants to engage as their busy schedules permit. Following each daily lesson, participants receive a quiz on their mobile device testing their knowledge. Missed questions are reintroduced until mastered.


From April 2017 to August 2018:


  • 803 participants 
  • 42 countries
  • 56,541 activities completed 
  • 5,228 social conversations 

Learning Transfer:

  • +19 percent pre-/post-knowledge increase; 26,758 quiz attempts

Cultural Impact:

Three-month pre-/post-increases:

  • +39 percent for “Understanding Product Management Excellence at Mastercard”
  • +29 percent for “Knows what it takes to be an effective product manager at Mastercard”

Pre-/post-three-month behavior change:

  • +13 to 25 percent increases in all 12 areas measured
  • For example, how to conduct market research, competitor analysis, and pricing strategies:
  • 638 work examples shared 
  • 418 product plans completed, plus plans (10 to 15 pages) representing current and projected product performance guiding roadmap planning and executive investment decisions

Level 4 cost and efficiency since 2017:

  • The program saves $16,000 per delivery.
  • Efficiency savings are estimated at $750 per participant. 
  • The cost-neutral program will realize an estimated $97,000 in future savings per quarter.

In addition, learners are empowered to apply new concepts immediately to their products, plan for future innovation, and spend their time actively solving real-world problems facing Mastercard customers. 

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