Sabrina Tharani Libby: Inspiring Female Leadership in Technology and Finance

Sabrina Tharani Libby is a distinguished leader and the Senior Vice President at Mastercard. Her academic and professional trajectory has been driven by a passion for solving complex problems with real-world impact. With a strong foundation in mathematics, economics, and sociology, Sabrina has consistently sought opportunities to tackle significant challenges on a global scale. Her fascination with the payments industry, its intricate mechanisms of money and data movement among consumers, businesses, and governments in real-time, has shaped her career path and fueled her drive for innovation.

Over a decade at Mastercard, Sabrina has played a pivotal role in spearheading some of the most innovative and groundbreaking payment technologies. Her expertise and relentless pursuit of unique solutions have enabled her to successfully bring new products, establish strategic partnerships, and deliver transformative services across more than 40 countries. This global reach has amplified Sabrina’s impact and deepened her understanding of the diverse challenges different markets and cultures face.

Sabrina takes great pride in her position as a female leader, leading a gender-balanced team of technologists, product managers, and partnership experts. She actively champions the importance of diversity and inclusivity, and Mastercard’s commitment to promoting and celebrating diverse executives aligns seamlessly with her values. Throughout her journey, Sabrina has been fortunate to work alongside brilliant mentors and bosses who have inspired her and contributed significantly to her professional growth.

Driving Digital Transformation and Fostering Innovation

Sabrina Tharani Libby holds a crucial position at Mastercard, where she promotes newness and supports digital transformation initiatives. Currently, she leads Start Path, Mastercard’s well-known program for engaging with startups and venture capital. Her role is to develop essential partnerships between Mastercard and promising fintech. This involves leveraging startups’ technological prowess, agility, and fresh ideas while providing them access to Mastercard’s vast global network, scale opportunities, and valuable commercial prospects.

As the driving force behind Start Path, Sabrina oversees six programs operating in critical areas, such as open banking, digital assets, small business, and emerging fintech. Her leadership and guidance enable Start Path to identify, nurture, and collaborate with promising fintech companies that have the potential to shape the future of commerce on a global scale.

Sabrina has successfully cultivated relationships with nearly 400 companies from 43 countries through her efforts, facilitating numerous impactful partnerships. Her deep understanding of the fintech landscape and business acumen allows her to identify opportunities that drive change, differentiation, and positive impact within the industry.

Sabrina’s role extends beyond overseeing partnerships; she also plays a critical role in ensuring that Mastercard remains at the forefront of industry trends and emerging technologies. Her skills in the payments industry and her ability to navigate the dynamic startup ecosystem enable her to guide Mastercard in identifying and embracing new avenues for growth and advancement.

Empowering Women in Business

Sabrina has a strong conviction that women play a crucial role in the business world and will become the primary drivers of various rapidly expanding industries. She believes having diverse and gender-balanced teams is closely tied to achieving success. Sabrina highlights that such teams perform better, generate higher revenue, attract talented individuals, and create more inclusive products and services.

In recent years, the presence of senior women in boardrooms and leadership teams has brought about a transformation in perspectives. It has challenged these spaces’ previously homogenous nature and encouraged the emergence of fresh, innovative ideas. Sabrina recognizes women’s invaluable contributions to decision-making processes, enriching discussions and fostering a more inclusive and comprehensive approach to problem-solving.

In addition to the corporate sphere, Sabrina acknowledges the pivotal role of women in small businesses, which constitute the vast majority of companies globally and form the bedrock of local communities. Female entrepreneurs and founders, in particular, have emerged as driving forces behind the growth of global economies. Their leadership, vision, and determination create prosperous businesses and have a ripple effect, positively impacting the overall economy and uplifting society.

However, despite progress made in promoting gender equality in the workplace over the past decade, Sabrina recognizes that there are still significant challenges to overcome. Leadership gaps, wage disparities, and limited access for diverse employees persist in many companies and countries. To address these issues, Sabrina emphasizes the need for leaders in the business world to develop thoughtful and meaningful strategies. It is not only the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint, but it also makes sound business sense. By removing barriers and creating equal opportunities for all, companies can unlock the full potential of their workforce, driving revolution, fostering creativity, and achieving sustainable growth.

Building Strong and Purpose-Driven Teams

Sabrina believes that building a great team is both an art and a science, especially in a large, matrixed organization with multiple important objectives. According to Sabrina, several key elements contribute to the ongoing success of her team at Mastercard.

First and foremost, Sabrina stresses the importance of trust, transparency, and authenticity as the foundations of strong working relationships. Mastercard deeply ingrains its company culture with an emphasis on emotional intelligence (EQ) and decency quotient (DQ) alongside intellectual intelligence (IQ). This focus on fairness, integrity, and inclusion creates an environment where individuals feel valued and respected which, in turn, strengthens teams and drives positive results.

Another crucial aspect highlighted by Sabrina is ensuring that each team member can clearly articulate how their day-to-day work aligns with the broader mission and vision of the company. This connection between individual contributions and the larger organizational goals provides a sense of purpose and reinforces the value of each team member’s role. As a leader, Sabrina asserts the importance of understanding the strengths and motivations of team members, leveraging their individual attributes to maximize their impact, happiness, and belief in the projects they are working on.

Moreover, Sabrina stresses the significance of balancing confidence and humility as a leader, particularly for rising women. Demonstrating confidence involves having conviction in the team’s ability to build something meaningful and empowering them to make thoughtful decisions. This confidence instills a sense of trust and belief within the team.

However, humility is equally important, recognizing that leaders cannot possess all the knowledge and competence. Sabrina encourages welcoming feedback, input, and skills training, fostering an environment of continuous learning and growth. By maintaining this balance between confidence and humility, leaders can cultivate an environment where team members feel valued, empowered, and motivated to excel.

Empowering an Inclusive Digital Economy through Innovation and Collaboration

Mastercard is a global technology company operating in the payments space with a mission to empower an inclusive digital economy where transactions are safe, seamless, and secure. With over 210 countries worldwide, Mastercard processes trillions of transactions at millions of acceptance locations, leveraging its data, technology, partnerships, and talented workforce to fulfill its purpose.

The Start Path team is at the forefront of Mastercard’s innovative initiatives, dedicated to fostering partnerships with next-generation. These transformational technologies drive the advancement of the digital economy for both consumers and businesses. The team actively seeks collaborations with startups that reimagine the concept of money and spearhead restructuring at the intersection of sustainability and finance. By closely monitoring trends shaping commerce’s future, the Start Path team plays a pivotal role in designing, building, and commercializing new solutions that address the evolving needs of industries and societies.

Mastercard primarily targets industries across various sectors with its comprehensive range of solutions and services. Its impact extends to financial institutions, merchants, governments, businesses, and consumers globally. By harnessing the power of technology, Mastercard aims to revolutionize payment systems, streamline financial operations, and drive economic growth while promoting inclusivity and security.

Moreover, Mastercard is dedicated to modernism and creating a digital economy that includes everyone. Their efforts are shaping the world of global commerce, helping individuals and businesses succeed in a more connected world.

Unlocking the Path to Success: Valuable Advice for Aspiring Women Leaders

Sabrina is a staunch advocate for aspiring women leaders, and she offers valuable advice to help them overcome challenges and achieve their goals. Sabrina is aware of the prevalent belief that young girls cannot succeed in male-dominated industries, which is a flawed narrative. In response, she highlights that this narrative couldn’t be further from the truth.

Sabrina advises aspiring women leaders to embrace their unique qualities and strengths. She encourages them to recognize and appreciate what makes them special and to harness their skill sets. By doing so, women can leverage their distinctive perspectives and abilities to impact their chosen fields significantly.

A key aspect of Sabrina’s advice is for women to find something they are genuinely passionate about. She encourages them to identify an area that aligns with their personal and professional goals—a field where they can fully invest their energy and enthusiasm. By pursuing their passions, women can channel their drive and determination toward a vision that inspires them.

Sabrina underscores the importance of hard work and dedication. She believes there is no substitute for putting in the effort required to succeed. Women should relentlessly pursue their visions, never shying away from challenges or setbacks. Aspiring women leaders can overcome obstacles and make significant career strides with perseverance and a commitment to their goals.


“Embracing digital transformation and innovation is crucial for any large organization to remain relevant and to fuel future growth.”

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