Skandalaris Center

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Deborah Barta of Mastercard Joins Skandalaris Center National Council

Nancy Nigh
July 16, 2021

The Skandalaris Center is thrilled to announce Deborah Barta, Senior Vice President of Provenance and Strategy at Mastercard to the Skandalaris Center National Council. Deborah is an alum of Olin School of Business having majored in Finance and Music.

In joining the Skandalaris Center National Council, Deborah looks “forward to further contributing to an already-vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem at WashU and engaging more deeply with the diverse community to support the mission of Skandalaris.”

“Debbie has contributed so much to the WashU entrepreneurial community,” shared II Luscri, Managing Director and Assistant Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Her understanding of the needs of our community and strong connections to classes and programs on campus will bring a much-needed perspective to our National Council.”

Deborah Barta is the Senior Vice President of Provenance & Strategy at Mastercard, driving global intrapreneurial teams to accelerate high-potential concepts to market and co-create alongside partners, startups and fintechs.  She also led Mastercard’s global startup accelerator and investments. Prior to Mastercard, she led consulting engagements for Deloitte, IBM, PwC and Andersen. 

Deborah serves on the boards of the non-profits New York Tech Alliance and the Piatigorsky Foundation.  In addition to her studies at Olin, she holds an M.B.A. from Webster University and a Professional Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Stanford University.  In 2014, Deborah was recognized by the St. Louis Business Journal with one of the publication’s first Annual Innovation Awards.

In the following Q&A Deborah shares her experience and entrepreneurial background.

Please share a little bit about your professional journey – how did you get to where you are now?

Early on, I became fascinated by the possibilities of embracing the entrepreneurial ethos inside the corporate environment, which allowed me to develop and internally exit two startups built within Mastercard Labs (our R&D engine), lead our global corporate accelerator program for startups and fintechs, create AI and blockchain portfolios of new startup incubations, and manage the programs to build the innovation muscle of our org through hackathons and more. Along the way, I augmented my work with higher education and opportunities to volunteer at WashU, as education has always been a fundamental component of my journey.

What is your favorite thing about entrepreneurship and Innovation?

I love working with passionate people that thrive in ambiguity, bringing diverse thinking and varied experiences to address real challenges with a sense of urgency – and have a laugh along the way.  It’s not the easiest road, but for me it has certainly fostered lifelong learning, humility(!) and a belief that you can be the change.  It’s both an art and a science.

What advice would you give to someone considering creating a startup or entering a career in entrepreneurship?

There are many different paths to an enriching journey.  From establishing your own startup to advancing corporate innovation, you can carve out a niche that’s fulfilling for you, but it’s helpful to know what fuels you. “It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves.” — Andre Gide

What are some of your personal interests and hobbies outside of work?

I thoroughly enjoy mentoring startups and serving on my non-profit boards.  More personally, I still love playing the piano.  I’m a fur-mommy with 3 pups and 2 cats.  It’s easier to prioritize what’s important in life when you’re surrounded by unconditional love and cuteness.  I enjoy golf, but my skills don’t exactly match my ambitions so I endeavor to move the ball forward and enjoy the fresh air.