#36: Mastercard’s JoAnn Stonier on Responsible AI and Applying Human-Centric Design Principles to Data Problems


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JoAnn Stonier loves her role. After all, when you’re the Chief Data Officer for Mastercard, the opportunities to create real change are plentiful. But Stonier knows her work is about more than just data privacy and governance, it’s about aligning the company’s data strategy to business goals and impacting the organization in a positive way. And of course, making sure that all 725 million of Mastercard’s credit card holders are protected.

With a career rooted in privacy, a degree in law, and a background in interior design, Stonier is not just a well-rounded CDO, she’s a visionary. On this episode of The Data Chief, JoAnn joins Cindi for an inside look at data’s impact on people, data ethics, and the importance of building trustworthy models.

Main Takeaways

  • The CDO is an enabler of the business: In Joann’s own words, “the role of the CDO is to engage the business in tomorrow’s business.” This means CDOs must consistently be aligned with the company's goals, and develop capabilities that lay track for future innovation. Great data governance, data management, and data quality are table stakes. The CDO must also have a sense for where the market is going and how the business can carve out new space for itself to deliver value to customers.
  • Data is about people: As a data leader, it’s easy to get caught up in the novelty and opportunity of innovation. But data is more than an anonymized collection of 0s and 1s, it’s about people and the tremendous impact it can have on their lives. As products and services are developed, it’s important to apply individually-centric design principles and evaluate how you might be affecting someone, for better or worse, on the other side.
  • Responsible AI starts with trustworthy data: Simply put, data is food for AI. In order to build ethical or responsible AI and machine learning algorithms, there must be improvement in data trust and quality. Oftentimes these algorithms are missing integral data points that neglect particular demographics. This creates a level of bias in the numbers that will only continue to be amplified over time.

About JoAnn

JoAnn Stonier is the Chief Data Officer for Mastercard, where she is responsible for the enterprise data strategy and management, including identifying and mitigating data risks across the company, as well as influencing data-driven products, overseeing data policy and governance. She advises executive management on a broad range of complex data policy and regulatory issues. Prior to her current position, Ms. Stonier established the first Privacy Office for Mastercard in 2008, and developed the organization’s Information Governance program beginning in 2013. Prior to joining Mastercard, Ms. Stonier was the Chief Privacy Officer for American Express Company.

JoAnn is a recognized data and privacy expert and is sought after for her innovative and practical approach to solving problems in the digital age. In 2018 she assisted in the creation and launch of Trūata, an Irish data trust enterprise, formed to ensure anonymization compliance with the EU-General Data Protection Regulation. She currently serves on their board. In addition to the Trūata board of directors, she currently advises a broad range of industry and policy groups regarding data innovation and privacy including: the United Nations Global Privacy Advisory Group; the World Economic Forum’s Data Driven Development Steering Committee; and the Board of Directors of the Information Accountability Foundation. She is also a Board Advisor for Hope for the Warriors, a non-for-profit organization that assists U.S. military personnel and their families. She has served on the Board of Directors for the International Association of Privacy Professionals from (2013-2018) and served on the Executive Committee in multiple roles including Chairman in 2017. For her data thought leadership, Ms. Stonier has been recognized by the Information Governance Initiative as the Chief Information Governance Officer of 2015 and in 2011 she was named as an Aspen Institute First Mover Fellow.

Ms. Stonier received her Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University in Queens, and her Bachelor of Science degree from St. Francis College. Ms. Stonier is a lawyer and holds memberships in the Bar of the State of New York and the Bar of the State of New Jersey.


The Data Chief is presented by our friends at ThoughtSpot. Searching through your company’s data for insights doesn’t have to be complicated. With ThoughtSpot, anyone in your organization can easily answer their own data questions, find the facts, and make better, faster decisions. Learn more at thoughtspot.com.

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