A woman standing outdoors with trees in the background. She is smiling at the camera.
Aoife Martin. Image: Mastercard

Aoife Martin: Coming out and transitioning in the workplace

26 Apr 2022

Aoife Martin discusses her role at Mastercard and shares her experience as a transgender woman who transitioned during her time working at the company.

Aoife Martin is a business operations manager with Mastercard, having worked at the company for almost 10 years. She is also a columnist for The Journal and is on the board of directors for Transgender Equality Network Ireland.

Martin told SiliconRepublic.com about her experience coming out as a trans woman and transitioning in the workplace. She also discussed her role as part of the biz ops team and shared some of her top productivity tips while working from home.

‘Diverse voices help a company grow and succeed’

If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?

I’m very much a morning person. I like to log on early while drinking my coffee and it’s quiet. I read through emails, check my schedule for the day and flag if anything came in overnight that requires my attention.

I have a call every morning with my team – this is even more important since working from home. We discuss issues, ongoing or new, which the team might have or need help with.

Throughout the day I use Microsoft Teams to keep in touch with various people and teams. It’s a quick and effective way of communicating with people across the organisation. I also use it to schedule meetings, take calls, etc.

I also find Microsoft OneNote very useful for keeping notes, storing information, jotting down ideas, making lists, adding emails etc. It’s my first port of call when I’m looking for information.

I enjoy ending the day with updating my to-do list. There’s something pleasurable about ticking off items that you’ve completed – although I usually end up adding more items to the list as well. I also take a quick look at my calendar to see what’s coming up tomorrow in case there’s anything that I need to prep for.

As we’ve been primarily working from home, I try to log off at a reasonable hour, although sometimes that can be a challenge. The one rule I’ve set for myself is that when I log off, I don’t log on again unless it’s for something urgent. Working in downtime is important to achieving a healthy work-life balance.

What types of project do you work on?

Working in the biz ops space, much of what I do is reactive. The team supports several customer-facing applications and I’m proud of the commitment and dedication we have in ensuring our customers’ needs are met.

Every day brings new challenges, which means no two days are the same so it never gets boring. I am always learning and, as a result, we are always looking at ways to improve how we do things – be that using automation, writing scripts, documenting new processes and so on.

I’m particularly proud of various innovations we have brought to our day to day. It has changed so much from how we used to do things when I first joined the biz ops family several years ago.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

I was recently made a manger under a new programme so I’m learning new skills, particularly in terms of leadership.

I think communication is a key skill and it is something I’m very passionate about, especially in terms of creating new processes and interacting with people and teams across the globe. I’m really excited about the new leadership challenges that are coming my way.

Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the day?

One of the things I find that really helps with my productivity is to step away from the screen every now and then and go outside for a short walk, even if it’s only for 10 minutes.

I think it’s even more important when working from home as it’s all too easy to stay at your desk. Sometimes that time away from the desk can really help to recharge your batteries.

What’s been the hardest thing you’ve had to face in your career?

I’m a trans woman so the hardest thing I’ve had to do was coming out and then transitioning in the workplace. I spoke to my HR business partner at Mastercard who was helpful.

We developed a roadmap of what needed to be done – who to tell and when? Name changes, badge changes, etc, and we met on a weekly basis to ensure everything was going smoothly and that there was nothing we had overlooked.

It was very much an open conversation between the two of us and in the end, everything went well. My colleagues and management were, and continue to be, hugely supportive and I feel incredibly blessed.

If you had the power to change anything within the STEM sector, what would that be?

I’d like to see more women and people from minority groups in positions of leadership. Diverse voices help a company grow and succeed.

In Mastercard we have several business resource groups, such as the Women’s Leadership Network, that are helping to make this happen. We also have a Relaunch Your Career programme, which helps people return to the workforce after a career break.

This has proved particularly effective in attracting female talent. I’m proud to work for a company where diverse voices are not only encouraged but heard.

How do you make connections with others in the STEM community?

I’ve been very lucky to have had managers throughout my career who have been very technical and not afraid to roll up their sleeves and help. They’ve taught me that leadership isn’t about telling people what to do, but about guiding and mentoring others.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

The variety. I like that when I log on in the morning, I have no idea what the day is going to bring and that’s exciting.

I also love that I get to interact and collaborate with so many inspiring and talented people, not just here in the Dublin office but across the globe. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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