Most financial industry types prefer to stick to straight-and-narrow career paths. But Noah Hanft, MasterCard's general counsel and chief franchise officer, has never been afraid to veer off course.

Hanft, 61, is retiring from MasterCard (MA) on March 31 after 27 years there. Rather than break out the fly-fishing gear, he's departing to head the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution — a nonprofit that helps some of the world's largest companies, including BP, General Electric, IBM and MasterCard itself, resolve commercial disputes.

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