Capital One’s Digital Diaspora: How One Bank Became A Wellspring Of CIO Talent For Many Companies

Quite a number of of at present’s high CIOs hung out earlier of their careers at industrial corporations equivalent to GE and Ford, whose coaching packages have churned out cohort after cohort of spectacular IT leaders. Their successors, although, usually tend to have CVs that boast stints at game-changing expertise corporations equivalent to Google or Amazon.

Or Capital One. Although it’s a financial-services firm that provides bank cards, loans and different merchandise, the McLean, Virginia-based enterprise, which generated $28.5 billion in income final yr and noticed internet revenue rise 27%, to $3.Three billion, within the first quarter of 2021, boasts the DNA of a software program large. And over the previous few years, it’s quietly emerged as a coaching floor for proficient executives who’re cropping up in increasingly IT management positions throughout company America.

The checklist consists of Noelle Eder, the worldwide CIO of insurer Cigna; Michael Wisler, the CIO of M&T Bank; Sam Deshpande, the chief expertise and threat officer of well being insurer Humana; Skip Potter, the chief digital info officer of Columbia Sportswear; and Chandra Dhandapani, the chief administrative officer of business actual property large CBRE, who was previously its chief digital and expertise officer and now has tech reporting as much as her. Venkat Achanta, the chief knowledge officer and CTO of information-services firm Neustar, and David Gordon, the chief expertise and knowledge officer of USAA Federal Savings Bank, are amongst different notable alums.

“Being at Capital One was like living, working and learning in the future,” says M&T’s Wisler, who was on the firm for over 18 years earlier than leaving in April 2018 and lately featured on Forbes’ inaugural CIO Next list of innovative technology executives. “It has produced a lot of leaders …that can be found doing great things across banking and other industries,” he provides.

A digital epiphany

An enormous motive for that lies in a strategic pivot that occurred round ten years in the past. Back in 2010, Capital One, like most different banks, was nonetheless outsourcing an enormous chunk of its software-development exercise and didn’t contemplate expertise as actually strategic. But after buying ING Direct, a digitally-focused financial-services firm, in 2011, it had an epiphany and subsequently launched an bold plan to show itself into a pacesetter in code-driven innovation.

Today, it’s a software program powerhouse with a expertise workers of just about 11,000 individuals, 85% of whom are software program engineers. It’s additionally within the vanguard of growing superior tech equivalent to synthetic intelligence and machine studying, having acquired 500 worldwide AI patents and with purposes for a lot of extra into account. It has used this experience to develop issues equivalent to Eno, a digital assistant that helps shield prospects towards fraud, and Auto Navigator, a service that simplifies automobile shopping for and financing.

“Early in our digital transformation we made a commitment to invest like the very best technology companies do,” explains Rob Alexander, who has been the corporate’s CIO since May 2007. “That meant developing our own software engineering talent and reimagining traditional IT operating models.” As a part of that reimagination, Alexander, who additionally seems on the CIO Next checklist, has moved Capital One’s computing operations fully into the general public cloud and has rolled out automated strategies for producing and deploying software program.

Plenty of different massive corporations are actually dashing to digitize their very own operations. This intense race has drawn extra CIOs out of their conventional, keep-the-lights-and computers-on roles and morphed them into strategic leaders who wield enormous budgets and vital affect within the C-suite—a dramatic change that’s been underlined by their current heroic efforts to assist corporations climate the impression of the pandemic.

Capital One’s early begin within the race and its deep dedication to code-driven change means its former executives’ expertise is very invaluable. “I think folks are compelled by [our] transformation,” says Alexander. “They learn how to do it at Capital One and how hard it is. And that makes them very attractive [to others].”

What’s in your knowledge?

Former staff additionally stand out as a result of they’ve been educated by the corporate to assume continually about what’s greatest for patrons primarily based on insights derived from knowledge. “That helps them in positioning themselves [for jobs]…It’s not just about doing data science because everybody else is. It’s really because of the focus on the customer,” says Somer Hackley, the CEO of Distinguished Search, who has recruited executives for Capital One and in addition positioned former staff into IT positions at different corporations.

Sam Deshpande, who spent virtually 18 years at Capital One and is now at well being insurer Humana, says his expertise utilizing analytics at scale on the financial-services firm is shaping how he thinks about sure issues in his present function, equivalent to growing extra expansive digital well being data that make it simpler for docs to identify info that may enhance therapy outcomes for sufferers.

Deshpande notes that Capital One’s behavior of rotating workers frequently between totally different components of its operations has given its alumni a broad perspective on the place expertise can have an effect. “If you are a business leader [at Capital One], you understand the tech enough to know what it can do, and if you are a tech leader you can see the business problems it will help solve,” he says.

CBRE’s Dhandapani, who additionally spent virtually 18 years at Capital One, was amongst those that benefited from working in many various areas, together with auto finance and direct-to-consumer lending. “I felt like the company had this innate sense of knowing when I would get bored, They kept me…interested by giving me so many opportunities.”

This strategy has helped Capital One develop a deep bench of what administration specialists wish to name “T-shaped” leaders—ones who’ve a broad enterprise perspective (represented by the horizontal line throughout the highest of the “T”) and a deep experience in a specific space equivalent to expertise. The financial institution’s IT executives are incessantly evaluated towards a number of standards, together with whether or not they’re “talent magnets” who can entice and retain nice workers, “creative technologists” who provide you with revolutionary methods to use tech to unravel enterprise points and “uncompromising operators” who’ve a powerful risk-management mindset and are extremely efficient at getting issues executed.

Former executives say the corporate’s recruitment and talent-development methods have performed an important function in its success. “Capital One has an amazing recruiting machine…in terms of the rigor that it applies to hiring,” says CBRE’s Dhandapani. She is partly drawing on its strategy to expertise administration to assist redesign recruitment and coaching practices at the actual property agency, which has given her new views on management because of her expanded accountability for HR, advertising and different capabilities in addition to IT. One instance: CBRE is creating inner academies centered on studying and improvement which are partially impressed by comparable setups at Capital One. 

Recruitment drive

Capital One’s CIO Alexander stresses that the corporate has put years of effort into positioning itself on faculty campuses as a sexy different vacation spot to massive tech corporations. It’s additionally set a really excessive bar for exterior recruits and has tapped into expertise properly past the monetary world. “They would say ‘We’re a tech company, not a bank’,” says recruiter Hackley, who was inspired to supply hires from a variety of various industries.

Some of the highest execs the corporate has developed have moved on, but it surely has stored lots extra and its expertise engine exhibits no indicators of slowing down. In reality, it’s about to enter overdrive. Capital One intends to rent over 3,000 individuals into its tech perform in 2021. Says Alexander: “We expect this to be our biggest year of recruiting ever.”

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