Finance Analyst - Graduate Profile

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Q&A with Sophie Bunce

Finance Analyst Joined 2015

Studied BSc Management | University of Nottingham

Why Capital One?

During my second year at university, I was given the opportunity to take part in a community challenge at Capital One HQ. The fun working environment, the culture and the people I met instantly won me over. It sparked my interest so much that as soon as I got home, I began researching Capital One and what they do. It wasn’t long before my decision had been made – this was where I was going to begin my career!

What’s surprised you about Capital One?

In my role as a Finance Business Partner, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the Leadership Team, and it has become apparent how our leaders truly live by our values. This creates a fantastic place to work where your ideas and creativity are encouraged. It’s shown me that culture isn’t defined by games rooms and Friday drinks – it’s about the message and strategy driven from the top.

What’s been your standout moment?

My standout moment to date was being promoted to Senior Finance Analyst within my first year at Capital One. My manager has heavily invested in my development, which has allowed me to learn an incredible amount in a short space of time. I’ve made a brilliant start to my career thanks to mentoring and coaching from some of the best brains in the business.

How is your work Reimagining Money and Inspiring Lives?

Currently I’m working on the annual budget, which allows me to get an insight into our future business strategy. Ensuring that the customer is at the heart of everything we do drives our mission of Reimagining Money and Inspiring Lives.

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UX Designer - Graduate Profile

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Q&A with Syeef Karim

UX Designer Joined 2014

Studied BSc Computer Science | Manchester Metropolitan University

Why Capital One?

The business genuinely cares about improving the experience of customers, which distinguishes it from other financial services organisations.

 

What’s been your standout moment?

It would have to be when the customer account management mobile app that I worked on launched and became available to customers. Their feedback was full of praise, which is always satisfying as it signifies a job well done.

 

What’s been the biggest challenge?

We interact with most of our customers virtually which makes it challenging to understand any issues they may be experiencing. To overcome this, we host regular customer meet-and-greet sessions which really helps create a richer relationship with them.

 

How is your work Reimagining Money?

Right now, I’m working on customer identity management which helps our customers use our products and services more securely and with more confidence.

 

What’s the most unexpected thing about Capital One?

The fact that we’re tech-driven and we embrace change and experimentation. We try to break new ground on our mission to Reimagine Money which means we’re agile and we never get stuck in a certain rigid frame of thinking.

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Sponsoring Serverless Conference

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Serverless technology is at the very tip of the tech envelope. So you might be wondering why Capital One UK would have its name in @ServerlessConf’s Twitter feed, alongside the likes of Amazon and Microsoft as a main sponsor and contributor of content.

Running code and data serverless is very likely the next revolution for our industry. Our employees and leaders are always listening out for the whispers of change. When the ground began shifting to Cloud Technology around 2007, Capital One started to pivot to embrace that change.

And what started as a snowball has rolled into an avalanche of transformation across every area of our business. We’re moving to a new way of Public Cloud, Open Source, Design Excellence and intelligent APIs.

We’re talking about one of our open source offerings at the conference, Cloud Custodian, a rules engine for AWS management. Cloud Custodian lets you define policies for a well-managed cloud infrastructure that’s both secure and cost-optimised. It replaces many of the adhoc scripts organisations have into a lightweight and flexible tool, with unified metrics and reporting.

Ask any Capital One employee and they are very used to change. It’s by far one of our greatest bench strengths. We are on a journey to transform ourselves into a technology leader that also happens to offer award winning financial products.

Of course, it hasn’t always been easy. Balancing the needs of our customers (always rightly front of mind) and operating in a highly regulated field, all while juggling our incumbent tech offers a unique challenge.

I’ve been at Capital One for more than 16 years. I joined as a network engineer (gotta love IP, still going strong!) back in the early 2000s, and was part of the team that built the original resilient multi-homed ISP network and security post Y2K.

These days, it’s rare for to stay with one company for more than two years,and I sometimes get asked, “How come you’re still there?’.

The answer is simple:

  • Learning is exponential
  • Change is continual
  • The enrivonment is incredibly flexible and empowering
  • I get to work with some of the smartest, most rounded folks on the planet
  • We are rewarded, trained and pushed to do the best work of our lives

These ingredients permeate into our Technology culture, and make up a progressive, exciting and balanced place to work. Companies don’t place in the Top 5 ‘Great Place To Work’ for 5 years running for nothing.

As my good friend Drew Firment, Director of Cloud Engineering at Capital One would say:

“Mix with the forward thinking 1 percenters and feed your imagination to the art of the possible”.

 

 

 

Jon Allen is Senior Director, Head of Technology Ops and Chief Engineer @CapitalOneUK

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Serverless at Capital One

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So, what exactly does Serverless mean again?

Firstly, ‘serverless’ doesn’t mean we stop using servers. It just means we don’t have to think about them anymore.  

It’s a way of running code without thinking about the infrastructure it’s running on. Think of it as a layer of abstraction on top of what Containers provide, where instead of managing shared infrastructure, you now only need to manage the code you write.

Serverless architecture pushes you to write small units of code because it doesn’t come with the additional overhead of needing to deploy it to new or shared infrastructure. This also makes the testing process nice and simple, because the scope of the code’s functionality is really narrow.

Here at Capital One UK we’re still in the early stages of adopting Serverless, using it mainly for Cron style jobs and reacting to events produced by Amazon Web Services (everything from automatic data encryption, to cost management & compliance exercises like GitHub: capitalone/cloud-custodian).

My first experience with Serverless technology was when Amazon released Lambda, their managed AWS service, at Re:Invent back in 2014.  I decided to test it out, so wrote a quick Java API, as well as using it to host a simple Nodejs web app serving content out of S3.

Getting used to working with Serverless technologies has been really straightforward. The learning curve is gentle, and once you’ve cracked the different ways of triggering functions and how to access event data from within its context, the actual processing and sending a response is relatively easy.

I’m not sure every use case that comes along will fit in with what Serverless aims to provide in its current state. But I’m still a believer in it as a technology, and have no doubt Capital One will be using it more and more as we continue to deploy applications to the Cloud.

Of course, within a regulated environment there are always going to be extra hurdles. So it’s encouraging to see Serverless providers working with other technology companies like ourselves, and adding the features needed for new cases to be explored.

One of the biggest benefits of Serverless is removing the requirement for software engineers to understand how to create and manage infrastructure where their code is deployed; or requiring a separate operations team altogether.

It’s had a big impact on time too. Our software developers can now spend more time thinking up great ideas, and less time trying to deploy them into production.

I’m really excited about ServerlessConf London 2016, and can’t wait to see how other organisations and individuals are finding uses for Serverless. Being primarily focused at working within AWS, I’d also like to see some examples of developers using Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Functions to see how they are competing in this space.

If you’re attending ServerlessConf, come over and say hi at the Capital One stand.

See you there!

 

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Capital One.

 

ServerlessConf 2016

ServerlessConf 2016 will be taking over London’s digital playground from 26 – 28 October 2016. The event brings together some of the brightest minds in the industry, and serves as a platform for developers to share experiences and ideas on building applications.

 

Three of this year’s speakers are from Capital One.  

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Business Analyst - Graduate Profile

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Q&A with Jing Li 

Business Analyst | Joined 2014

Studied MSc Project Analysis, Finance and Investment | University of York

 

Why Capital One?

Probably because of its information-based strategy. This means our decisions are based on strong data and rigorous reasoning, which really appealed to me. I was also confident they’d give me the opportunity to learn in detail the methodology, skills and tools of business analysis I needed to get my career off to a flying start.

What’s surprised you most about Capital One?

I only used to think of credit cards as financial products. As most people do, I know they can get you in trouble if they’re not used responsibly. The idea they could have a positive impact on society was a real struggle for me. Now I’ve come to see how we can – and do – bring humanity to money. We genuinely can influence people’s lives positively, simply by offering them the credit and support that they need.

What’s been your standout moment?

We care a lot about community. Earlier this year, I was part of a community event at our offices which used educational games to teach primary school pupils some basic financial knowledge. It’s important and beneficial for children to understand money matters from an early age. At the end of the event, we invited all the kids to vote for whether they found the event useful. 95% voted yes, which made me really proud.

How is your work Reimagining Money and Inspiring Lives?

Right now, I’m focusing on the next release of our valuation model. This will be used to optimise decision making on customer applications; things like whether we should accept or decline the application or what credit limit we should be offering. The valuation model is updated regularly to make sure our lending decisions are fair, appropriate and responsible.

There’s an incredible atmosphere here. You can feel we all share a vision and we’re all pulling together to achieve it. And the possibilities that our work is creating for customers is truly inspiring.

 

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How to create an intelligent ChatBot

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A.I. Bots are computer programmes designed to simulate a human conversation. They’re used to help with things like making a dinner reservation, adding an appointment to your calendar or suggesting the fastest route home.

ChatBots are an increasingly common form of bot that live in messenging apps, iMessage or like WhatsApp. They’ve been making big waves in the tech community this year, and with Facebook’s recent announcement that ChatBots are coming to Messenger, there’s no stopping them.  

The idea of intelligent bots has been around a very long time.

Exactly 70 years ago one of the World’s first computers was built by Alan Turing, the British Mathematician and Computer Scientist. Those of you familiar with Benedict Cumberbatch in his starring role in the ‘Imitation Game’ will recognise the name.

Turing wrote a paper in 1950 called ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’ which was not published until 1969, 15 years after his death. In this paper he wrote about the relationship between computers and nature, and the possibility of artificial intelligence.  

Turing described a basic test, aptly named the Turing Test, which consists of a person asking questions via keyboard to both a person and an intelligent machine. If the computer's answers cannot be distinguished from those of the person, after a reasonable amount of time, the machine is intelligent.

The Turing Test has become the standard measure for the artificial intelligence community. Despite ChatBots having had their first resurgence about 10 years ago, the bots of that time could only do specific tasks and most would fail the Turing Test.

Bot Design vs. App Design                                                  

Fast forward to today and bots have come a long way. We still measure their intelligence against the Turing Test, but also judge them by their ease of use from a user perspective. This is something that software designers refer to as user experience, or UX design.

You can see UX express itself every day in the menus, buttons and screens as you tap and swipe your way through apps like Facebook, Uber and Snapchat.

But when you move to a purely conversational platform like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or SMS you take away all the nice bright colours and cool functionality that help to make these apps so great.

So how do you make a great Bot UX?

This is one of the key questions when optimising design for a conversation. Chatbots may be old, but their design or UX is new, and ensuring your bot is Turing Test smart is no longer enough to stand out.

Chatbot UX should be smooth, have slick menus and ultimately be engaging. After all, optimising for design means optimising for engagement – the aim is to keep users coming back.

Not all bots should be designed to replace apps. Better apps will replace apps and a bot offers a very different user experience than an app.

Natural conversation

The best ChatBots talk like a human in natural language.

This is a mistake I see plenty of Facebook Messenger bots make every day. Even a butler in a high end hotel would never start a conversation with “Hi, my name is Owen and I’m here to serve you anything you want. Go on give me a try by asking me what drink you want?” What kind of person speaks like this?

Natural language processing (NLP) is the interaction of computers and humans in natural language i.e. how people actually speak. Why ask me an open question then lead me with a specific request that you want me to ask you? This may work for a toddler but not for tech savvy adults.

The experience should be seamless

This one’s important. If I access a Chatbot in Messenger, it should keep me in Messenger, not send me from one platform to another. There’s nothing worse than being sent from a messenger, to a browser, on to email for verification and so on.

A brilliant example of a company doing all of this very well at the moment is X.AI, led by founder Dennis Mortensen. The team at X.AI have team developed an impressive virtual assistant called Amy Ingram. Simply cc Amy into your emails, and she schedules all your meetings and manages your diary for you.

Another great example is Kayak’s Facebook Messenger Chatbot. It can find and book your flight, hotel and hire car anywhere in the world. And all without leaving conversation in Messenger.

 

About WealRo

Owen Haggith-Khonje is the Founder of WealRo, a London based tech startup that’s using artificial intelligence to revolutionise the way people manage their personal finances.

WealRo are one of 5 ambitious startups taking part in Capital One’s Growth Labs - a 10 week FinTech Accelerator Program designed to help startups develop new ideas into working products.

Visit WealRo to find out more and sign up to their A.I. finance coach.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Capital One.

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