“We actively try to get people out of debt and improve their financial life. Stop talking about technology – talk about wanting to do good. The technology is what makes it possible.”

Sy Karim, User Experience Designer

The Leadership Perspective

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“We have the opportunity to be a real force for good.”

Chris Newkirk has been at Capital One for 8 years. In his role as CEO, he oversees the UK business as General Manager, as well as taking charge of operations in Canada.

“A business is stronger when it has a clear direction; a genuine sense of purpose. For Capital One,  ‘Reimagine Money, Inspire Life’ gives us this commonly held goal. It also makes for a more interesting and engaging environment. Our purpose, together with our technological capabilities and a highly talented and motivated workforce, mean we have the opportunity to be a real force for good. We’re in a position to help our customers succeed financially.

“The technology we all carry with us these days, be that in tablet or mobile form, means we can have a more connected and supportive relationship with our customers. We can really help change people’s behaviours in a way that’s positive for them. We do this in a number of ways, our products being one of the main ones.

“In the past, if you wanted to sign up for alerts, you had that choice. Now our customers are automatically enrolled so we can remind them when payments are due. It’s about joining the dots, so our customers are free to focus on their lives. They know we’re in their corner. It’s a relationship built on trust – and that’s as it should be.

“We’re encouraging customers to pay down their debt with us as quickly as possible too; particularly ones we’ve observed making smaller payments. We’re experimenting with messaging to see what works to encourage and influence them to make the choices that are right for them. They save on the interest they pay us which comes out of our pockets revenue wise. However, we’re comfortable with taking a short-term hit for the longer term gain of building strong customer relationships.

“Banks have a largely earned reputation for not doing the right things by their customers. It’s important for us to stand apart from these providers. We don’t want to do this through advertising campaigns; it very probably can’t be done this way. Besides, talk is cheap. We want to be judged on our actions and build a positive reputation by doing the right thing by our customers.

“Having this objective means we attract good, talented people who want get fired up by the fact that we stand for something they can believe in. In the tech space, in particular, people want to work on solving interesting problems. We can absolutely offer that here.

“People’s personal financial lives are complex. Some businesses thrive on creating friction in their customer relationships that prevent their customers from succeeding. We want to do the opposite. We want to draw on the talent of Software Engineers and others to help us with that.

“My own role involves setting the bar really high in terms of what it means to help customer succeed financially. It’s about giving the team the freedom to do what they need to do. I’m not the one coming up with the ideas; my job is to go out and find the people that make it happen.”


Using technology to get closer to customers

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In today’s fast-moving world of financial services, technology can make all the difference to the success of a business. Get it right and you increase customer loyalty by improving their all-round experience. Get it wrong and you risk alienating increasingly clued-up and discerning customers. Capital One recognised long ago the potential of technology to enhance its competitive edge. Add this to its objective of working to ‘Reimagine Money, Inspire Life’ and you have a potent force to be reckoned with.

“We’re always look for ways to deliver improved services to our customers,” says Mike Day, Senior Analyst, Marketing Strategy. “It was with this in mind that I managed the business case for our new mobile app. We recognised the importance of giving customers a new way to make payments and manage their accounts. Getting the buy-in of senior stakeholders in our Marketing team and overseeing what the tech team came up with in terms of features was critical.”

With stakeholders sold on the proposition, Mike’s next job was to manage delivery.

“Timescales were tight,” he tells us. “Our old app had a fixed day on which it would go offline and we had to deliver a quality product so that our customers could continue to manage their accounts. This meant that everyone from Tech to Operations had their eyes on the project – I couldn’t be the one to hold it up. I worked closely with both sides: our team, trying to assess and manage credit risks; and the software developers, who were keen to get a product out into the wild.

“We released a brand new app built on a new codebase completely in house with features we had never had in-market before. This gave our customers a new look and feel, as well as new ways to manage their accounts. There are now over half a million people using the app.”

Mark Rosel, Director of Digital Product Management, was responsible for yet another digital innovation. As Capital One has no physical presence in which to engage with customers, its website acts as both a virtual storefront and the source of all new business.  Mark’s role in this critical project involved getting the best results from his experienced Tech teams and the latest technology to deliver a great experience for customers – old and new.

“Our customer are savvy; they’ve got high expectations. Often, though, the financial services sector lags far behind other industries in the digital experiences they deliver. Think how recently it was that payments cleared on day they were initiated. By rebuilding our web technology, we can have real-time interactions with customers to correct errors (fat fingers anyone?) before an application is made and get the credit our customers want to them much faster and with less hassle.”

Mark was fortunate to be surrounded by a very talented and capable team. This left him free to focus on the bigger picture of how the business thinks and talks about being at the forefront of technology in financial services. It was a challenging project but a valuable learning experience for him:

“The biggest challenge was education about cloud computing and applying that to financial services.  Cloud computing itself is not a particularly new concept but its application to the highly sensitive and entrenched world of financial services is. This meant I had to learn a lot about it and influence different parties, both inside Capital One and out, not only about why it was the right thing for us to do, but also why it dramatically improves on current technology.”

So did all the time, effort and hard work pay off? Early indications would seem to say so:

“The project is ongoing but we’ve nearly built our first new functionality in the public cloud and put it in front of customers. All the signs are very positive so far. It’s been great for me too. I understand more about cloud computing and future technology trends. I also learned a lot about how to engage and influence regulators, as well as developing a much more critical, nuanced and informed opinion about the FinTech industry.

“One of the best things about working at Capital One is the scope you have to shape and direct your own career. I have spent much of my career as a data and credit geek, running parts of our decision sciences function. But technology has always been an area of interest for me and Capital One has enabled me to pursue this new direction while making the most of my previous experiences.”



Rob Harding

Chief Information Officer

We are building a world class technology team. I’m looking for talented people that share one thing in common – they want to use technology to help our customers. When you are looking to change an industry your business needs to be highly adaptable. We have thought carefully about how to build teams from across our business to create fantastic products. We collaborate, we visualise our work and we build great solutions. We pride ourselves on creating an environment where people can come together to do the best work of their careers. 

We need people who want to push the boundaries with our products, whether it’s creating new products or improving existing ones. We want people who can grab a new piece of tech and see what it can do for us; people who aren’t afraid to experiment and fail; people who enjoy that test and learn environment. Graduates can have a big impact. You can’t say that of many companies. Culturally, we’re very open to listening, whether you’ve just walked through the door or you’ve been here for 16 years.

I’m looking for creative technologists; people who like making things. Obviously, I am looking for great technical skills but it’s that desire to create, learn and solve problems for our customers that will make a candidate stand out for me.

Graduates can have a big impact. You can’t say that of many companies. Culturally, we’re very open to listening. Whether you’ve just walked through the door or you’ve been here for 16 years.


Dave Warren

Software Engineering Manager

We’re all still learning. If you think you’re the finished article, you’re probably not who we’re looking for. When I joined, I had no professional experience in the technology stack we’re using. I’ve asked a lot of really stupid ‘day-one’ type questions and everyone’s been really supportive. The reason I say this is because we recruit for attitude; we look for people who are curious and ask questions. Tools you can learn, attitude is innate.

For instance, right now, I need to hire six engineers to work on the Java stack. But Java experience won’t be the clincher. If you’re a good engineer and believe in good software engineering and Agile principles, that’s the main thing – everything else is a tool you can learn. So, wherever possible, I try to be tech agnostic.

Dave Warren is pretty new to Capital One. He joined the business as a Software Engineering Manager because he was committed to our software engineering principles and values. This is what he looks for when he’s hiring.

I want to hire problem solvers who want to collaborate with a wider team. To be honest, I’d rather turn away 10 people who are right but just OK than hire one wrong person. Because when you do find that ideal person you’ve been looking for, it reminds you why you set the bar so high. They are out there. We’ve hired a lot of them already.


Dan Jones

UX Design Lead, Software Studio

Shedloads of passion is a great start. I know everyone says that but, for us, it counts for more than technical ability. You’ll need that, obviously, but you need a bit of a fire in your belly to want to shake things up. That can’t be taught. We’re a collaborative business built on ideas. With that in mind, you’ll need to be comfortable designing in the open too; showing and sharing your work means we all get to learn.

Our interview process is an opportunity to show us what you’re made of. That won’t sound daunting if you’re the kind of person you’re looking for; you’ll be excited by it. Essentially, we’ll give you a design challenge and ask you to lead us through an ideation. It’s really important that you’re able to bring stakeholders with you on the journey. So we’ll be looking for how you influence them and respond to their input.

Dan Jones came to Capital One from Microsoft in 2014. When the business offered him the chance to set up the new Software Studio, it was too good an opportunity to miss. Here’s his take on what makes the perfect Capital One person.

Open-minded people who are curious, ready to do things differently and challenge the way we think and do things will fit right in here. We like people who lead with ‘why?’ None of us has all the answers, so don’t be afraid to question something. There’s always a better way.

If you have a particular specialism, that’s great. You can share your expertise with the team. But be ready to learn from them too; think beyond your immediate role and appreciate the bigger picture. We’re looking for team members not rock stars.


Ruth Stevens

Head of UK Procurement

Which big projects has Procurement been involved in recently? How does this relate to the type of work a candidate might expect to do?

We’re involved in all projects that involve suppliers. Recent examples include sourcing offshore call centres to handle customer calls, a Bureau Data Service for our application process and a Cloud Provider agreement so we can build our new infrastructure in the cloud. Needless to say, what we do can have a massive impact on the business. All of our activities involve collaboration across numerous departments. Together, we scope out what we need, identify the suppliers who can provide it and ask them to bid for the business. We work very closely with our colleagues to support them in choosing the best supplier option, as well as writing and negotiating a contract which protects us from both a commercial and legal standpoint.

What do you look for in your ideal candidate? What qualities, skills, etc. are important?

You have to be an excellent all-round communicator and have a collaborative approach. We work with all levels of the business, so you shouldn’t be fazed by working with senior execs. Everyone is very approachable, so there’s no reason why you should be. We also look for proactive people who can work autonomously. Ideas drive our business, so we’ll want to hear yours. Taking ownership of what you do and understanding how this impacts the broader business is important too.

Whether it’s sourcing products or securing services, it matters how we spend our money. Procurement is here to advise the business and ensure it is spent wisely. It’s a fast-paced environment that thrives on collaboration. What we do here has an impact on the success of the wider business and our ability to deliver for our customers.

Describe your hiring ethos/approach to hiring?

We look for people with potential and the ambition to realise it. Our overall aim is to bring new talent into the team and then grow that to be the next generation of leaders. We want someone who can progress, not stand still.

What should a candidate absolutely positively know about your department?

Two things really: firstly, we’re here to enable all business areas. We don’t make the decisions, we influence and advise but we don’t have the final say. The other thing is we’re a regulated financial services company, so there are rules and administration activities which come with the territory. You’ll need to be able to do these well too.

How does your department/will a candidate contribute to ‘Reimagine money, Inspire Life’?

We help the business areas source suppliers and solutions which bring customers a benefit. Through our contracting we protect customer data and the security of the business systems.  We also show the business what else is on the market – so they can make sure that they are delivering best-in-class services for our customers.

What backgrounds have people in your department come from?

We have everyone from graduates in their first job to people with 20+ years’ experience. They come from a broad range of sectors too. As well Financial Services, we have people from Automotive Manufacturing, Aerospace, Retail, Services, Healthcare and the Military.


One discipline, two key purposes. Risk Operations is there to protect and support our customers. If they get into payment difficulties, we’re here to help. It’s all part of our Changing Banking for Good mantra. We’re all about finding lasting solutions that work for our customers. This makes working here extra rewarding as you can make a massive difference to someone’s life. That really matters.

Meanwhile, Service Operations focuses on making sure customers get the most from being with us. This means providing a reliable, easy and common sense service, whether it’s via our call centres or online service. We’re also responsible for producing letters, statements and cards, as well as processing all payments to and from customers' accounts

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From customer management through to acquisition and brand, we cover a host of disciplines in Marketing. Essentially, we do everything from creating products for customers to finding the best ways and means of talking to them. Our vision drives us to create the clear and compelling products which customers want. We’re also Changing Banking for Good by providing credit to those who need it and are able to afford it.

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The Legal team advises on the end to end customer journey, from developing and advertising products, acquiring customers, through to collecting payments. It also gets involved in negotiating contracts with suppliers, managing relationships with our regulators, managing consumer and commercial litigation, keeping abreast of changes to relevant laws and alerting the business to such changes, and influencing the external legal and regulatory environment.

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