One Year with Capital One: Lessons Learned

One Year with Capital One

Today is exactly one year and ten days since I started my work as a Technology Fellow at fintech startup Capital One. Yes, I wrote before while you shouldn’t work in a startup, and I still believe in it, because Capital One is not a startup in a traditional sense. On the contrary, it’s in the top 10 US banks list as of 2016. Let me explain myself.

Capital One feels like a startup to me because it’s just 25 years old which is very little in financial industry. If you think about it, predecessor of JP Morgan Chase was founded 16 years before Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo. Similarly, Wells Fargo started 11 years before president Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address.

Capital One and Others Timeline Graph
Capital One and Others Timeline Graph

Anyway, through the past year I learned a few things:

  • How to enjoy airplanes: I spoke or represented Capital One as an attendee at 10+ conferences in addition to flying to our Washington DC-based headquarter for meetings. Planes is one of a few places where I can catch up on my Kindle reading or do some undistracted work.
  • How to be effective working remotely: All my team is on the East Coast while I am on the West Coast in San Francisco, California. Being good at communications is paramount for remote work.
  • How to work in a big company: In a big company (50K+ associates and ~6K engineers) you have different problems from when working at a startup or a medium size company. Mostly, I like that big companies you have more leverage and more room to grow while startups lack them.
  • How to contribute in an entrepreneurial enterprise during its transition to become a technology company: Things are changing fast in a positive direction considering the size of the company. The entrepreneurial spirit is everywhere from the bright people working on cutting-edge prototypes to office interior and statements from executive leadership.
  • How valuable it is to be associated with a good brand: Almost any random person to whom I mention that I work at Capital One has positive memories: “It’s my first credit card”, “They gave me my mortgage” or “You have the best savings rates!”.
  • How to be in a team of rockstars and surrounded by talented people: Although there are still a few hundred open positions at Capital One, I was positively surprised to discover that a few of my acquaintances (who are top experts) work at Capital One. Moreover, my team of Tech Fellows is a world-class team of experts; for example, a founder of Apache Foundation, a fonder of Joomla!, an O’Reilly author and many others.

This list is a short summary of my first year at Capital One. I spoke at 9 conferences, wrote 3 major blog posts for the company website and contributed to two products. The next year will be spent in the same manner: speaking at conferences, writing blog posts, and building prototypes in line with the company’s vision of bringing humanity, innovation and simplicity to banking. Onward to exciting new projects!

Author: Azat

Techies, entrepreneur, 20+ years in tech/IT/software/web development expert: NodeJS, JavaScript, MongoDB, Ruby on Rails, PHP, SQL, HTML, CSS. 500 Startups (batch Fall 2011) alumnus.

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