A big thank you to Capital One for hosting me in Houston, TX for the Grace Hopper Celebrating of Women in Computing 2015 and making this experience possible!
I had the pleasure of meeting Chandra and interviewing her in person at Grace Hopper 2015. She has an amazing insight and career that are a part of improving the human experience through technology at Capital One which is what I'm passionate about and so excited to share.
Chandra Dhandapani has spent more than 17 years at Capital One, primarily in technology, but, out of those, she also spent 5 years in non-tech roles where she became responsible for direct-to-consumer business, running P&L (profit and loss) and customer servicing in the Auto Finance division. Her career began as a technical writer where she found herself gravitating towards solving problems with technology. When she joined Capital One’s Auto Finance division, it was a small auto finance company without as many robust systems and many manual processes. As Capital One expanded by buying other banks, they also moved into the mortgage business. Today, Capital One’s Financial Services division is comprised two lines of business: Auto Finance and Home Loans.
Chandra was asked to take on the responsibility of putting together mortgage infrastructure capabilities and helped bring together multiple systems. She then became CIO of Auto Finance and eventually the division. She has been able to grow her career within Capital One thanks to mentorship and company culture which has allowed her to grow her skills within the company.
On Diversity in Technology
"I think of diversity on a number of different dimensions: its diversity of thought, diversity of ideas. You often hear companies like ours say our customers are very diverse, the communities we live and work in are very diverse, so we can’t be one size fits all. We have to have diversity of thought for us to be successful. Within the company that I work in, I look at all types of diversity in terms of skill sets, diversity in terms of functional skills. You have product managers, you have designers, you have software engineers, data scientists. "
On Fast Data Infrastructure
"I love data. The way I think about data is that it’s a means to an end. My goal is that any point in time we bring the power of all possible data to make life easier for customers. For example, with fast data we have our sales teams working with auto dealerships or agents who work with customers. Typically in banks you have reports where you will see tomorrow what you’ve done today. What we’re doing with that infrastructure ̶ imagine the power of near real-time ̶ being able to stream that data, relevant data to the people who need it, being refreshed multiple times a day, and the power of timely information so they can provide a better experience and make better decisions."
On Technology Innovation
"I feel we have made some awesome progress, but there’s so much more we need to do and can do. I’m a big believer in any technology that respects our time and saves our time as human beings. That’s the most important thing in our lives, having enough time to do the things we want to do."
#1 Piece of Advice to Women Pursing Careers in Technology
"Stay with it! Technology is already changing our worlds, and our lives are very different today from 10 years ago and I believe it will be different 5 years from now. I also feel like tech is much more ubiquitous in every business. So everyone who is fortunate to be in technology today, I would love for them to stay with it and make great things happen."
Photo Credit: #WOCinTechChat
Editor's Note: As of 2016, Chandra is no longer at Capital One.