Last year Rob Harding delivered a significant milestone for CapitalOne by deploying its first services to the public cloud. It was the start of a cloud-first approach to product development that has accompanied significant investments in workforce technology. With this particular business operating at the intersection of financial services and technology, getting the foundations right is essential to building a runway for innovation, and that’s what the CIO has done to help make the customer experience real-time, digital-first and secure.

Job title
Chief Information Officer

Company name
CapitalOne (Europe) plc

How are you influencing the products, customer experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
Technology plays a central role in helping our customers succeed. Our business operates at the intersection of financial services and technology, and getting the foundations right is absolutely essential to provide a runway for innovation. I work with the executive team to ensure we are putting the right platforms and teams in place to support a real-time, digital-first and secure experience for our customers.

Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the last 12 months and their impact on your organisation’s performance
There were several key outcomes in 2016 that I’m proud of:

  • Our QuickCheck product played an important part in our growth story as we extended our channels through a number of partners via our QuickCheck API.
  • We deployed our first services to public cloud, which represented a significant milestone for us and the start of our cloud-first approach to product development.
  • We built a new composition platform that allowed us to improve how we communicate with our customers.
  • We migrated the interfaces that supply our credit card underwriting processes with data between credit bureau, allowing us to improve the performance and efficiency of our underwriting.
  • We made significant investments in workforce technology – everything from migration to Office365 – through an enhanced choice of devices that improved collaboration across teams.
  • The team dealt with a move into temporary offices in London as our product teams expanded. This move was as precursor to us taking up residence on two floors of the White Collar Factory in Shoreditch.

What has been your involvement with innovation at your organisation – in particular, with products, business model and technology – over the last 12 months?
As a business we are operating at the intersection of financial services and technology, so I’m involved in all facets of innovation, from the technology platform through to the customer experience.

How have you delivered cultural and behavioural change as a CIO, within the IT department, and/or more broadly across the organisation?
The technology team was the epicentre for our adoption of agile methodologies. All our product teams now use some form of agile approach. This has extended beyond software engineering into our operations, HR and finance teams, with the ultimate goal of creating a more nimble business.

Last year the technology team helped orchestrate our GrowthLabs work with a number of startups.

How have you worked with your CEO and/or board to communicate whatever ‘digital’ and IT means to your organisation/sector and improve digital literacy at the highest levels of the organisation?
I’m fortunate to work with an incredibly digitally-savvy executive team, so I’m equal parts student and teacher.

I enjoy strategic planning, so I’ve also been tracking our foundation investments and the assumptions around how these individual investments connect into a bigger whole over the next few years.

How have you worked with the technology and IT vendor market to achieve your business goals? How have you been able to influence IT suppliers and successfully manage your partnerships/relationships with large IT companies, SMEs and startups?
Our third parties are an important part of our extended technology team. For me the key to success is for both parties to understand what the other wants from the relationship.

This year we had a successful partnership with LMarks on an initiative called CapitalOne Growth Labs. We partnered with a range of startups on some evolving business opportunities.

How have you tried to develop the diversity of your team?
The technology team participates in the diversity and inclusion programmes for our UK business and enterprise technology teams.

The Women In Tech initiative has been successful in raising awareness of wider industry challenges around gender diversity and inspiring action within team at all levels.

Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
I organise the technology team across the following seven towers: software engineering, technology operations, supplier management, technical programme management, project management office/finance, agile coaching/change management, information security/risk management.

We achieve input, integration and alignment through the adoption of innovative tech-type working methods that roll out across the business.

What strategic technology deals have you made in the last year and who are your main suppliers and IT partners?
We recently announced a strategic deal with Amazon Web Services as our predominant cloud infrastructure provider. This is an important part of our cloud-first approach.

What are your key strategic aims for next year?
Our aims continue to include resiliency and growth, and winning at the intersection of financial services and technology by continuing to create great products and effortless experiences.

How are you preparing for any impacts Brexit might have on your organisation?
As a business we monitor all of the external environment closely, and respond accordingly.

When did you start your current role?

What is your reporting line?
Head of international and small business

Are you a member of the executive leadership?

Are you a member of the board of directors?

What other emerging roles does your organisation have and what is their relationship to you?

How often do you meet with your organisation’s CEO or equivalent?
Daily ‘stand-up’ meetings and weekly 1:1 catch-up.

How many people at your organisation does your function supply services to?
Over 2,000

IT budget

What is your annual IT budget, or your spend as a proportion of the organisation’s revenue?
Around 15% of revenue

Rank the following sources of advice/information in order of importance:

  1. Analyst houses
  2. CIO peers
  3. Media
  4. Industry bodies
  5. Consultants

IT security

Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?

Are you expecting an increase in budget specific to security in order to tackle the cyber threat?

Does your organisation have a designated security professional – CISO or otherwise – and what is their relationship to you?
Yes, we have a UK head of information security and risk management who forms part of my technology leadership team.

Capital One IT department

Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?

Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?

How many employees are there in your IT team?
Around 290 and rising

Are you increasing your headcount or planning to bring skills and the ability to react to needs in-house?

Which technologies or areas are you expecting to be investing in over the next year?

  • cloud
  • data analytics/business intelligence
  • security
  • machine learning/artificial intelligence
  • social
  • devices (mobile)
  • networking/communications.

Which technologies or areas are you expecting to be investing in over the next one to three years?

  • cloud
  • data analytics/business intelligence
  • security
  • machine learning/artificial intelligence
  • social
  • devices (mobile)
  • networking/communications.

What emerging technologies are you investigating or expect to have a big impact on your sector or organisation?
Any technology that extends the power of data and analytics to help customers is of interest.

The EU

Does your organisation do a significant amount of trade with the EU?

Does your department include technology staff from the EU?

Are you or have you been looking to the EU to recruit key skills?