As technology advances, it’s even changing the way we use and save money. With the increased use of digital currencies and online transactions, it makes sense that financial institutions would leverage these advancements to support their business and their customer base. Capital One is a major tech innovator positioning itself as a leader in the financial industry.

Maureen Jules-Perez, Managing VP and Head of People Tech, is dedicated to building both high-performing tech teams and an inclusive culture at Capital One that supports its associates, customers and community. She’s responsible for leading the technology team that’s supporting Capital One’s associate experiences with human resources, enterprise safety and security, brand, design, legal, mergers and acquisitions and corporate strategy — not to mention workspaces and remote work capabilities, which are a critical component to culture as companies continue to navigate the ambiguity of the pandemic.

The road to success for Jules-Perez was not easy. Still, her positive outlook, professional and academic background — alongside her personal experience and values — made it possible for her to be a game-changer in the field and an invaluable asset to the Capital One team.

From Then to Now

The daughter of a hard-working, single immigrant mom, Paula Jules (who was a nurse and entrepreneur), Maureen is no stranger to the grind or sacrifice. Her love and passion for technology started at Miami Edison Middle School, where a physics teacher, Mr. Joseph Maley, exposed her to engineering and tech careers. During this stage in life, Jules-Perez created makeshift toys and used her intellect to break down home electronics and put them back together (sometimes successfully). Though she was not consistently successful in her young endeavors, her curiosity for how things worked and quest to solve problems would prove beneficial to her future. Building on this innovative spirit from her childhood, she would also go on to develop several startup ideas with her eventual husband, Juan Carlos Perez, who also sparked her entrepreneurial spirit and determination. 

“[Mr. Maley’s] belief in my potential set off my engineering trajectory. Additional mentors and champions (aka “angels”) helped me build confidence and propelled me to take risks, research, grow, navigate, voice my ideas and ultimately succeed in tech,” Jules-Perez explains.

Early in her tech career, she pivoted from electrical engineering to software engineering and ultimately to building and managing large-scale platforms and global tech teams in the Americas, Europe, Israel, Singapore, Japan and India. Prior to Capital One, she led global teams in IT strategy and digital transformation and found her real passion: being a maker of great enterprise experiences. Once she could use tech as a mechanism to empower people and shift culture, she knew this was the inspiring lane she wanted to be in. Her mantra is “Use tech for good,” and this is the bedrock for her work at Capital One.

“I didn’t only want to build and manage tech all day. I wanted to focus on the people and the culture where tech was an enabler and helped improve productivity, culture and leadership. I declared day zero: ‘We will be an inclusive and diverse team,’” Jules-Perez says. “Results have proven that we are an innovative tech and heart-led culture as well. If you spend time building trust by understanding the diverse needs of your associates, you create a place where there is psychological safety and teams will naturally become high performing. With psychological safety, there is room to take risks and teams will be able to unleash their super powers towards any challenge, problem and opportunity.”

Flexibility Is Leading the Way

In partnership with HR, Workplace Solutions and other key corporate departments, Jules-Perez leads the tech team responsible for Capital One’s workplace capabilities. A significant part of this is ensuring that associates have positive experiences and reducing any inefficiency that can hinder their progress. Partnering to build a  flexible hybrid environment and supporting services is both a tech challenge and an honor.

Although the pandemic amplified the need for flexible work, Capital One already had a solid foundation for this environment because of its successful multi-year public cloud journey. So when the pandemic hit, Jules-Perez’s team was able to support the workforce’s transition and enterprise services to being virtual. Being “all in” on the cloud has given Capital One the flexibility to do things that wouldn’t have been possible even five years ago. Because of this innovative approach, Jules-Perez’s team successfully pivots through how it equips associates with remote work and supports HR needs, like solutions to power scheduling and conducting candidate interviews in a virtual environment.

As everyone tries to navigate the pandemic, Capital One stays ahead of the game by supporting its associates and curating a culture that enables this ongoing evolution.

“We are more adaptive and flexible — more collaborative, even, because location isn’t a barrier anymore. We can all be in the same virtual room at the same time. We are more forgiving. It’s a ‘come as you are’ situation now. There’s a rawness and humanity that’s baked into working remotely — with kids, pets, and partners becoming part of our daily work-life reality,” Jules-Perez explains.

Part of developing this culture was creating a Hybrid Workplace Model, meaning that a significant majority of associates will spend some of their time working in the office and some of their time working virtually. This decision was made to afford Capital One associates and leaders the ability to better balance in-person collaboration and team needs with individual choice and flexibility. 

A Culture of Inclusivity

Jules-Perez is the Accountable Executive for Capital One’s Blacks In Tech employee resource group, and her strategic pillars are the 3 R’s: representation, retention and rising through the ranks.

“I’m looking to align our work around the three R’s. Representation is where we make sure we have diversity in talent and thought. Retention focuses on the entire associate journey, from the beginning of their careers to truly honing their talents through development, workshops, rewards and recognition. Rise means allowing our associates to advance, not just through the promotion process but stepping up in different ways to contribute to the greater tech industry, their communities or cultures,” she describes.

Jules-Perez specifically uses her platform as a senior leader to inspire others and make sure she’s seen and heard as a Black woman in tech. Leveraging her leadership platform also means helping curate a work culture where that perspective is embedded in the work of leaders. “Diversity, inclusion and belonging is something we should all be solving together,” she says.

For Capital One, innovation and diversity go hand in hand, with the Blacks in Tech (BIT) group being just one of the programming opportunities to amplify diversity, inclusion and belonging. Launched in 2017, there are six BIT chapters across various locations. As the predecessor to the Women in Tech group, BIT provides a space for Black associates to cultivate a strong community and offers development opportunities for the associates’ career trajectories. With a significant focus on retention, BIT has launched several subsidiary groups to provide a holistic approach to support. These groups include the BIT Rise Up Mentorship Program, BIT Summit and Leaders of Color — a new program designed to propel mid-level leaders to senior positions in technology.

To the Future and Beyond

Jules-Perez has garnered much success, and her career journey is far from over. As a self-proclaimed “maker of great experiences,” she encourages everyone to share ideas and champion innovation. Already an inventor, she walks the talk and is currently working on new patent-pending technology ideas.

 “Always be curious, experiment and keep a growth mindset. Have a Renaissance-inspired spirit. I am inspired by the genius artist Leonardo DaVinci. He always experimented with different mediums. I also love the TV character MacGyver, who teaches improvisation, creativity and belief in one’s capabilities to solve a problem with determination. We are multi-talented and shouldn’t limit ourselves to one thing. Own all of it!” Jules-Perez encourages. 

For those areas where solutions and ideas proliferate more than desired, Jules-Perez suggests learning more about the “why” of Shadow IT or separate, unique solutions — usually it’s to fill in a critical gap or address a preference — and participating customer feedback sessions and cross-team hackathons, where ideas can come from anyone. Each engagement promotes new ideas and collaboration, which can lead to a novel and useful solution. 

Through her inspired work to see people succeed and her passion for innovation in technology, Jules-Perez is making her mark in the industry at Capital One. Her experience at Capital One has been positive and inclusive, and allows her to embrace living in her authenticity as she consciously navigates a progressing world where there’s still so much work to do.

To learn more about Capital One and its work to build a more inclusive culture, click here.

This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Capital One.