The time is now to bring more diverse ideas, perspectives and experiences to the technology we use. As technology becomes an even more fundamental part of financial information and access, Capital One is taking diversity and inclusion to the next level with its Make Today campaign. The campaign encourages Black technologists to contribute to innovation, prioritize data and pay homage to our past to create a more inclusive industry.
AfroTech spoke with Capital One’s Vice President of Software Engineering, Kimberly Hall, about her path to Capital One and the importance of Make Today’s call to action for more Black technologists to pave a better path towards the future of technology.
AfroTech: Tell me about your education and career background, what was your journey before joining Capital One?
Hall: I attended Hampton University, starting off as an electrical engineering major because I always wanted to learn how things were made from the inside. But when I lost my interest in engineering, I found a spark of interest for computer science and ultimately graduated with a computer science degree before starting my first job as a consultant at Accenture.
At Accenture, I helped create technology solutions for primarily government clients. One interesting thing about starting in consulting was that it really helped shape the way I think today. You have to come up to speed quickly with a problem, build relationships and understand how to deal with people who might be resisting change to an organization. After consulting for almost eight years, I worked for Fannie Mae, which introduced me to financial services, then went on to spend the next 10 years creating technology solutions for government institutions, including the IRS, SEC and Federal Reserve Bank of New York, before joining Capital One.
AfroTech: What attracted you to Capital One as an employer?
Hall: So that’s interesting because I wasn’t looking. I was happy with what I was doing at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, but Capital One reached out and I was interested in the role. I had friends who worked at Capital One, some still do, and I got their “off the record” experience, which was so important. The interview process was so thorough. I think I spoke to 10 different people in the process, but each person I talked to made me more interested in working for Capital One.
Two things in particular stood out to me. First, Capital One has hands down been the most modernized tech company I’ve worked at. When I worked for the government or quasi-government, there were pockets of innovation, but it was limited. Second, every single person I interviewed with brought up diversity and inclusion, even when only two interviewers were from underrepresented communities. That really left a positive impression.
AfroTech: How does Capital One hire and retain diverse talent?
Hall: We have councils and committees to look at data to find opportunities to be more inclusive. Our Business Resource Groups (BRGs) have three pillars: represent, rise and retain. Represent is about how we show up in the community and how we get the word out about what we do. Many groups will focus on community outreach to specifically work with institutions like HBCUs. Rise speaks to supporting the careers of [diverse talent we have hired]. Each pillar has associates at varying levels because your perspective will be different depending on where you are in the company. These are just a couple of examples of how Capital One hires and retains diverse talent.
The Blacks in Tech (BIT) BRG is committed to cultivating, inspiring, educating, and supporting Black technologists at all stages of their career. Our goal is to create an impact, and it is imperative that we amplify BIT initiatives, engage our peers to strengthen our inclusive culture and help our organization recruit, attract and retain top talent from all backgrounds.
Annually, BIT brings together over 950 Black tech and associates and allies to the BIT Summit, where attendees have a chance to connect with one another, hear from our executive and industry experts.
AfroTech: Speaking of diversity and Capital One’s values, what is Make Today? Can you share more about this campaign initiative?
Hall: For the 2022 Blacks in Tech summit, I served as the executive lead. I wanted to come up with a theme that would be centered around a call to action. What can we do for ourselves and within our community to pour into ourselves? It’s two-fold, we know there’s a need for systemic policy and legislative changes that we need to continue to advocate for, but what are the internal [changes] we can make within ourselves. Today is actually an acronym: Tech, Obligation, Data, Acknowledge,Yesterday.
- Tech – Taking steps to impact the tech industry and take your career to the next level
- Obligation – Responsibility to the community and taking care of ourselves
- Data – Digging into the facts, information, and analytics at our fingertips
- Acknowledge – Recognizing our own value and identifying ways to elevate ourselves, each other, and the work that we do
- Yesterday – Looking at our legacy and identifying what those building blocks have allowed us to accomplish today
AfroTech: We were so excited about the campaign being featured at AfroTech in Austin this past November. How did you encourage Black technologists to get involved?
Hall: We were excited too. We were a proud sponsor of the AfroTech conference and we had a booth in the expo hall floor that featured technologists from Capital One. I encouraged people to do their homework, ask questions about the company and get a vibe for the culture of Capital One. I suggest to continue to research open positions we have, and hopefully they’ll be of interest. Make Today is as simple as doing the work, which means anyone can take action and we loved bringing that energy to AfroTech.
Learn more about Capital One’s Make Today initiative and join the movement by exploring careers with Capital One.
This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Capital One.