Techweek and Capital One are partnering tonight, June 20th, for a very special event – Chicago meets FinTech: A Peek Inside Capital One. The event showcases the cutting-edge innovation at Capital One alongside a lot of fun; expect virtual reality demos, a makers space, robot wars, amazing food and drinks, DJs, live music and more. We caught up with Sairam Rangachari, VP of Technology at Capital One, to learn more about him, Capital One, and the company’s commitment to tech. Read on!
1. Sai, how did you become interested in Tech and why was Capital One the ideal place for you to pursue that passion?
I grew up in India and as I pursued my engineering degree there was a natural affinity towards tech for me. With the rise of the internet at that time it really captivated me. I graduated with my masters and had the good fortune to begin my career with a startup that was transforming its industry and businesses online. For me there was no looking back. I’m constantly thinking about how tech can make something better, and how Tech can humanize the solution. On my move to Capital One, it had more to do with transformation. Capital One is leveraging technology to reimagine banking. The scale of transformation to achieve that vision is absolutely fascinating to me.
(All images courtesy of Keri Wiginton | BlueSky | Chicago Tribune)
2. How do you engage with the tech community?
I am passionate about entrepreneurship and the startup community and I continue to be an active angel investor and a Product & Technology strategy consultant for the venture capital community. I am fortunate to sit on the board of a few entities. I’ve invested in a few startups and was fortunate to be involved in those conversations. I am invited to participate in technology round table and panel discussions, as well. These conversations center around giving back and learning from the community. Networking and staying engaged with Tech leaders that are doing cool things (both big and small) keeps me going. What’s your primary objective? i.e., keeping up on the latest trends, finding interesting companies? I’m fascinated by how business can be disrupted / re-invented leveraging technology. I try to look for this in as many conversations as I can and learn from how people jump over the hurdles to make this happen.
3. How is Capital One as an enterprise involved in Chicago? Directly investing in any companies?
We host entrepreneurs and founders and connect them to our teams and leaders internally (and vice versa), creating touchpoints with our associates, giving them a stage and learning from them as they learn from us. Our partnership with TechNexus is another area of investment and collaboration for us in the community that we’re really looking forward to experimenting with. Capital One is reinventing itself and the industry. We realize that consumer behavior is changing rapidly. The Tech that is available today allows us to do amazing things. To do that we need to learn, recruit, retain and contribute to our ecosystem – everything we do is centered around these things. We are pushing for our ecosystem to continue to grow and improve. We want to attract the best people and keep them. Contributing to initiatives that promote this is what we’re looking to do here in Chicago.
4. What’s exciting about the upcoming in-office event? The most exciting thing about Tuesday night’s event is showcasing how we are re-inventing ourselves for a vision that we are passionate about. The fact that Capital One hasn’t been here in Chicago for very long, so many people don’t know what to think about us. We’re opening our doors to awesome technologists and leaders and welcoming them into our space. We’re hoping to help make Capital One fluid in the tech conversation here in Chicago. What’s the main purpose of the event and how did that impact how you designed the event? We’re being thoughtful about showcasing who we are, as well as the importance of the community / ecosystem we operate in. A lot of what we showcase is our people – projects, products and ideas driven by our teams.
5. Why partner with Techweek and how does this event fit into your strategic objectives for 2017?
We share a lot with Techweek including making the ecosystem better for the collective good. They’ve been a huge contributor to the Tech energy in Chicago and we share a lot of the same values, drive and objectives. We believe in the transformation that they’re supporting and we’re excited to be a part of it.
6. Rapid fire:
- Favorite app: Waze – they are really leveraging machine learning. It takes the second guessing out of navigation. Before, there were so many conversations about YOUR PATH. Waze answers all your questions for you. Waze has taken me on some crazy paths, but it humanizes the solution for me.
- Favorite life-hack: I wake up very early almost every single day and go workout before most people even wake up. I feel like that gives me an edge every day. High energy. I have a leg up and start my day with much more focus and energy than I would without this important step.
- One thing you look for from great businesses and startups: Conviction and Passion. So, there are a lot of cool ideas, whether you’re a big company or startup. I hear so many awesome ideas, but what differentiates them for me is how much does that person believe in that idea and have a willingness to try hard and potentially stupid things to make things happen.
- Best management advice you’ve received: Focus on reverse engineering success. Work backwards from success. If you know where you are going it’s much easier to get there but in an ever-changing world, your destination needs to get re-adjusted constantly as well. This makes it that much more interesting.
Learn more about Capital One at the amazing event tonight! See you there.