Rob Alexander has been been the CIO of Capital one for roughly half of his 18 years with the company. He had a non-traditional path to the role. He studied physics as an undergraduate at Harvard, spent time in the Air Force, received an MBA from Harvard Business School, and spent roughly five and a half years as a consultant at Bain & Company. He joined Capital One in 1998, and would assume responsibility for a number of Capital One's lending businesses, including the U.S. consumer credit card and installment loan businesses.


This breadth of experiences have been an advantage to Alexander in his role as CIO. He recognizes the need for IT to be a source of speed for the enterprise. As such, he has introduced agile methods and DevOps to the IT function. He personifies the value enterprises get at the intersection of disciplines, and he has had a hand in evolving the workplace of the future across Capital One's offices, fostering innovative thinking and co-creation. He is one of the architects of IT's ascent to become a digital leader in financial services. We covered all of the above and more in a recent conversation, the highlights of which are below.

Peter High: Next year you will celebrate your 10th anniversary as CIO. Given the pace of change in technology, and the need for departments to constantly re-invent themselves, how have you managed this change across the past decade?


Rob Alexander: Great question. I will say it has been an amazing journey, both over the full 18 years that I have been with Capital One – many of those years working in our lines of business – and then taking on the CIO role in mid-2007. Considering how much our company has changed, how much our technology organization has changed, and how much the world of technology outside has changed, it has been quite a ride. I never feel like one year to the next I'm getting stale, or that my job is the same because it is not.

When I took on the CIO role in 2007, we were on the cusp of a real change in what is going on in the world of banking, our strategy as a company, and what we needed to do in our technology organization. In those early years of my tenure, we worked on acquisitions and integrating banks that we had purchased. We rationalized infrastructure across these acquired entities, and pulled off some big projects. We developed competencies as an organization around great delivery of big, complex projects. Our acquisition of ING Direct positioned us as a leading digital bank in 2011. Around 2010, we concluded that we did not have the right model for the future. It was this recognition that digital banking was going to be important for the future, and it requires a different technology organization, a different delivery pattern, a different way of doing business to succeed.