In 2022, what attracts large technical teams to physical offices?
Space for collaboration, no more rules or minimums for office workdays. It’s the bet Capital one takes with a 22,000 square foot Center City space being developed as a downtown hub for incoming tech talent.
The company is bolstering its consumer fintech offerings in the coming months with projects related to the customer’s day-to-day banking experience, and it will hire at least 100 technical staff to do so, Jay MicheliniCapital One’s chief technology officer, said Technically. An example of upcoming services includes early access to paychecks, a project the tech team is undertaking with “money movement” technology and machine learning-based fraud checks.
The strategy is to “meet them where they are” in a flexible space downtown.
The hub, coming in Q2 2023 on an entire floor of 1735 Market St., will house engineering and product talent, and two technical team executives, the vice president of product management Amanda Cronin and Vice President of Software Engineering Andrei Utis, will be based there. Michelini said the Northern Virginia-headquartered institution already views Philadelphia as a great home for tech talent, thanks to its many universities and partnerships with pipeline development organizations like Coded by kids and Technological impact.
He also already has a physical home in the Rittenhouse neighborhood, the Capital One Cafe at 135 S. 17th St., a few blocks from the Innovation Space. The cafe has long provided Capital One’s enterprise team with direct access to the day-to-day needs of its banking customers, Michelini said, and will provide the tech team with insight into daily habits, pain points and business activities. ‘an user.
“Having done prototypes and product launches there in the past, we’re thrilled to have it close by and be in touch with customers and our people who speak with customers every day,” said the director. (This philosophy recalls TD Bankwhich has just opened its own “innovation lab” to get closer to customers in the university town.)
With so many completely remote tech teams over the past two and a half years, Michelini said Capital One relied on internal company surveys that indicated a desire for in-person collaboration time. But the research also showed the company that in-person time should be less structured and more focused on group meetings and show of hands.
“It’s not a butt office,” Michelini said.
Instead, expect fewer work desks in favor of open spaces and large conference rooms for team meetings. Tech leads imagine groups of core tech teams of six or eight people meeting to work on solutions or have a team lunch. They haven’t chosen a design lead for the project yet, but they’ve been in touch with local artists to make the space feel grounded in the city it’s in, the director said.
The fintech company seeks a multitude of roles in its tech offerings, but Michelini highlighted some specific skills and attributes.
“We were the first financial institution to move to the cloud on AWS, so an AWS certification and those basic comprehensive engineering skills are important to us,” he said. “We are also increasingly looking for mobile engineers, and data and machine learning engineers are essential skills.”