A common complaint heard in the workforce today comes from people who feel “stuck” in their careers. For Maria, a Senior Manager at Capital One, the opposite is true — and it’s a mindset she encourages others to adopt.
“The most memorable piece of career advice I’ve been given was not to be afraid to try something new, because you can always change your mind,” Maria, who once moved overseas to pursue a completely new career, said. “The skills and knowledge I acquired as a result of that move allowed me to find my subsequent career path and led me to where I am today.”
Of course, the prospect of taking risks can feel unnerving — especially if the company you work for isn’t supportive of outside-the-box thinking. In that respect, Maria feels fortunate to have landed at Capital One, ranked by FGB’ers as a 2018 Best Company for Women. In fact, one woman on Fairygodboss wrote “there’s no better place to work if you’re looking for support professionally and personally.”
Recently, Maria shared the ins and outs of what working at a supportive employer like Capital One looks like, and how one boss inspired her approach to management today.
What: Senior Manager of Product Management, Capital One
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I have been in my current role for 1.5 years, helping take our products from an idea all the way through to being in market. in my previous role, I coached product development teams in applying Design Thinking to their work and built a train-the-trainer program to scale these practices across the company.
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
I check my calendar and walk around the office to see who I can catch at their desk. If I can, I have a quick conversation to reduce the number of meetings I need to schedule. I do this at the beginning and the end of the day, and save a bunch of time spent in meetings that way.
What’s the most unique or interesting aspect of your job or company?
The most interesting aspect of my role is working directly with people from different roles and functions across the company who are all focused on improving the lives of consumers with our products and experiences.
What’s something with your work you’re especially good at?
Because I work with people from different roles and functions all across the company, I have to be able to go from a high-level strategic discussion, to diving into the weeds of a particular product or design problem, to having a discussion about how to streamline a process—all within the same day. I’ve had to get good at context switching.
What are you trying to improve?
Carving out more time to focus and think deeply about something and then reflect on it.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
I took a risk and moved overseas to pursue a career that was very different from what I had been doing previously. The skills and knowledge I acquired as a result of that move allowed me to find my subsequent career path and led me to where I am today.
What do you love most about your job or your company?
Working with really talented people from different functions and roles who are all focused on creating the best products and experiences for our customers.
What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?
“Jobs to be Done: Theory to Practice” by Tony Ulwick
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
The most memorable piece of career advice I’ve been given was not to be afraid to try something new, because you can always change your mind.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
The best boss I ever had knew when to provide guidance and when to let me figure things out for myself, and always had my back.
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