Meet Kristina Casey, Business Manager of Auto Finance, at Capital One. She determines how Capital One’s Design, Product, Sales, and Marketing teams can collaborate with partner companies to bring innovation to market. In doing so, Kristina tests new designs and conducts product analysis on a daily basis. Throughout her career, Kristina has collected a few coins of wisdom that she uses to guide her professional journey.
Coin #1: Invest in Building Relationships
Although Kristina’s role at Capital One is cross-functional, there is one aspect that remains consistent. She elaborated, “Each day, my team starts with a 15-minute huddle. We discuss what needs to be accomplished, what information needs to be passed to management, and address questions.” While the morning meetings allow Kristina to prioritize her workday, she advises you to “build really strong relationships” with the individuals that make up any team you work with whether they are in your own department or in another one. By doing so, you will learn fellow employees’ expertise and “know exactly who to go to when you do not know something instead of running around forever.” This will make you an efficient worker and allow you to add more value to a company. Furthermore, when you foster relationships with coworkers you get to genuinely understand your company’s culture, which can impact your career. Kristina explained, “You can work on similar projects at any company, so it’s the people that make a difference. That’s why I’ve been at Capital One for eight years—it’s the people.” Even though your day-to-day work responsibilities will keep you busy, it is critical that you do not forget to make time for people.
Coin #2: Being Agile Is Profitable
Many of us create plans for ourselves that outline where we want to be career wise in five, 10, or even 20 years. It is helpful to use these plans as a heuristic to guide your professional development, but you should not perceive them as permanent. Kristina wants you to be open to change. Moreover, she wants you to know that people transfer colleges and change jobs, and it is fine. Straying from a plan should not put you in a tail spin. “My husband and I moved to England and intended to stay there for four years. After one year, we decided we didn’t like it and moved back,” said Kristina. Very few decisions are irreversible, so when a situation does not go as planned, be agile and pivot toward a new goal. This will transform perceived closed doors into new opportunities. Additionally, when you are adaptable you can maintain work-life balance. Kristina mentioned that she is going on vacation at the end of the month, but in order to do so she will work longer hours for a few days to make sure she finishes a big project before she leaves. By simply being flexible, you can create a career plan or schedule that works for you.
Coin #3: Intellectual Honesty Is an Asset
Kristina’s primary responsibilities are rooted in analytics, yet she received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Marketing. Although Kristina’s academic background did not directly prepare her for her current role, she succeeds because college taught her how to learn. According to Kristina, “Most companies do not hire for a particular major, but rather for a way of thinking, so in college put effort into developing how you think and how you present your thoughts.” While you should begin nurturing your thought process in college, Kristina encourages you to continue the process when you begin a new job. She specifically stated, “Don’t be afraid to speak up. Put your ideas out there. Allow yourself to receive feedback. This will show people that you’re trying, and you’re developing your thinking.” The ability to articulate ideas is significant, but it needs to be accompanied by intellectual honesty. Kristina clarified, “The most valuable team members are the ones who not only speak up, but who are straightforward. They present facts accurately and admit when they do not know something.” This honesty allows teams to pinpoint problems, find solutions, and make sustainable, impactful change. Rather than striving to appear all-knowing to your peers and manager, focus on being a truthful voice.
Coin #4: Cash in on a Personal Board of Directors
Both formal and informal mentors are extremely important at all stages of your career. Kristina has relied on mentors, but with a twist. She shared, “I haven’t had formal mentorships, but I have had a close group of friends that work at Capital One who I can vent to and talk to, and who keep me honest. Some are at the same level, some are many promotions ahead of me, and some are newer to the business. These people are my personal board of directors. They are direct and tell me when I am being unreasonable.” Having a group of people who you can go to for advice or reality checks is important for two reasons. One, you will have a support system. Two, you will grow; this group filled with diverse perspectives will encourage you to nurture your strengths and tackle challenges.
The most important coin that Kristina carries in her Wallet for Success is empathy. “Remember that people have to make mistakes to learn and that everyone is acting a certain way for a reason.” When faced with uncertainty, Kristina hopes you can utilize her coins of wisdom.