Meet Maureen Jules-Perez, Vice President of Technology at Capital One. Her day-to-day responsibilities include overseeing the global software and systems engineering team and working with the Human Resources team in order to help them implement initiatives using a technological perspective. Throughout her career, Maureen has collected a few coins of wisdom that she uses to guide her professional journey.
Coin #1: Develop a Wealth of Knowledge
Maureen received undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering in both power and communications. Post-graduation, she worked as a junior electrical engineer and attempted a few business ventures, and then worked for various companies, including Florida Power & Light, AOL, Global Network Navigator, and Verizon. Maureen found software and engineering roles that involved creating and designing technologies more interesting, so after a decade, she decided to go back to school to pursue a Master’s degree in information science and CIO certification. Maureen went on to explain, “I was much calmer in [grad] school and I found that I loved learning again! Getting my Master’s gave me a reboot towards learning and prepared me for the corporate world. I became genuinely curious about technology and the good it could do in the world, and built relationships based on trust, honesty, and commitment.” However, formal education is not the only way to obtain valuable knowledge. Many important lessons are learned through experiences, various forms of learnings (including failures), and the people that you surround yourself with. Knowledge gained through interaction and experience is of equal value to a formal education. Maureen elaborated, “I have learned that you don’t build a network; you build relationships in your life. At a job, you need to make introductions and build relationships to be successful for yourself and overall team. If you want to improve a skill or build confidence, seek help via mentoring or coaching — usually it’s free or take someone out for coffee. You simply can’t do things alone. And what fun is that?! Getting to know a person or different backgrounds, learning about the business with an owner’s mindset, sharing failures and successes, as well as solving a particular problem together, IS part of the journey.”
Coin #2: Accepting a Loan
Reflecting back on her first day at Capital One, Maureen vividly recalls, “I was now part of the Capital One family. I was not in interview mode anymore. I got the job, so I did not need to hold back. Although I loved clarity, focus, and challenges, I’d just entered a job where I did not know everything. This meant I had to rely on a great support network, including my manager, team, stakeholders, and partners.” When you begin a new job, you are not expected to know exactly how everything works, but oftentimes people feel that the opposite is true and try to add value immediately. Maureen stated, “It is okay to be dependent on your co-workers for the first few months. It can be difficult stepping into a new leadership position and admitting that you do not know everything. By allowing your co-workers and other leaders to help you through that initial learning curve, you build great relationships and ultimately set yourself and your entire team up for success. This is a new phase in your career with lots of optimism and learning opportunities. Embrace that onboarding experience and initial support, but take note on how you can add value in the future. For example, I’m very passionate about the associates’ experience, so I tracked my own onboarding to enhance Capital One’s future processes and technology.” Be bold and add value with intent towards solving the common problems.
Coin #3: Embrace Your Quirks to Capitalize on Success
Everyone has a collection of experiences and knowledge that makes them unique. Maureen believes that being authentic, passionate, transparent, and forward learning is a best practice that leads to a fruitful career. She mentioned, “I learned that as a leader it is okay to be strong and vulnerable at the same time. No one is perfect. I also appreciate the unsung heroes—the quiet, introverted people — who thrive for personal mastery or building their craft. As a leader, it’s important that we create a safe space for all. And being an introvert myself, I can be verbal, social, and friendly without having to be over the top or too reserved. Just be yourself at work and adapt to the culture, but do not change who you are. Lastly, it is important to recognize that there is not one type of leader and you may need to embrace different leadership styles throughout the course of your professional pursuits.”
Coin #4: Living Intentionally Counts
According to Maureen, living life intentionally is the best way to live. During the interview, she explained, “I email myself a letter of intent every day. This consists of three things that will bring me joy or make me feel accomplished.” She went on to further describe how she invests in herself in order to maximize life’s opportunities. Maureen likes spending free time with her family and friends, traveling to non-traditional places, reading various books, using social media, and volunteering in diverse and/or technology endeavors. The most important part of living intentionally includes deciding what is important to you. For Maureen that means making time for the people she loves and admires. Maureen’s motivation in life is to make her mother, Paula Jules – an immigrant, single mom who came via Ellis Island and raised 5 children – proud of her achievements and to continuously exceed her expectations. Maureen also keeps a picture of her 9-year son, Zen, and love notes from her husband, Juan Carlos, in her wallet as a way to keep them with her wherever she goes. Time is precious and not guaranteed, so enjoy life with those you love as much as possible. Whenever life or work gets intense, Maureen asks herself, “Will I remember this on my deathbed?” She smiles knowing that it usually will not so it’s not worth the unnecessary worry or wasted energy.
The most important coin that Maureen carries in her Wallet for Success is the phrase “Do the right thing (always) for yourself.” Maureen says that this is the best piece of advice she has ever been given. She hopes this phrase inspires all of us to trust ourselves to be direct, honest, and real. When we are faced with uncertainty or discomfort, Maureen hopes all of us can utilize her coins of wisdom.