Ep 14: Kim Snipes: Balancing Many Hats

Diva Tech Talk recently had the pleasure of chatting with Kimberly Snipes, Vice President of Consumer Products and Operations Technology for Capital One Financial Corporation. Kim is the technology executive for the Core Deposit and Deposit Operations technology platforms for Capital One’s Retail and Direct Bank. Her team is responsible for all of the fraud, compliance, item processing, reporting and core processing platforms.  In her role, she manages approximately 700 colleagues across 5 locations. Kim is also on the advisory board of Women Who Code, a global non-profit 501(c) 3 organization, inspiring women to excel in careers in technology. 

“Wearing many hats” is how Kim describes her early and entrepreneurial career.  After receiving her undergraduate degree in Computer Business at Furman University (“I was one of only 3 women in the program!”), she immediately moved into a technology consulting business, founded by her father.  “It was really energizing” to Kim, since she had the chance to undertake many roles from technical training to production training to telephone support to quality. She says “I quickly saw that having these different perspectives gave me an appreciation for what it takes to innovate, come up with a product, develop it, and actually deploy and sustain it.” 

She credits both her parents for her success, saying “My Mom also always made my sister and I feel that nothing is impossible.”

Moving into a larger corporation, Kim also went back to school in the evening to get an MBA, at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. Her belief is that being “a deep technologist who can actually speak to a business problem is ten-fold more valuable” to any industry.  In developing her career, Kim says “I was open to leading any type of technology team.”  She characterizes herself as both valuing deep competence in a role, and staying open to moving forward. “If I get too comfortable in a role, my mantra is ‘it’s time to change’.”

Speaking about her current leadership role at Capital One, Kim focuses on “hiring great people who can advance the technology strategy,” setting a vision, and inspiring her widely-dispersed team. “Motivate the team you have to want to come to work every day, to want to embrace the strategy, to push it forward,” she says.  To that end she tries to meet, frequently, with everyone on her team either in person or using the newest video-to-video technology to engage in discussions.

Now the recent mother of a 1 year old girl, Kim has been seeking additional balance in her life.  “Before I had my little girl, I was very career-focused,” she says. “The minute I released myself from trying to be who I was before I was a mom, my life got so much better. I’ve gotten comfortable in my own skin now.  I still work very hard, but at the same time, my child sees me every night, if possible.”   As women, Kim truly believes that “our biggest challenge is ourselves” when achieving balance.  “We have to give ourselves a break.”

A key piece of career trajectory advice that Kim shares with other women is that people need to know who you are. “Show what you can do in a very genuine and authentic way,” she counsels. “You also need to engage in other activities, or special projects” as part of your personal “brand-building.”  

Along those lines, Kim got involved first with the internal Capital One “Women In Tech” initiative and then Capital One became a founding sponsor of the international Women Who Code.  Kim became part of their advisory board, when she returned from her maternity leave.  “We wanted to find a great partner, who would be championing the cause” of gender disparity in the technology field, she says. “You can reinvent yourself with technology,” Kim states. “We wanted an organization who felt the same way we did…bringing women in, at any stage of their careers, but also supporting them, and championing them through promotion of their careers. Women Who Code is that.”  She is looking forward to her continuous participation with that nonprofit.  “Going forward, we’re really going to ‘amp it up’ next year,” Kim says.  To that end, she is looking for ways “where we really can engage in a very meaningful way,” to promote and support women in technology.

“Women need to support women more than we do,” Kim says. “What a powerful thing if we were really supporting each other, and paying it forward.” Her advice is “Make time to support people, either internally in your company or externally.”

“You learn how to be resilient,” in the course of your career, according to Kim, who advocates for learning to adjust to change. “You’re never going to have that perfect job in every situation,” she says. “That’s when having a support system will get your through hard times.  Never forget what gets you up in the morning, drives you every day to be here.  Don’t give up on the field just because one environment may not have been the best environment.”

Capital One can be viewed here: www.capitalone.com

Women Who Code can be reached here: https://www.womenwhocode.com/

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