Presented by Capital One Canada

The culture of startups. It’s become almost an urban myth, or maybe digital dream would be a better term, since startups originated in Silicon Valley in the 1980s. You know how the story goes. Savvy young employees arrive at their workplace brimming with eagerness, imaginative ideas, and commitment. The air practically snaps with their energy.

At Capital One, providing a workplace where both atmosphere and setting encourage the spirit of innovation isn’t myth or dream. It’s reality. And from their example, other businesses can learn how to nurture that startup culture even as their company goes international.

Granted, hearing the name Capital One, most people think: A major bank and credit-card company. Capital One is that, no question.

It’s also more.

Capital One has the same rule-breaking, entrepreneurial roots as many Silicon Valley startups. The culture of startups is downright practical in today’s marketplace, where the rules have changed big-time. The business world has become uncertain and unpredictable, for reasons ranging from globalization to technological change — and consumers’ speed at absorbing that change.

Capital One has already hired over 100 talented engineers, data scientists, user-experience designers, and product managers for its agile development shop in Toronto — that’s industry-speak for a flexible, collaborative, and fast-responsive team. “We’re on a mission to attract the very best in tech talent to help us build digital solutions that simplify and humanize the world of credit cards using human-centered design” says Christina McClung, chief people officer for Capital One. “To deliver the very best to our associates and customers alike, we’re investing heavily in modern technology and are passionate about creating a culture where people feel great about what they do”.

So what are the elements that companies should cultivate when promoting an agile, startup culture? Christina McClung shares some key ones here:

1. Work-life balance

Businesses big and small must appreciate that their associates have life outside work. Accordingly, it’s important to give them: telecommuting and flexible work schedules; generous time off; and premium health benefits. Making these a priority ensures your people can be great at their jobs without sacrificing the other things that are important.

2. Open and collaborative environment

You want your culture to inspire your people to be the very best version of themselves every day! Capital One strives to be open-minded, respectful, and committed — and their setting reflects that. They have an open-concept environment and visual management tools to encourage collaboration and integrated ideation. They provide fun ideation spaces, like a barista lounge, nooks with bean-bag chairs, and even a foosball table — hey, what better way to bat ideas around?

3. Diversity and inclusion

A diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives are all integral to producing an innovative environment where everyone thrives. At Capital One, diversity isn’t just a tick-box exercise. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s ingrained in their culture. Their goal is to create the best experiences for their associates and customers, and it has to begin with an inclusive culture where every voice is heard and matters.

4. Digital innovation

Capital One is a digital company at heart. They’re passionate about helping Canadians succeed financially with the help of technology. Their software studio in Toronto boasts phenomenal growth, while at the same time always keeping that all-important startup feel.

5. Unique culture

Capital One is unique in the Canadian financial space in that they are still founder-led. For any company, it’s important that your cultural values and commitments are not lost along the way — in fact, they should keep on growing.

6. Caring for our community

When a company cares about the community they work in, employees will feel proud to be a part of that organization. An example is Capital One’s Gift the Code Hackathon event, where coders, data scientists and designers passionate about problem solving use digital for good to present solutions to digital challenges faced by six Toronto-based charities.

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