- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Military Leadership In Action: A Q&A With John Finneran of Capital One

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Article Sponsored by: Air Force Reserve

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John Finneran is General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Capital One Financial Corporation, a diversified Fortune 200 company and one of the top ten banks in the United States based on deposits, with one of the most widely recognized brands in America. Mr. Finneran is the senior legal advisor to the Board of Directors and the senior management of Capital One. He is a key member of Capital One’s executive team with broad responsibilities and oversight over the activities of Capital One’s Corporate Reputation and Governance organization, including the Legal Department, Government Affairs, Regulatory Relations, Corporate Audit & Security Services, and Corporate Affairs. Mr. Finneran received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law School and served as an officer in the United States Navy.


To help commemorate the Most Valuable Employers (MVE) for Military® issue and Armed Forces Day, MTN caught up with Mr. Finneran and asked him for his advice for transitioning military and veterans.


Capital One has become one of the most respected financial businesses in the world. What advice would you give to a military service person transitioning into a civilian career who is also interested in entrepreneurship?


Innovation and entrepreneurial thinking have been central to Capital One’s business since day one, and they continue to drive the company forward today.


Many veterans would make great entrepreneurs. The military teaches you a kind of self-reliance, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve your goals. That sense of dedication, ambition, resilience, and leadership skills are essential, but there is a much more to learn about the practicalities of running a successful business. There are resources and support systems available to help, and I would encourage military men and women to take the time to tap into all of the tools that are at their disposal.


For example, Capital One has been able to engage with hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs through our partnership with Count Me In and our Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC), a program that helps women who have served to start and grown their own businesses. The goal of WVEC is to provide the tools, mentorship and support systems that aspiring business owners need. It has been inspiring to see the creativity and passion they’ve displayed for their work and it has been gratifying to support this important program and play a small role in helping these women veterans achieve their dreams.


Capital One has grown to be a leading bank in just 20 years. What qualities does Capital One look for in a successful candidate to help propel it forward another 20 years?


Every decision we make at Capital One is driven by our core values, from how we interact with our customers to the people we hire to work at our corporate offices and branches. We attract and hire talented individuals who are committed not only to demonstrating excellence in their particular job functions each day, but also to consistently doing the right thing for their customers and colleagues. As a company, we are also very future-focused. We are consistently challenging ourselves to innovate – offering new products, services and technologies – and we look for talented individuals who are thinking about how they can challenge themselves and continue to grow and develop at Capital One over the course of their careers. 


Capital One earned a spot on our Most Valuable Employers for Military list. Thank you for your commitment to our veterans. What does Capital One gain from veteran employees within their ranks?


As a longstanding supporter of our military, Capital One, is privileged and honored to have veterans from every branch of service as colleagues, team members and leaders throughout our company. We know from firsthand experience the value that our colleagues with military experience bring to our business.


We find that military experience gives our new “recruits” a head start and provides a tremendous personal foundation for success.


Hiring veterans makes great business sense. We know that the skills and qualities that made them outstanding assets in the military – the strong work ethic, rigorous discipline, the creativity to overcome obstacles – are precisely the kinds of qualities that can invigorate the American workforce and drive businesses forward. These are talented men and women and by providing job opportunities and investing in their success, the business community and our country have a great deal to gain.


Do you have programs for veterans once they join the Capital One team?


From the outset, our goal for all of our associates has been to hire the best people and give them the tools and support they need to be great and our military hires are no exception to that rule.


We go to great lengths to ensure that veterans and military spouses are well positioned for success within the company and have ample resources available to ease the transition into the civilian workforce. We have a talented team of associates who are dedicated to support our military colleagues. Capital One has a strong Military Network comprised of associates who are veterans, have a family member who serves, a spouse or partner who is in the military, or associates that are just interested in supporting military-related causes. The Military Network runs a series of programs within the company to provide mentorship, career guidance, encouragement, and support for a variety of veteran and military family needs. In addition, we created the Military New Hire Transition Program, which uses webinars, live instruction and one-on-one conversations to position veterans for success at Capital One. I am humbled to say that the various programs and layers of support that we offer to our veterans and those associates who continue to serve in our military have clearly made a great impact.


What advice would you offer military seeking civilian employment today?


As a Navy veteran, I know first-hand the obstacles returning veterans face as they enter the civilian job market. Looking for a job can be a daunting task for anyone, but add on to that the challenge of translating military skills and experience to a more traditional job market, writing a resume that resonates with civilian employers and a job search that is already difficult – it can seem even harder.


First and foremost, I would tell any military service member or veteran looking to join the private sector to start the process with a sense of confidence and pride. Know that the very attributes that made for a successful military career are precisely what civilian employers are looking for in their new hires. Too often, I’ve spoken to men and women who seem to undervalue and undersell the amazing skills, talents and qualities their military service has helped them acquire. Secondly, I would encourage military service members to be thoughtful about their career plans. Be open to new experiences, find an industry that really excites you, and look for an employer that values and celebrates what you bring to the table.

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