October 01, 2013

As the divisional CIO of Capital One's auto finance division, and later its financial services division, Chandra Dhandapani has helped lead a number of integrations and initiatives that have facilitated growth in Capital One's retail loan operations over the past several years.

Since Dhandapani joined in 1998, Capital One has grown its retail lending operations rapidly through a number of acquisitions, and Dhandapani has seen her responsibilities and role expand in stride with that growth. "Before we knew it, we were transforming from $300 million in annual lending originations to $6 billion and then $13 billion," she recalls.

Those acquisitions have brought on a number of challenges for Dhandapani to address as she built an IT infrastructure for the bank that could handle the business's increasing needs while being able to scale for future growth.

When Dhandapani took over the role in the auto finance division in 2009, the division's IT systems were experiencing stability challenges with a higher-than-acceptable volume of high severity incidents, she says. "I didn't realize [when I took on the role] we were having a high-severity systems-availability incident every day. Systems would break during the day, and then there would be people on my team who would be working all night to make sure that the systems would be up and running the next day," she explains.

Dhandapani and her team started by putting measures in place to track the bank's internal data behind those systems failures and come up with a plan.

Aim High

After gathering and analyzing the necessary data, Dhandapani challenged her team with a lofty goal. "When I first told the team that we were going to aim to reduce incidents by 90%, everybody almost fell out of their chair," she adds with a laugh.

To do so, Dhandapani and her team found that they had to replace some of their systems' components and make significant architectural changes in the underwriting and fulfillment system. "Our bread-and-butter underwriting system had design flaws in its architecture, and we needed to address this with urgency," Dhandapani says, declining to name the vendor of the solution. By replacing system components and bringing in additional technical talent for support, the group managed to reach Dhandapani's goal of a 90% reduction in systems outages.