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.
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.
When Dhandapani later took over as CIO of Capital One's Financial Services Division in 2010, she again found the division's IT organization needed to replace key mortgage loan systems. "Every bank we acquired came with one or more mortgage origination and point-of-sale systems. … I found that none of the systems had the ability to scale or could meet our compliance needs," she relates.
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Dhandapani had to quickly find new point-of-sale, origination and fulfillment systems, and, in consultation with the head of the home loans division, found products that satisfied their needs (she declined to name the products and partners involved).
Dhandapani and her team then went into a whirlwind of activity, managing to implement a new point-of-sale system in four months, and a new origination and fulfillment system in 12 months after that. "It was one of the fastest deployments that we've ever seen [at Capital One]," she says.
The new home loans systems enabled the bank to shut off a number of legacy point-of-sale and origination systems it had inherited from the banks it had acquired, she says. Ridding the bank of those legacy systems and implementing the new ones also laid the groundwork for Capital One's next acquisition: its purchase of ING Direct U.S. last year. "We had made a path forward in terms of the products we wanted to use, and luckily it just so happened that ING had chosen a similar path," she says.
Dhandapani was responsible for integrating ING Direct's home loans technology organization into the Capital One Financial Services Division. The bank just announced that the integration was completed in August, she says. The IT team used agile methodologies in integrating the ING Direct's core home loan platforms, breaking the projects up into smaller, more manageable increments. "We were able to complete the integration of all of our core platforms within a short 15-month period," she notes.
As if Dhandapani has not done enough work on platform integration, she says one of her key areas of focus in 2014 will be to find more ways to consolidate and simplify the bank's IT infrastructure. "We want to see how we can drive the power of one technology for one domain, so as we continue our growth aspirations for our division, we can simplify our underlying infrastructure," she explains.
Senior VP and CIO, Financial Services Division, Capital One Bank
Years in position: 1
Previous positions: Managing VP and CIO, Financial Services Division, Capital One, March 2010 - Dec. 2012; VP and CIO, Capital One Auto Finance, August 2009 - March 2010
Education: MBA, information systems, University of Texas Arlington, 1998; MBA, India (marketing and finance), 1989; BS, mathematics, India, 1987
Hobbies: She is on the board of a nonprofit that helps at-risk girls and enjoys golfing and skiing
Jonathan Camhi has been an associate editor with Bank Systems & Technology since 2012. He previously worked as a freelance journalist in New York City covering politics, health and immigration, and has a master's degree from the City University of New York's Graduate School ... View Full Bio