7 Feb 2019 05:12pm

As I see it: Dawn Conneely

Dawn Conneely, director of cost – UK cards finance at Capital One, on how she swapped the laboratory for a diverse career as a chartered accountant

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Caption: Photography by Rob Whitrow
I WANTED TO BE A VET as we always had a lot of pets. The experience of helping deliver a litter of golden retriever puppies made me examine the practicalities and I had a serious rethink. I studied biochemistry at Warwick then a PhD at Cambridge – I spent three years growing and smashing open cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) to extract their DNA to analyse. A lot less bloody than being a vet.

I WANTED TO MOVE INTO something more mainstream and the careers department put me in touch with PwC. I did eight weeks work experience and loved it. I felt I was constantly developing and having new experiences – something I still seek out today.

THERE ARE LOTS OF CHALLENGES when you start out. But I remember there was always lots of support – I never felt I was on my own (even if I was the only person at a client’s premises). You need to seek out those scary experiences to push yourself and realise what you can achieve.

I SPENT FOUR YEARS in retail at Next. I thought I’d give financial services a try and 16 years later I’m still here. As the level of regulatory focus has heightened, the industry has had to evolve. When the FCA took over regulation for consumer credit in 2014 it undertook a major market study into credit cards and much of the policy change from that is now in place. What I admire about Capital One, and why I joined, is we are striving to make credit simple and helping our customers succeed, which aligns with those regulatory changes.

HOW CUSTOMERS CHOOSE to use and share their data and how companies provide products that help customers make informed choices will be fascinating. Machine learning is being used within the forecasting process within the US cards business in Capital One, as is coding language such as Python to speed up the updating of models and automation of accruals within the UK cards business. We should spend less time producing reports and more time analysing – which is always the fun part.