SECON's software engineering conference inspires growth

Capital One’s custom platform for peer learning connects associates, despite their distance

In the early days of 2020, before Capital One associates shifted to a work-from-home model due to COVID-19, a team of project managers, communicators, and leaders in the technology department sat around a conference table planning Capital One’s sixth annual Software Engineering Conference (SECON). SECON, Capital One’s largest internal conference, is designed to create community and inspire tech associates, while allowing them to share knowledge and grow their skills through a network of their peers. 

Much like in previous years, discussions ranged from catering options to which keynote speakers could grace SECON’s main stage. The thought of having to host Capital One’s approximately 11,000 technologists virtually was a worst-case scenario.

An app born out of necessity

Then in March of 2020, when associates received the news that they’d be working remotely for the foreseeable future, the SECON planning team did what Capital One associates do best. Innovate. 

A team of developers, UX designers and researchers began working diligently in the months leading up to September’s now digital-first event to create an app that would be groundbreaking from a conference-hosting perspective, yet surprisingly familiar for an attendee. The custom solution, developed entirely by Capital One software engineers, was designed to meet the needs of our associates in ways that external products could not. 

The platform, which has since been released for use by the entire company, provides associates with an integrated way to watch on-demand content, connect with one another, and access content at their convenience. By all standards and metrics, SECON 2020 was the most successful event in its six year history, and created a strong foundation to build SECON 2021.

After the success of SECON 2020, we knew it was important to build a platform that would allow any Capital One associate to create and deploy their own virtual conference website. We’ve made it simple and easy to design your virtual conference and then with a simple click of a button your site is deployed to AWS in a serverless environment for everyone to see!-Mike Fischer, Senior Manager, Software Engineering
A screenshot of SECON’s interactive conference map

The app’s interactive conference floor allows associates to quickly access learning tracks, on-demand content, and the schedule of events.

Creating a community, despite our distance

SECON, at its core, demonstrates our Tech associates’ dedication to knowledge sharing, career advancement, and professional development. Hundreds of submissions come in every year from Tech associates - many of whom have presented at past SECONs - who are eager to educate their peers on topics related to Data, Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Software Engineering, and Cyber Security. This intrinsic drive and desire to be educators and students of technology helps to make SECON a success year after year. 

Now in its seventh year (second virtually), SECON continues to create a close-knit community of skilled technologists who are excited to connect with their leaders and peers, despite their distance.

The energy of our in-person SECON events was amazing - wading through crowds to get to presentations, watching keynotes live on stage - I was concerned we'd lose that excitement after going virtual. That hasn't been the case. Instead, we've massively expanded both the reach of the event and the sense of engagement that it drives within our engineering community.-Christine Hales, VP, Technology

This year’s event, which ran September 13-15, drew in thousands of Technology associates who had the opportunity to watch over 100 peer-lead, educational sessions, participate in three tech-related trivia sessions, and hear from leaders both inside and outside of Capital One during three keynote sessions.

During SECON’s final keynote address, associates got a unique opportunity to hear from two members of Capital One’s Board of Directors: Ime Archibong, Head of New Product Experimentation at Facebook, and François Locoh-Donou, CEO & Director of F5 Networks. As members of the Board of Directors and as leaders of Tech within their own companies, they shared unique perspectives on how our tech transformation is positioning us to disrupt the status quo and change the banking experience.

The capabilities in Capital One’s infrastructure are remarkable and open up new possibilities for customers. You can leverage all of this to change banking for good.-François Locoh-Donou, CEO & Director of F5 Networks

Leading the way

SECON is the culmination of countless hours of hard work, preparation, and research, and demonstrates Capital One associates’ dedication to continued learning and improvement. These associates have a drive and desire to be both educators and students of technology, and it’s a big part of why Capital One leads the way in both banking and technical innovation.

When I joined the Board of Directors, I found Capital One to be a tech company at its core. So much of what is going to enable Capital One to be successful over the course of this next decade is deep in the company’s DNA: the mission is there, the vision is there. You’ve already made the big investments and bet on the technology, and Capital One’s ability to be nimble is going to be a strategic advantage.-Ime Archibong, Head of New Product Experimentation at Facebook

Are you interested in experiencing SECON for yourself? Check out opportunities to join Capital One’s growing team of tech talent at

Matt Sheehan, Principal Communications Associate

Matt Sheehan has worked in tech for the last decade, and has specialized in technical communications since 2016. Matt enjoys cheering on the Washington Capitals and Nationals, and is pursuing his master’s degree in communications.

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