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Italian Major Turned Senior Capacity Planner.

Name: Sheldon P.
Job Title: Senior Capacity Planner, Workforce Management

Far from traditional

My educational background is a bit far from what you’d typically find in the Financial Tech industry. I have an undergraduate degree in Italian language and a Master’s in Public Administration. I’d originally intended on working in the non-profit sector and one day saving the world. However, I joined Discover during the great recession. I’d just graduated with my undergraduate degree and weirdly enough, the job market was even worse for Italian majors than other undergraduates (who would’ve thought?). Discover was the first place that would hire me.

Now, looking back, Discover has afforded me greater opportunities than I would have ever expected leaving college with a degree in Italian. I’ve learned a technical skillset, managed teams, spearheaded projects, and collaborated on some truly remarkable things.

From phones to management

I began as a phone agent in the billing assistance department handling customer disputes. After about a year, I took a role learning the basics of database and query design. I then got accepted into the Field Operations Leadership Program (OLP). After that, I spent roughly eight years as a team leader in Card Member Assistance. Working in card member assistance was where I learned most of our core processes and some of our specialty lines.

Pushing for better outcomes

My experience across the organization made me a unique candidate for my current role in capacity planning. My team is responsible for ensuring that there are a sufficient number of people on the phones to handle inbound and outbound collection calls in Card Member Assistance. Because of my past experience, I’m able to understand the needs of operations, reporting, and workforce management alike. I would like to believe that this helps me achieve better outcomes for all parties impacted by my capacity plans.

Balancing duty and innovation

Around 70% of my time is spent on the day-to-day administrative needs of my job role. However, the remaining 30% is used to try new initiatives, focus on personal development, re-think strategies, align goals, etc. I’ve always been fortunate enough to be managed by people who were very interested in allowing discretionary time to be spent on process and self-improvement.

Starting with the end in mind

In each of my business units, roles and processes, I’ve tried to always make the job what it needed to be, rather than what it was. I start with the end vision in mind and then try to work step by step to reach that goal. I fear sometimes that people let the difficulty of a large initiative prevent them from taking small incremental steps. My motto is “perfect should never be the enemy of good.”

Leveraging new tech

I feel my greatest contributions at Discover have been related to my efforts to improve our technical enablement. I’ve leveraged new technology to improve our data reliability, accuracy and automation. I’m engaged in the work of automating data feeds into the capacity plan in order to reduce human error and provide faster, more transparent reporting into our forecasts.

Advice from Roger

One of the most positive experiences I’ve had at Discover came from an informal meeting some eight years ago with our Chief Executive Officer and President, Roger Hochschild. Someone asked Roger for his best piece of advice for an early career professional. His answer surprised me. He said: Never work for a boss who doesn’t have a life outside of work… because their idea of fun is you being in the office with them! His response was obviously comedic, but what he was touching upon was the superb work-life balance at Discover. Many companies say they encourage work-life balance, but in my experience, Discover truly makes it a priority.

Full tuition reimbursement

Wondering if you should join Discover? Do it! Because of Discover’s tuition reimbursement, I graduated with zero loan debt. I was promoted to management within a year of starting on the phones and it changed the course of my life. I’ve learned new skills, worked with extraordinary people and grown beyond what I thought was possible. I believe it’s a place of great opportunity for those who work hard, play hard and always do their best to win.