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From intern to Director

Name: Kyle S.
Job Title: Director, Cloud Security, Business Technology

I’ve been with Discover since 2005—started as an intern! When I’m not thinking about how to secure the cloud, I enjoy time with my lovely wife and our dog. When left to my own device, I follow the latest trends in pop culture and tabletop gaming. I have a great love for telling narrative stories and as such enjoy rolling twenty-sided dice to slay dragons.

How did you land at Discover?

I went to school at Illinois State University for a degree in Computer Science. I was introduced to Discover through one of the school’s numerous job fairs. The Discover intern program at the time was ahead of the other companies at the fair, providing intern events, housing and friendly people. I made my decision to do whatever I could to get an internship opportunity at Discover. Anything to get my foot in the door and I’m very happy that Discover saw something in me and offered me an internship.

I’ve had many different roles throughout my career at Discover. Currently, I am a Director of Cloud Security but just before that I was the product manager and people leader of our Cloud Cybersecurity teams. I guide our cloud cybersecurity strategy, act as a cloud security consultant for the enterprise, and coach a wonderful group of engineers who build out incredible cybersecurity cloud products.

Great experiences, Great Work, Great People

I’ve had numerous great experiences throughout my career at Discover. During my internship, I learned how to network with peers and I made some life-long friends in the process. That network has continued to serve as a support system throughout my time at Discover.

One moment I’m particularly proud of is helping to organize the Robocar Rally. This event helped demonstrate the benefits of cloud computing and machine learning. What started off as an idea from a small piece of feedback, turned into a wonderful learning experience on our campus. We had folks in the upper levels of the building watching the Robocar car track on the ground floor!

While this is just one example, the most common factor to all of the great experiences I’ve had at Discover is the people. I’ve met so many fascinating folks from around the company and it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with such awesome and amazing people.

The difference is in the cloud… cyber cloud that is!

While our team’s contributions may be behind the scenes, I view our team as enablers. For example, when we recognized that security misconfigurations in the cloud could open the door for security threats, we typically tackle this issue by looking into the commercial marketplace for solutions and the products at the time were uninspiring.  So in the spirit of innovation and investing in our talent, we decided to build our own solution!

Our product accomplished a few things. It gave our enterprise developers a set of security guardrails to operate within when deploying infrastructure to the cloud – nearly frictionless cybersecurity. It skilled up our engineering team with cloud security knowledge that will be required as our cloud adoption increases. It also demonstrated the spirit of innovation that Discover promotes – as the product has been recognized by the cloud security community and our cloud providers.

Build more than tech

From a technical skill standpoint, the freedom to pursue new opportunities internally at Discover has enabled me to gain skill sets across test automation, IT operations, systems administration and infrastructure architecture to build a solid foundation for my current role in cybersecurity.

From a development standpoint, wearing different hats and working with numerous teams helped build my people leadership experience. There’s an old metaphor I say often: “I stand on the shoulders of giants.” I have had great mentors throughout my career at Discover who knew what they had to do to push me forward. Whether telling a story, creating a vision or putting together a solution to tackle a complex problem, I’ve been able to exercise my talent for those skills at every opportunity I’ve had at Discover.

Build People:  Investing in them leads to successes

I believe what makes Discover different is our investment in our people. The ability and support to look for new opportunities internally is something I have taken advantage of and not experienced in previous companies. I’ve learned from those before me that investing in our talent yields long term benefits. In retrospect, every sound and rewarding decision I’ve made was made with an eye on talent investment. It’s a common theme in our success.

How is your work and the work of your department meaningful?

Taking care of the security of our customer’s data is integral to all that we do. The talented group of folks I get to work with everyday deliver cybersecurity innovation to enable our business while being relentless in the pursuit to protect our customers and our brand.

If you want to be part of a community of builders, if you want a company that invests in you, if you want to create things that matter, if you want the freedom to express yourself in the work that you do – Discover is the place to be.

We also have great benefits and a remote work-at-home program.

 

 

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Scrum Master for Two Teams

Name: Cynthia D.
Job Title: BT Scrum Master

Aligning on values

I first joined Discover in April 2016 as a part of the Business Technology (BT) Risk and Compliance team. At the time, I was looking for a company that provides its employees with good work-life balance, has values, is going in a direction I agree with, and has amazing people. Discover marked all the boxes and today, I am the Scrum Master for two teams, the Authentication Infrastructure team and the Identity & Directory Services team.

Tools for self-discovery

Discover gives us so many great resources and opportunities to advance our career and networks—both professional and personal. From the Development Central training portal to one-on-one conversations with leadership, I feel I have the opportunity to figure out how I want to grow my career which is very important to me.

I’d like to say that I’m in a unique position—I have a business degree and experience in both technical and risk areas. This combination significantly helps me in my current role as a Scrum Master, as well as bringing a different perspective to the table. Having been an engineer for a few years, I understand the processes and can relate to team members. They also don’t need to explain technical details to me, because I was once in their shoes. On the other hand, my business degree and risk experience give me a unique perspective from my peers and I ask questions and look at situations differently. For instance, I always ask – “How can we communicate this change so our end users fully understand and don’t require follow-up questions?” This saves us time in development and ensures we deliver a quality product.

An opportunity to fall in love

This year, I transitioned from being an engineer into my current role—a Scrum Master and I absolutely love it.  This role keeps me in the technical world and allows me to help enhance current processes, shield my team from distractions and interruptions, and help them become more efficient and effective in everyday work.

Hard work pays off

I love that Discover gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the great work our peers do through various channels, including recognition points to peers and the President’s Award. The greatest award to me is the acknowledgment and appreciation for the work that we do every day. So, when I was nominated and won the President’s Award last year, it meant so much to me that my passion and efforts were not going unnoticed.

Coworkers worth celebrating

As cliché as it sounds, it’s the people who keep me here at Discover. I have gained so many friends as well as grown into the person I am today. At my wedding, I had a whole table full of my Discover friends, and though I’ve only been here for a few years, I have made lifelong friends.

In Corporate America, it’s difficult to find a company that truly cares about you as an individual. Not only is Discover one of those rare companies, but Discover also has company values and beliefs that prove it is looking out for its employees and customers.

 

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Marathon Runner Keeps Her Feet on the Ground and Her Hands in the Cloud

Name: Heather M.
Job Title: Senior Manager Cloud Engineering

I would describe my role as a passionate Cloud solutions evangelist, student and enabler. I am keen on identifying efficiencies, targeting cloud capabilities and automation to drive value. Outside of work, I am part of the first Discover onsite MBA cohort, site coordinator and coach for Girls on the Run, lover of running (more than 10 marathons completed, including two Boston Marathons) and almost anything fitness related. I’m also a proud mama of three!

 

What’s a typical day for you at the office?

We start each day with a short stand-up (i.e. 15 – 30 minute meeting) to review our sprint work for the day. Sprint work is the work we’ve planned in small increments/sections.  Each team member shares what they worked on the day before, plans for today and where they may need help. As a Development Operations team, we build and test the capabilities that will allow consumers to drive desired outcomes with our customers. We are a peer-program, which means we collaborate on ways to fix problems, build new features, or find solutions to give our customers the best experiences. Any given day is split between supporting our platforms, building new capabilities and helping our team mates. Let’s not forget, we constantly talk through future needs driven by our consumers or product roadmaps.  This helps us plan the work into future sprints.

 

How have you been able to “Be Your True Self” at Discover?

In my current role, I have been empowered to lead, fail and grow each and every day. Failures are perceived as opportunities and we take risks to get better. We band together and truly embody a blameless culture. Without learning to fail, we fail to learn.

 

Also, my management is understanding of the need for work-life balance and supports the flexibility needed to manage a team in a growing space alongside the demands of raising a family and being an active member in the community. I’m passionate about fighting human-trafficking and have founded a charity 5K run in my town to raise awareness and funds to help restore the lives of victims.

 

Interested in working in Business Technology?

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This Product Owner Doesn’t Own a Cookie Cutter

Name: Daniel
Job Title: Product Owner

When I was first starting out, I considered many career paths including being a pilot. However, in the end, I chose to study Information Technology, and that’s where I discovered my passion for the latest and greatest technologies.

While in college, I supported the school administration, school board, and president. I then had the opportunity to transfer my skills into developing custom technology solutions for retailers. These leadership interactions and problem-solving experiences allowed me to make the move to Discover and support the executives and board members. Over the last six years, I’ve found that every role has helped prepare me for greater responsibility and success in the next position.

Outside of work, I am a proud dad to a one-year-old daughter, and, in my downtime, I enjoy music, learning how to play new instruments, and watching or listening to Chicago Cubs games (I’ve been a die-hard fan since I was 12-years-old!).

How have you been able to “Be Your True Self” at Discover?

Before joining Discover, I thought the leadership made most decisions in a large company. However, my experience here has been quite the opposite.

There’s truly an open door policy here at Discover.  Employees are encouraged to ask questions, offer input, and voice ideas—it’s ingrained in our culture. From day one, I have been able to voice ideas to leadership all the way up to the executive team.

How do you make a real difference at Discover?

With our new Working Smarter initiative, a program which introduces collaborative tools to help drive productivity and efficiency in our open workspace. I feel we have really hit on something that is making a difference.

For example, I strive to offer technology solutions that provide the best experience possible without impeding the end users ability to get things done. Also, I’m given the flexibility to collaborate with each department to help me understand how each team works. Rather than a cookie-cutter approach, this collaboration allows me to provide unique solutions tailored to each team’s needs. Seeing everyone’s positive reaction gives me confidence that personalized solutions work and are making a real difference at Discover.

What are some of the benefits of working here? Is there anything that surprised you?

The 401k match is extremely competitive. Plus, as a new dad, I was able to take two weeks paid parental leave to adjust to my new family life. Finally, our generous paid time-off policy and our great medical coverage have led me to brag about our company benefits to all my friends!

What would you say to someone who wants to work here?

Discover functions as a large technology company that helps people find financial freedom. I love being part of an organization that is proactive and competitive in the Fintech space. We don’t react to the industry; we are trendsetters and are leading our industry in technology advancements and customer experience.

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Linking machines to learning.

Name: Suvadeep
Job Title: Senior Manager, Data Science

I manage analytics efforts for paid search and media channels for card acquisition. For my PhD dissertation I worked on the big bang machine in Geneva, Switzerland that led to the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle. After working at Fermilab for eight years, I decided to make a career move and join the exciting world of data science. That led me to the position of Data Science Manager in the Supply Chain and Optimization team at Sears Holdings Corp. Two years ago, I was hired at Discover to run a data science team to provide advanced analytical solutions for different businesses.

 

How has Discover helped you in regards to Professional Development?

The open ambience at Discover fosters collaboration. Working with various business units gave me a broad knowledge about different functions within the Discover ecosystem. After being part of the Analytics Lighthouse leadership team, I started directly interacting with Card Marketing Acquisition and have been involved in determining the long term road-map. Lighthouse has given me the exposure to work directly with senior leadership, which sharpened my communication and conflict management skills, and ability to handle crucial conversations. I consider these to be key elements in shaping my professional development.

Tell us about a great experience you’ve had so far here.

Prior to joining Acquisition, I’ve gotten to work with three different business teams—card operations, credit risk and card member assistance—a highlight of that was a visit to our Lake Park office in Salt Lake City, UT. I went on a live call listening program with a team of analysts from Customer Service & Engagement. I got to see how the field agents handle complex calls with ease. At that time, I was working on a machine-learning model to score customer call qualities using recorded transcripts from historical calls. The live listening and interaction with the field agents offered a fresh perspective to what the business really needs. During the trip, I could connect how the work I was involved in can make a difference in improving our cardmembers’ experience.

 

How are your work and the work of your department meaningful?

We are constantly pushing boundaries by seeking cutting edge, best in class technology to drive operational efficiency and speed to market. Having adopted the Discover Management System (DMS) principals, our department is building capabilities within teams and empowering members to make key decisions.  My team is playing its part in having an immediate impact towards driving profitable growth through paid digital channels and improving our customers’ journey through personalization.

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