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Matias Benitez learned he wanted to be a software engineer at a young age.
He grew up in Argentina and spent his formative years playing soccer and tinkering with computers, writing his first software application when he was only nine. He came to the US on a soccer scholarship at Grand Canyon University, in Phoenix.
While he majored in business administration—his school didn’t have a computer science program at the time—he focused on honing his software development skills as a student worker in a computer lab and expanded on his tech acumen through internships. His real-world experiences gave him an edge when he took his first job as a software engineer at a Chicago-based start-up in 2005.
“I had the upper hand since I was always working with the latest tech in my free time,” says Benitez, who is currently a vice president of software engineering at Capital One. “Companies were looking for skills that people in school did not have because tech always moved faster than the school curriculum.”
There’s a lesson Benitez learned from his dad whenever he thought he wasn’t qualified for an opportunity. “My dad would just always say, ‘No one has offered you anything yet. Just go ahead and try it. Then, when you get an offer, you get a chance to decide,’” Benitez recalls.
Working with New Technology at Capital One
With his dad’s advice in mind, Benitez continued building his software engineering and leadership expertise while working at two national tech organizations. Then came an opportunity to work for Capital One in 2022. His initial impression was that it was simply a bank. But, as he dove deeper into the company’s technology strides and its tech-focused vision, he quickly learned it was much more than that.
In 2020, Capital One exited its last data centers and became the first US financial institution to go all-in on the public cloud. That journey appealed to Benitez.
“In the very short term,” he explains, “it can be hard to have clarity on the benefits of moving to the cloud, so it’s definitely a long-term play and it’s a big investment. It’s something only a visionary tech company could do.”
It’s the kind of investment Capital One had been making for a decade as part of a broader tech transformation that prioritized a cloud-first environment, top engineering talent, and building and delivering best-in-class products, experiences, and services to customers.
For Benitez, one of the many highlights from that journey has been how Capital One built cloud and data management tools to help it operate at scale in the cloud and is now sharing these learnings with other companies facing similar challenges.
“Capital One is able to take a big visionary idea, understand where the tech is, and bring both of them together to figure out what can be delivered towards that vision,” he says. “We build experiences, functionalities, and products that haven’t been invented. I’m excited to contribute to that for the years to come.”
In 2022, Capital One launched Capital One Software, an enterprise B2B software business, and its first product, Capital One Slingshot. Slingshot is a data management solution built by Capital One that is now available to help other businesses maximize their Snowflake investment, and it’s also a shining example of how Capital One is sharing its learnings with other companies looking to fully leverage their data in the cloud.
The company made headlines in early 2023, being named twice in Fast Company’s 2023 Most Innovative Companies in the Business Services and Travel & Hospitality categories. Capital One secured a top ten placement, and it was one of a few to be recognized across multiple categories. What makes Capital One stand out is its ability to innovate while continuing to serve a customer base it’s been developing since it was founded in 1994.
“We are well positioned to both innovate and serve our customers who rely on us for their financial well-being,” Benitez says.
Creating Opportunities for Hispanics in Tech
Today, he’s looking to take what he’s learned in his career and pass it on to Hispanic professionals as an executive sponsor for Hispanics in Tech, one of Capital One’s Business Resource Groups. He works to address the unique challenges of representing, retaining, and elevating diversity within tech by supporting a variety of opportunities, such as workshops, speaker events, and an annual conference for associates to gain tech and leadership skills, all hosted by Hispanics in Tech.
Benitez wants to create inclusion and belonging for Hispanics in tech while giving back to the community at large. “I believe tech is the best industry to be in,” he notes, “and I want to use my experiences to help bring others from my community to the industry.”
Benitez’s advice for the next generation of Hispanic talent is all about identifying opportunities. “Figure out what your manager needs help with. Take it on and do it extremely well.”
This article is sponsored by Capital One.