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Leadership in Action 8 of 12
Until mid-July, Judy Pahren was Capital One's senior vice president of development, diversity and human resources communications. Her new role is that of financial services senior vice president. She also sponsors Capital One's Women's Network. Network associates attend seminars, mentor and participate in volunteer projects that range from the Komen Race for the Cure to Capital One's Future Leaders Forum for high-school girls.
Her nonprofit involvement includes serving as chairwoman on the Richmond Forum's board and sitting on the Maymont Foundation, ChildSavers/Memorial Child Guidance Clinic and the Powell Center for Economic Literacy boards. She met her husband, Dave, at Duke University, and is mom to two girls, 10 and 6. A Richmond native, she moved back to her hometown in 1994 to work for Capital One.
Q. Capital One's volunteerism stats are impressive — more than 70,000 volunteer hours in 2008 on community projects, executives serving on more than 300 nonprofit boards and more than $2 million in skill-based volunteering, from branding to financial advice for nonprofits. So, what was your first Capital One volunteer project?
A: I remember working with my Capital One mentor on putting in a door to an attic for a Habitat for Humanity house. The construction supervisor told us, "That's beautiful work, but too bad it's in backward."
Q. How is your volunteerism program structured?
A: Respecting others and being a part of the community in which we work and live is imbedded in our corporate culture. We also have a flexible-work-solutions culture. We are not as focused on the old style of management. We look at work outcomes and believe people can work from anywhere. We try to support people. If someone needs to run to a child's soccer practice, or wants to take a class or wants to volunteer for two hours every Wednesday, we individualize. And we have team projects.
Q. Team projects?
A: For example, our human resources team has 100 to 120 people, and for our team activity, we established a partnership with Fairfield Court Elementary School. Last year, the team hosted students on the Capital One campus for a motivational and educational event in lieu of having a holiday party for employees. This year, the school requested a Virginia map painted on their playground blacktop to help with the SOLs. In the fall, we plan to paint artwork to help beautify the school.
Q. What's the most important lesson you've learned from your nonprofit board work?
A: People's motivations are always important — the reasons for people being there are very diverse. How to keep them engaged is something you need to find out, and it's time-intensive. It's hard to get at that sometimes in a committee meeting, so I speak with everyone individually and then try to create an environment where people can speak openly and where we get a good outcome.