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Mark Shapiro ('02)

Alumnus Mark Shapiro

Mark Shapiro
Director of Software Engineering, Capital One
Class of ’02

I’ve been lucky in that I’ve been doing “computer science stuff” since picking it up as an elective in high school. I have been in the software engineering field for almost 20 years, most recently in Richmond, Virginia, dedicated to building systems on the Internet from retail/ecommerce, to state government, and the financial industry. 

I’ve been working at Capital One for 9+ years, growing from developing code to leading a team and helping run multiple applications across teams. Currently, I’m focusing on our credit card rewards platform. In 2019, I helped found our corporate alumni chapter in partnership with Virginia Tech. 

Apart from work, my wife and I (also a Hokie) enjoy hanging out at home with our two cats and of course watching Virginia Tech play (either in person or on TV). In my remaining free time, I try to keep busy with working out, playing some video games, and trying out some new baking recipes.

How did the department equip you for the ‘real world’...

It helped me get over some of my procrastination habits. After the second or third time of submitting a project at midnight just under the wire (and hoping it all worked), I decided to start working ahead of time and getting things done early. While I’m still not entirely over my procrastination, being able to finish tasks earlier comes in handy quite often in work and allows you some flexibility to deal with other needs.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that taking public speaking prepared me more for a lot of work activities than I ever thought at the time. Sometimes, soft skills are just as important (if not more) than how well you can write code.

Being a Virginia Tech alumnus means…

I love being around town or in a different city and if I’m wearing maroon and orange, I can usually expect to hear a “Go Hokies!” yell at some point. It’s like being part of a family and everyone just “gets it”. Where it’s normal to play Metallica at your wedding reception and jump into the room, because that’s just what you’re supposed to do!

My fondest memory from my time in the department is…

Other than the hikes from McBryde to Litton Reeves, uphill in the snow in 10 minutes? 

I enjoyed taking comparative languages my junior year. It was interesting to learn a variety of different languages (Smalltalk, Prolog and Lisp), and how they each had different-use cases. It helped drive home that there isn’t always a single correct solution to a problem, but it’s more about using the right tool for the job. 

Helping with the launch of the Capital One Corporate Alumni Chapter was important to me because…

This holds a special place in my heart for things I’ve done in my career thus far. Now having been at Capital One for almost half of my career, it is great to bring together my place of work and Virginia Tech for mutual goals. So far, we have over 300 Hokies across the company in our chapter. While we’re not able to get together for games and other events, it’s great just to be able to communicate with others that share the same passion for the university and all things Virginia Tech. I’m very excited about how we can grow this community, give back to the school, and make Blacksburg feel just a little bit closer to all of us every day.

What’s in your wallet?

I do have a number of Capital One credit cards, and not just because I work here. I think I still have my Hokie Passport laying around somewhere. Besides my wallet, one thing I always have nearby are my running shoes or maybe some exercise equipment. 

I’m always doing some form of exercise to help myself stay level, relieve some stress, or maybe even burn off some extra calories after a stop at Sharkey’s on a gameday weekend. Going for a workout during lunch is one of my favorite activities to break up the day and recharge me for the afternoon. When we were still in the office, Capital One had an onsite fitness center that let me pop in and out without missing a beat!