Ain’t I A Woman: Andrella Thomas

“What you’ve gone through doesn’t need to dictate your success in life,” Manager Diversity & Inclusion HR Consultant Andrella Thomas said. “Sometimes I feel like I haven’t progressed enough or I’m not where I want to be and then I realize, I am where I need to be.”

After 24 years at Capital One, Andrella is somewhat of a celebrity on our Plano campus, getting hugs and smiles everywhere she turns. She’s even been referred to as our own personal Oprah and for good reason. Her laugh is contagious, her eyes are bright, and her personality is even brighter. “My journey here at Capital One has gone pretty slow,” she said. “I let my insecurities hold me back, but I ended up having support from incredible people and as I started to do jobs that helped me have an impact on the lives of others, I knew my purpose was to be here.”

Andrella grew up in Houston as one of five siblings. One day, the school bus driver dropped her and her sisters off at the restaurant where her mother worked. “Our apartment was right behind the restaurant so mom told us to go home and pick one thing that we couldn’t live without,” she said. “So, I picked my Cabbage Patch Kid – little DeAndre Deshawn.”

When they returned to the restaurant, their mom had made them their favorite foods and that night, they boarded a Greyhound bus for Arlington, TX with nothing but one toy and the clothes on their backs.

“My mom knew that was the only time we could leave and my dad wouldn’t know where we were,” she said. Andrella’s dad came home from the military addicted to drugs and had abused her mom and the four girls for years. He forced the girls not to tell anyone, threatening to kill their mom.

After years of keeping it to herself, Andrella finally opened up to her mom and siblings during a family meeting. “I had harbored this secret at work, with my family, with my friends,” she said. “No one knew until I was 30.

“For a time, it hindered me and really stopped me from pursuing things that I wanted to do professionally. I didn’t feel worthy because I had this abuse hanging over my head. I worked really hard, but if someone offered me an opportunity to grow in my career, I wouldn’t take it.”

Andrella joined her mother and sister to share their stories at the Samaritan Inn in McKinney. “That moment was life-changing for me because a lady grabbed my hand and said, ‘I was going to kill myself today, but you saved my life.’ I realized that I have a responsibility to tell my story and not be afraid of who I am,” she said.

Andrella started at Capital One in Collections. Her most recent endeavor before moving to the FS Diversity & Inclusion team was with Capital One University where she was promoted to Principal Associate. Her best advice on growing your career was to, “Stay focused on your goals and build a group of strong allies. Be authentic. Be you.

“As a black woman, sometimes we feel like we are last on the totem pole, but I love that we’re creating this beautiful culture of inclusiveness at Capital One. When I think of Moving Forward Together I envision grabbing the hand of the person next to you. That person may be pulling back because they may not see their worth,” she said. “Sometimes we have to put the flashlight on people so they can see how special they are. Then, we lift them up and help them. It’s not only about progressing yourself, but bringing others along with you.

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