Imani Walton, Training Associate, “When you invest in employee relationships, it can bear fruit in wonderful and unexpected ways.”

When I first joined OppLoans, I was thrown off by how nice and helpful everyone was. I had come from some pretty “every person for themselves” kind of environments; at first, I didn’t really know what to do. Everyone was so happy and eager to help each other out … clearly, there had to be a catch.

But it quickly became clear to me that there wasn’t a catch; people’s desire to help was genuine. Not only that, it was infectious. OppLoans was built on a foundation of delivering five-star customer service by treating our customers with empathy — and that commitment extends to our fellow employees, as well. When we help each other out and work as a team, it’s our customers who win.

I soon found that this type of environment suited me really well. Even though I often worked from home as a member of the customer advocate team, I became more and more involved with shadowing for new hires. When the position of training associate opened up earlier this year, I applied for it and got it!

In the past few months, the company has introduced even more ways for employees to help each other – not just with the ins and outs of our jobs, but with our long-term career goals, as well. One of the initiatives that has been introduced is a mentorship program, facilitated by our Oppt for Gender Equality employee-led community, that pairs employees with senior and C-Suite level executives.

When this program was announced, I signed up immediately. I’ve always had an interest in marketing, so I was paired with our Chief Marketing Officer, John O’Reilly. He has been a fantastic mentor, extremely straightforward, and approachable – when he isn’t in a meeting I can pretty much pop into his office any time – and happy to answer the many questions I throw at him constantly. I even told him that I like to collect refrigerator magnets, so he picked one up for me on his recent vacation to Rome!

Recently, I decided that I wanted to form a new employee-led community focused around the Black identity. When the time came to find a C-Suite executive sponsor for the group, I asked John, and he accepted. It’s something I wouldn’t have even conceived of doing before getting to know him, but that’s just the thing: When you invest in your employees and foster these kinds of relationships, it can bear fruit in wonderful and unexpected ways.

This new community, Oppt for Black Excellence, is still in its initial stages, but I’m excited for all the different opportunities we have to give back, both inside and outside the company. We can volunteer, hold food drives, sponsor cultural dance classes – I’m especially looking forward to holding potlucks with different kinds of foods from the African Diaspora.

While this community is going to be highly collaborative, the one goal I have for it is that it makes everyone feel welcome – because that’s how I feel when I’m around my people! At a place like OppLoans, where folks across the company are already so welcoming and eager to help out, I think that attitude is going to fit right in.