Marielle Sarkan, Operational Risk Analyst, “I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.”

In summer 2019, I found myself at a crossroads. After spending the past year improving OppLoans’ servicing platform as a member of the customer operations team, I felt like I’d accomplished everything I could in my current role. I was trying to figure out what was next, but I needed some guidance.

Around that time, one of our new employee-led communities, Oppt for Gender Eq(ual)ity was piloting a mentorship program that pairs employees with senior and C-Suite executives. My supervisors understood that I was looking to take that next step in my career, so they encouraged me to apply. 

I was paired with Vice President of Operational Risk, Marjorie Poulos, who had recently joined the company. Looking back on the experience, I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. Marjorie is honest, insightful, and exactly the kind of person that I needed to help me move forward in my career. 

The fact that Marjorie was brand new to OppLoans when we started working together was a blessing. Once you’ve worked at a company for a few years, there are things you start to overlook. She was able to come in with a fresh set of eyes and tell me exactly what she saw.

The best piece of advice she gave me was not to focus so much on the little things that may not make a difference in the end. Instead, focus on the big things that matter. I’m kind of a Chicken Little-type person; I always think the sky is falling. It was so helpful to have that reassurance from a mentor to help me build that mindset. 

Marjorie and I met regularly, but I also knew her door was always open if I needed to meet sooner. And as we progressed in our mentorship, we honed in on my tenure with OppLoans; I’ve been here three-and-half years, which is a long time relative to most other people here. I’ve picked up so much information about how different departments function —  some of that from my own exploration and some of it through sheer osmosis.

That experience, coupled with my problem-solving skills, my work ethic, and my natural curiosity, meant that I had a lot to offer. I already knew that to some degree, but receiving validation from Marjorie confirmed it. That validation gave me a real boost. When I found a new role that suited my skill sets — lots of cross-team collaboration and deep dives into different aspects of the business — she encouraged me to apply. And I got it!

Starting off the new year in a new role with a new team is a wonderful feeling, and OppLoans is a place where these sorts of opportunities are possible. When I started this mentorship, I wasn’t sure what the next phase of my career held. OppLoans gave me the resources and the space to figure it out, find it, and achieve it.