Hi everyone, I’m Esther Rasche. I’m a Senior Engineering Manager on Valon’s Delinquency team, which is responsible for supporting homeowners during the various phases of mortgage delinquency. At the time of writing this, I’ve been working at Valon for exactly 60 days. A lot of people have asked me what it’s like to work at an early-stage, rapidly growing startup, so I decided to document some of my thoughts.
I found Valon after being contacted by a recruiter. I would not have otherwise had mortgage servicing at the top of my mind. Frankly, in the current macroeconomic climate, I was a little hesitant about it. It was only after speaking with Valon employees that I first realized what the mortgage servicing industry truly was, and what it could be.
I’m a big believer in businesses that solve a problem that needs to be solved (not a problem that’s nice to have solved). Technology is going to be a way to innovate within this behemoth of an industry where problems need innovative solving.
Once I made that connection, I became excited about Valon. It seemed to me that they were (and are) doing exactly what a tech company should be doing: working closely with cross-functional business partners that have a lot of domain expertise. They were moving fast and iterating. They were working very precisely in a compliance-heavy environment.
Essentially, they were developing their product efficiently but with diligence in mind. The technology itself had strong domain boundaries and seemed architected to grow with the company. That was impressive to see in an early stage company. It was extremely encouraging.
Upon joining Valon, some of the first things I took note of were the strong cultural values. One of those is “floor to ceiling windows,” which is their version of transparency. The level of transparency that upper management demonstrates permeates through the company as a whole. It’s very refreshing, and I think that’s how you get things done as a startup: being honest about challenges, successes, and failures. The culture is also growth-minded. People here have various levels of tenure in specific areas, like mortgage servicing, and everybody is really eager to teach and learn.
Valon also tries to be intentional about incorporating remote teammates into the conversation. There are remote events and other things that really build a “hybrid culture.” We keep things very internally accessible on Slack and Jira, making it easy to keep everyone in the loop, regardless of locale.
Here’s what you should expect as a new Valon employee being onboarded. First off, you get an “onboarding buddy” and some helpful onboarding documentation.
Valon has done an excellent job with both of those things. We work in a very complex domain—there’s even a Confluence page dedicated to all of the industry-specific lingo we use. I was thankful that it was very clear to me how I should be familiarizing myself and who I could turn to for help.
At Valon, it’s easy to learn about things that you might just be curious about. That contributes to a really great onboarding experience. You’ll do plenty of one-on-ones with your onboarding buddy, with your manager, and with teammates. You’ll be encouraged to flag anything that isn’t working for you, and those concerns will be addressed efficiently. They answer any questions you might have, and it’s all very comforting.
Valon is a growing company. I’ve had people join my team since I joined (60 days ago), and I take a lot of responsibility for their ramp-up. But I also have to remind them, hey, I’m pretty new too. And that can be reassuring for them. We’re in the same boat, we can all breathe easy and figure out how to do the best job we can.
People here like to say, “one team, one dream.” That really does set the tone—it feels like we’re all going to succeed together.
Valon’s culture is dynamic, and employees are empowered to be decision-makers. “Wait, but why?” is a question that is asked habitually throughout the company. In my first 60 days, we have evolved many of our team’s processes and made changes to our team’s structure based on feedback. During those first 60 days, my domain knowledge has exponentially increased.
Beyond these 60 days, I’ll be looking for opportunities to make a larger impact, both in the Delinquency team and throughout Valon.
When you’re a manager at Valon, you become very intentional about wanting to be a multiplicative force on the team. What keeps me motivated to continue ramping up, to continue learning, is that I really want to help guide the team in how they work together. If everybody becomes more efficient, if we as a team work together in a more efficient way, that’s multiplicative value.
At a small startup, a lot of the earlier employees will become the company’s leaders. What keeps me challenged is asking myself: how do I (and Valon as a whole) guide engineers into becoming leaders?
If you’re interested in joining our team here at Valon, check out some of our job opportunities. Or, if you have any questions about my time here, send me an email at email@example.com.