In the fifth post of our series “Who is Valon?” meet David, the Tech Lead Manager of both Valon’s Delinquency and Investor Reporting teams. He’s an early member of the company who has a lot to say about servicing, startups, and beyond! Get to know more about him.
I’m David, the Tech Lead Manager (TLM) of Delinquency and Investor Reporting.
As a TLM, at any given moment, I could be reviewing technical designs, providing individual feedback, or coding… really doing whatever it takes to get things done. Ultimately, my key focus is on my team: making sure they’re happy and executing well.
What do you do over at Delinquency?
In Delinquency, our mission is to guide homeowners through financial hardship and work with them to get current on their mortgage payments.
Today, this product area is a giant portion of mortgage servicing companies, but we’re just getting started. Most servicers don’t want to tackle default servicing because it’s, well, costly and difficult. But Valon does, and it’s an area where you can have a tremendous impact on the homeowner if you handle it well. You can provide help sooner rather than later. You can provide more accurate help.
So it’s an area everyone on the team is excited about. It motivates me personally because you see first-hand the financial hardship homeowners are going through, and you get to watch that be assuaged as you make their lives easier.
What do you see as the future of the Delinquency team at Valon?
We’re really growing the team now, on both the tech and operations sides. Once we have all the right foundations in place, we’re going to focus on tackling servicing efficiency. Like I said, in most servicing companies, this is the weakest point. So, working to make it one of our strongest, can really change the game.
And what do you do at Investor Reporting?
On the Investor Reporting team, our mission is to move both money and data through our system, and out of our system, into the hands of investors and third party agencies.
One classic example of what we do is credit reporting: reporting every single month on how a homeowner is doing on their payments. This is an area where there are a lot of complex regulations, and a lot of ways to get things wrong when there’s only one right answer. At the end of the day, you want to do whatever you can to minimize the impact of the report on the homeowner. So, if they’re going through hardship and are not able to make their payments, you really want to make sure that you’re firstly pointing them in the right direction, and secondly reporting their circumstances such that their credit score is minimally affected.
An interesting part of being on the Investor Reporting team is that a lot of our problems are cross-team and cross-functional. A lot of our projects involve many product areas and require you to think deeply across horizontals and be able to understand a lot of different domains. So it does require you to work with people on various teams, and it’s a great opportunity to increase your scope at Valon.
How did you find yourself working at Valon?
Before Valon, I was at Google. I was a software engineer there for about three years, and I knew Eric, one of the co-founders of Valon. We actually met at the gym! And one day, Eric ran into me at the gym, sat me down, and talked to me about this startup journey that he was going to embark on. And, you know, the rest is history.
I was in New York for five years, and I moved to the Bay Area very recently. We just kicked off the Bay Area Valon office about two months ago.
I like to think I motivated it in part, because I told Eric two and a half years ago, before I started, “Hey, I’m going to be moving [to the Bay Area] in two years. So…please open an office there.”
So you joined Valon early. What’s been your favorite thing about the company since joining?
At the end of the day, every time people ask that, the answer is always the people. That’s been true from day one, when there were literally five people in the office in New York, and it extends to the two-hundred people at the company today.
Do you have any advice for a young software engineer trying to get into the startup world?
I’d probably say two things. One, have a growth mindset.
At a startup, unlike larger tech companies, you’re going to be expected to contribute in many ways that you probably didn’t anticipate. Every single one of these ways is going to grow you in one way or another. The best thing you can do is be open to it and take pleasure in trying things out. You never know what kinds of roles you’ll fill and where they might take you in the future.
Two, be invested in the business context, be deeply intimate with the company’s mission, because at the end of the day, that’s what really matters. You’re joining to make an impact on the world.
Have you found anything particularly challenging about working in mortgage servicing rather than just regular tech?
I think the biggest challenge is taking a business context and applying it to technology. Distilling that much business context into something that you can build correctly, modularly, in a way that you can scale for many years, is tremendously difficult.
As a skill, it’s very valuable for a software engineer to develop, and you don’t get as much of that at other companies, right? Because for the companies where you’re focusing on a small feature, your work is very, very isolated. You don’t have to understand that much of the business context related to it, and you can get it done and move on to the next thing.
Whereas in servicing, every little thing is intertwined one way or another.
Thanks so much, David. So… what are you watching right now? I’m wrapping up This Is Us. I’m excited to see how it ends.
It was great to speak with David. If you’re interested in opportunities at Valon, check out our open job postings here.