At SoFi Technologies, we are proud of the culture we’ve created that is built around our 11 core values. These values are at the center of how we think about serving our Members, building our company, and most importantly, how we work better together. Each month, we celebrate one of our values (December is all 11) and focus on how we can foster behaviors that bring that value to life. November is ‘Run After Problems’, which is centered around operational efficiency and striving for excellence. So today, we’re sitting down with Vice President, Invest, Yelena Drabkin to learn how she drives efficiency and alignment through collaboration, shared goals, and accountability, so we can all stay focused on our north star - helping people achieve financial independence.
Before we get into this Value of the Month, we want to learn about you! What are three things others may not know about you?
- I’m a certified sailing captain.
- I taught myself to be a distance runner and now I get up at 5.30am and run 5Ks three times a week. Thanksgiving 2022 will be my third time running a 10K - my last personal record was 59:51.. I hope to beat it!
- I read at least one book a month (sometimes a couple in parallel) over the past 11 years.
It sounds like you have a competitive spirit. Tell us a bit more about your background and what brought you to SoFi.
Yelena: As a professional woman, a mother, and an immigrant, I had been heads down focused on my career, my kids, and home. I was not thinking about finances beyond the ability to live within what we earn. Growing up in Belarus, my parents were more focused on savings and investing in hard goods due to high inflation than about other types of investments. I became curious about investing a couple of years ago, and wished I would have had somebody or something in my life point me in the right direction in my early 20’s.
As I expanded my knowledge and interest in financial literacy, it became apparent to me that there is a huge opportunity for people living within the United States to expand their understanding of their financial health. I wish our kids could start learning financial literacy in elementary school. SoFi’s mission of helping people achieve financial independence really resonated with me and the opportunity to lead the Invest product was the cherry on the top.
"I'm extremely passionate about SoFi’s mission and am excited to be at the company in a role that’s focused on helping people get their money right, so they have a chance to focus on what matters most to them."
Our Value of the Month in November is ‘Run After Problems’. Can you explain how you live this value in your role at SoFi? ?
Yelena: To me, ‘Run After Problems’ means accountability. Before we start running, we have to identify what success looks like. I started three months ago, and in that time, I’ve met with our cross functional teams (Business Units, Marketing, Operations, Engineering) and narrowed down the problems we are all facing together. We then created a vision of what success looks like and secured alignment on how to measure it - through our company-wide OKR project. OKRs (Objective and Key Results) are a collaborative goal-setting methodology used by teams and individuals to set challenging, ambitious goals with measurable results. OKRs are how we track progress, create alignment, and encourage engagement around measurable goals. Currently, we are working on how different teams are going to contribute to bringing that vision to life and how we are going to track progress. In order to stay accountable , we have regular check-ins to see how we’re tracking against the OKRs, which allow us to stay on track, identify gaps, and as a team, align on the owners and the next steps. Moreover, we track the work we are doing outside of OKRs that might be impacting our main goals.
A fundamental part of this value is around operational efficiency and striving for excellence - how do you see this coming to life at SoFi (either in your team, personally, or the company as a whole)?
Yelena: In my experience, the OKR process has been a great tool to drive efficiency within individual teams and across the company. It allows different orgs to have shared objectives and clearly understand how everyone is contributing to bigger company goals.
With my direct reports I also use a weekly sync document. Each of us (including myself!) highlight our wins of the week, voice any delays or concerns, and share what is top of mind. It brings transparency onto the team, allows each of us to ask questions, and get involved if needed. It also enables us to spend our 1:1 time on more strategic topics or personal development vs status updates.
Thank you for sharing how you Run After Problems at SoFi, Yelena. Readers, if this value resonates with you, come work with us! We’re hiring.
The individual featured is a SoFi employee. Their personal experiences, obviously, do not take into account your own specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. Results will vary.
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