The Humans of Fundbox: Malena Stoworth

Smiling Marlena Stallworth, head of the onboarding expert team and head of the staff resource group at Fundbox

The Humans of Fundbox: Malena Stoworth

Our Fundbox Human series gives us the opportunity to showcase some of the outstanding people who work in our company and let them share what is important to them. In this article, we are proud to introduce to you Marlena Stallworth, head of the onboarding expert team and head of the employee resource group of Fundbox. Marlena is headquartered in the Dallas, Texas regional office, but has been working from home like the rest of us during the COVID-19 pandemic since March. She explained helping small business clients, working at Fundbox, and even throughout the process Cultivating alliances and diversity is important to her company.

Smiling Marlena Stallworth, head of the onboarding expert team and head of the staff resource group at FundboxMarlena Stallworth, Head of Onboarding Expert Team and Head of Employee Resource Group at Fundbox

First, please tell us a little bit about the work you have done for Fundbox.

Marlena Stallworth: I was hired as an onboarding expert in May 2019 to help clients potentially obtain Fundbox credits for their businesses. These people have entered information into the application process, but have not yet completed it. Generally speaking, this will be for one or two reasons: either they are unsure about the product, or they want someone to guide them to solve a technical problem.

What are the typical problems people encounter when applying for a credit line?

Sometimes our potential customers will ask themselves: “Do I even need this?” They may worry about what terms we have to provide and how they will fit into the other ongoing payment cycles of their business. Is this really appropriate? It is very common to clarify the qualification requirements. Will the application affect their credit score? (No.) Or, if they are studying how to calculate interest rates themselves, that part may be a bit confusing; that’s because our loan term is only 12 or 24 weeks instead of 12 months, so the APR (annual interest rate) is actually It does not accurately reflect the services we provide.

In the first few months, what did you learn to make you so successful? You are now the head of the onboarding team.

You know, sometimes we might make 80 to 100 calls, and for me, when you spread this level of activity throughout the day, I question the quality of the actual conversation. How are we really taking the time to help each customer? So in the next few months, I’m really thinking about how to develop better strategies-not only in terms of calls, but also in terms of all touch points, such as email and the application itself.

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I think some of the questions we asked are a bit too general. So I tried very hard to make these conversations more graceful, because I really worked hard to make people trust us more as their agents, not just as representatives of Fundbox. Credit is a very personal matter. This can be a very emotional process-because this is your small business and your money, and sometimes even the livelihood of your employees.

I started to spend more time on these calls. If the average customer call is only a few minutes, mine may be 12-15. Sometimes I learn about people’s family members, how many cats they have, how long they have been in business, and what their plans are for the future of the business. Why putting a safety net in your back pocket is good for your heart and all important things at the core of your business, this will start to make sense.

Before Fundbox, how did your background and career path prepare you for today’s job?

When I was in college, I minored in dance, which is my hobby since I was three years old. My major is English education-because I like to communicate with people and get acquainted with people easily. This seems to be a natural process because there are many educators in my family. But I quickly discovered that the business aspect of education was not suitable for me from an emotional point of view, because there were all bureaucracies and different political views in the system.

Therefore, I entered the retail industry for a long time as a manager. There I realized that I really love someone! From a professional point of view, this pointed the way for me. Selling goods or services to people, whether it’s a wardrobe or a life insurance plan, is to figure out how it will benefit them. I think, “I will get to know you more and more, and you will believe in my life.” I have never avoided this concept.

I have worked in the banking industry for many years, starting about 12 or 13 years ago. The contact with investment bankers gave me a real interest in life insurance. I have always maintained the life insurance and annuity licenses for applicants. I think that having difficult and detailed conversations with my family about their needs (whether corporate customers or domestic customers) is where I learn to develop more thorough customer communications. People want to complete this process. Customers appreciate this human aspect very much. I realized that working at a smaller bank, this kind of keen attention is rare in larger lending institutions. Smaller companies train their employees to understand you better, and the same level of attention can be seen on Fundbox.

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What is the motivation for working at Fundbox?

As my manager might tell you, money is the smallest factor in my motivation. I usually use financial indicators to help motivate others. I firmly believe that when you consistently do what your customers think is right, all the numbers will be in place. The process of getting to know the customer is an incentive in itself. It is imperative to use excellent listening skills to get a keen understanding of the reasons why customers choose to work with Fundbox. Did they find us or refer them to us? What helped them make this decision? What problems can we help solve? How can we help you grow?

These questions are not just raised to complete the list. This is really about building our relationship with that person, and I have always been committed to having a conversation-whether it is a very suitable person, a suitable person, or a person who is not suitable for us now. At the end of the conversation, I always hope that potential customers will feel that they are more educated anyway.

I like to meet with clients and adjust recommendations based on what they want to achieve. It is important to establish a natural sensitivity to the environment in which people live. During a pandemic, having to build muscle becomes very important because people not only have to face the concept of how the pandemic affects their business; now this is how it affects their families. Some people really need to hear that they are not alone, we are here to serve them and thank them for their continued business.

Helping applicants become new customers​​is not all you do for Fundbox. You can also increase awareness, alliances, and corporate culture by leading employee resource groups.

Several situations Injustices against black people have recently become the focus on various social platforms. We are convinced that the current racial situation will not be improved by a community’s own actions. We now know more than ever that we all need each other to truly see continuous progress.

After the death of George Floyd, the executive and human resources team approached me and our sales support manager Jordan Eldridge, hoping to have a public discussion with the company. It is absolutely important to truly understand how our employees feel about racial differences and inequality. We then led a four-part discussion in the round table forum. This is especially important because we have many employees with different demographics in different parts of the world between California, Texas, and Israel. These discussions give us the opportunity to truly respect everyone’s views and opinions. We need to be a nation, as Americans, not just blacks, not only whites, not just Latins, no matter who we are-we all need to work together to make changes.

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First, we launched the #Allyship channel on Slack [our internal online message board], This gives us as employees a channel to exchange information and share different perspectives, so that everyone can see our experience and continue to learn from each other. Then we developed an employee resource group and formed three different teams: the pride group, the women of the Fundbox, and the melanin group.

Tell us about The Melanin Collective team you lead at Fundbox.

The name melanin collective is very important because sharing perspectives on cross-cultural demographics is a key aspect. People in all communities accept and celebrate black culture. We want to impress our members, we are all “collective of melanin”; all people are people of color. Moving forward from the system side, we must all continue to work together. As a group, The Melanin Collective is working hard to bring many benefits to Fundbox. We strive to identify and help develop internal leaders in Fundbox to close the gap and allow more black leaders in our company. As we continue to educate employees through internal activities, group discussions, etc., our efforts will result in a higher retention rate. In the upcoming season, our staff will grow substantially. We are working hard to recruit underrepresented individuals and develop diversified channels of outstanding talent.

What advice do you have for others who are considering working at Fundbox?

Keep an open mind and flexibility, because even after 8 years, there is still a lot of entrepreneurial feeling. Change is sometimes the highest constant, especially this year. You should be satisfied that you may wear more than one hat at the same time on any given day. I think this will lead people to great success.

Also, be yourself. I especially like Fundbox because I can do it myself. Not only can I be who I am, but my unique personality is also truly appreciated here. If I compare my professional experience, I think this is the most prominent thing. I feel that admiration for my skills has a lot to do with my soft skills and integrity, not just the books and certificates that I bring to my work.

Want to work with Marlena? Check out our Fundbox career page.

Want more people from Fundbox?

  • Meet Prashant Fuloria, CEO
  • Meet Gibson Holland, Sync Support Manager
  • Meet Emad ElShawa, Business Operations Manager
  • Meet Tom Goldschmiedt, Human Resources Operations Manager
  • Meet with Danielle Shaul, head of risk and compliance operations team
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