Employee Highlights: Emily Krauss
Every company has a unique history. It’s story of its roots, development, and growth can tell a lot about its future. As they say, to understand where you are going, you need to understand where you have been.
However, people move on from companies often in this day and age, but we are proud to have many who have stuck around for years, contributing to our successes and journey. Emily Krauss is one of these loyal Lendies who has seen the company's past milestones and is very much a part of contributing to the upcoming ones.
Not only is she an amazing voice for us, but her own career trajectory and evolution are fascinating. We are proud to be a place that not only has employees who support its growth and changes but can support the growth and changes of its employees as well.
Read more to hear Emily’s unique story and some throwback stories from earlier Kiavi days.
Current Position Title:
Associate Software Engineer
Years at Kiavi:
Tell us about what originally drew you to Kiavi when first interviewing.
I actually didn’t interview for my first role. I only really interviewed for two roles at Kiavi, and the other ones kind of happened naturally. I wasn’t even supposed to be hired for a full-time position. I started out as a contract employee. In 2015, I had just quit my job at RadioShack in Maine, and my aunt wanted me to visit her in San Francisco. She called me and said, "I just started working at this really cool mortgage company, and we need someone to do post-closing work." I was going to fly out, work for a few months, use the money I earned to pay for the trip, and then go home. But as soon as I got here, I realized I wanted to be part of this growing team and the startup culture. So I just...snuck my way in.
What was the company like then? How is it different than it is now?
It was wild, man. We were in one little office in SF, and everyone knew everyone else. We had a bell that we used to ring every time we closed a loan. It was a rite of passage: every time a loan closed, we’d all shout at someone who hadn’t rung the bell yet, and they had to go ring it. As we closed more and more loans, you could understand why we stopped doing that. Now, we have employees all across the country, but everyone still gets to know everyone else, even remotely. The culture has evolved, but we still win as a team, no matter what.
Describe the role you first started with.
I was a Post Closing Specialist! After a loan closes, the lender still needs to get back the physical documents to send to the investor who buys it. Post-closing handles getting those documents back in-house, packages the collateral documents for the investor, and ships them out. We’re a tech company, but there’s no getting away from all the paperwork that comes with mortgages. At least not yet.
What were your next role(s)?
After post-closing, I moved to closing and was a Document Specialist. I stayed in that role for the longest amount of time. Then, I moved to Learning and Development, where I worked mostly with sales. That role shifted to a more tech/ops-focused role, and I was training teams on new technology that our engineers were building. Now, I’m an Associate Software Engineer. Officially, I’ve been in the Operations, Sales, Employee Success, and Technology Teams.
What did you like about each? What did you learn in each?
I liked fixing problems for our customers in my closing roles. There were a lot of small details that needed to be checked to ensure a smooth closing. I learned the mortgage industry through those roles and was considered a "closing expert," which is wild because I was working with people who had been in the industry for 10+ years.
In the Learning and Development roles, I gained a lot more autonomy. I wasn’t just focused on closing, I was focused on anything and everything that needed to be done. I got to learn a ton about sales and sales enablement, product, real estate investing, and UAT (user acceptance testing).
How have you seen goals, products, and focus shift during your time here?
Early on, we were focused on growth and "go, go, go!" Now it’s all about optimization—how can we take this thing that we’ve built and perfect it? Make our people faster and better than they already are. Make our customers' businesses easier to scale. We’ve introduced new products, removed products that didn’t serve our customers, and fine-tuned our bridge product.
Describe to us the process and story of your transition into a software engineer?
I used to work at RadioShack, and I liked tinkering and building things. I was always interested in programming, but for a while, I was so focused on learning mortgage and real estate that I never had time for it. It wasn’t until my Learning and Development role that I finally had the time.
I picked up a book and started teaching myself. When I got stuck, I asked a fellow engineer to explain something to me. From there, he started recommending books, articles, and people to connect with. He also spent time after hours to teach me CS basics, just for funsies.
At some point, another coworker (who also transitioned from Ops to Tech) caught wind of this and went and told our Director of Engineering about it. He and I sat down. I showed him the little thing I had recently built, and he asked, "Do you want to work part-time on the experience team?" and I said, "yes, I sure do."
What did you need to learn for a role like that?
EVERYTHING! But you need to learn everything one thing at a time. I had to learn how to write code. I had to learn how to write tests. I had to learn how to talk to my computer. I had to learn how to ask questions differently. I had to learn how to think differently. And I had to learn how to be comfortable being really bad at something.
How did you feel supported?
I never expected so much encouragement. All the engineers here were like, "Oh, you want to learn what it is that I do? That's awesome! Let me help you." My co-workers took time out of their nights and weekends to teach me. One met with me every two weeks so I could shadow him even before I transitioned to the new role. There are tons more people I could list. I’m very thankful.
What were some challenges you have faced?
Being too hard on myself. Dealing with imposter syndrome. I have a tiny computer with only eight gigs of RAM (thank you, Kiavi, for sending me a better computer with more RAM).
What's the most rewarding part of the new role?
Learning every day. Working on the coolest team ever. Fixing things. Solving problems. Finding solutions.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I am refactoring some code that deals with closing fees. It makes sense, right? I worked in closing, and now I get to play around with the closing code.
Favorite part of Kiavi technology?
I really like using ruby and rails. I did a coding boot camp over the summer, and the tech stack they taught with was not ruby/rails, and it was so much less fun writing that code than it is writing ruby code.
How do you see our technology making an impact on the real estate investing industry?
I think our technology makes real estate investing more accessible. Because of the way we leverage tech, we see customers go from first-time flippers to real estate pros. And because our technology allows our customers to scale their business so quickly, we’re enabling them to revitalize more and more homes.
What is the most special thing about working at Kiavi?
The people. I’m not the only one who made a career transition. We’ve had funders move over to our finance team. Loan analysts go on to be underwriters. Someone who starts as a document specialist can go on to be one of our top sales reps. We have amazing talent here and amazing growth opportunities.
Anything else you want to share?
Yes! I want to see more women in engineering. Please apply.
Agreed! We’d love to see more people in tech. Thanks, Emily for sharing your story in an open, honest way. We appreciate all your hard work at Kiavi and are proud of your career journey.
Check out some fun pictures of Emily's time here at Kiavi:
Emily is here with her closing team. This was taken in 2018. For pride month, they color blocked the teams and closing was the blue team.
Mortgage Ops Team in 2017.
Sales Enablement outing!
Sales Enablement threw a Holly Jolly Kiavi Party—and it was a major success.
Emily and the Professional Development Team.
Hawaiian themed day with Closing and Post Closing Teams.