Career Story: Vice President Of Product Development At A Loan Consolidation Company

Vice President Of Product Development At A Loan Consolidation Company

Job Title: Executive Vice President, Product And Business Development

Education: MBA, Columbia Business School •• BA, Harvard College

Previous Experience: Worked at Citigroup in various marketing and E-Commerce roles for 9 years before getting hired by Affinity Direct, an Internet marketing company which focused on consolidating Federal Student Loans.

Job Tasks: My company helps students consolidate their federal student loans into one big loan with one monthly payment. This helps students who have taken out several loans during the course of their college or graduate career to pay less per month (because the loan term is extended allowing for lower payments over a longer period of time) and have the convenience of one monthly payment rather than several. The company markets to students through the Internet. I'm in charge of launching the private student loan business, offering private student loans to provide additional financing beyond the federal student loans.

During a given day, I spend time on the phone with business partners such as our technology provider to be able to electronically offer and fulfill the product, and work with project managers to start offering the product to students by the summer. About 65% of my day is spent on essential tasks versus adminstrative tasks. I travel to meet with business partners occassionally. In addition to the operational part of creating a new product, I spend a lot of time with attorneys to make sure we have the appropriate legal language when we talk about and offer the product. I also work with a consultant who specializes in Risk Management, which is determining based on a person's credit history whether or not they are more or less likely to not pay the loan back. Determining what percentage of people will pay back the loan is key to determining how to charge each person for the loan (the "interest rate"). The higher the "risk", the higher the rate we have to charge to make sure we can cover people who don't pay the loan back. To learn about risk, I read articles and analyses on Risk Management. Finally, I need to present the plan of how we are creating and marketing the product to the company CEO and the Board of Directors.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is planning out how we are going to create the product, and then actually doing it. Once the product is "built", the fun part of the job (for me) begins - marketing the product through the Internet and other media to get students and their parents to "buy" the product - to apply for, get approved, and take out the loan.

The worst part of the job is dealing with the legal constraints in terms of describing the product or how the loan works. It hampers how creatively we can market the product.

Job Tips:
1. Find a mentor or someone in the marketing or Internet industry to talk to. They can give great, hands on career advice.

2. Be willing to take a step back to get into the field you're interested in as an entry level.

3. The Internet is a terrific resource. Search Google for "Student Loans" and see what comes up, read about the industry in Wikipedia, check out blogs by people who work in the industry.

Additional Thoughts: Don't go into the Student Loan industry right now. With the recently passed College Cost Reduction Act, the Government wants to get companies out of the business, whch is why our company has recently closed.

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