How SoFi’s Internal Mobility Programs Create a Career Playground for Its Team

Across departments and roles, SoFi is committed to employee growth and internal mobility. Built In heard from employees across the company whose careers have been shaped by this commitment to agility and advancement.

Written by Brigid Hogan
Published on Apr. 05, 2024
How SoFi’s Internal Mobility Programs Create a Career Playground for Its Team
Image: SoFi
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The traditional career ladder — following a clear, vertical trajectory from role to role — is no longer the norm. An array of research indicates that most professionals today will explore a variety of roles with shifting levels of seniority, stability and mobility over the course of their careers. 

Instead of a ladder, a “career playground,” according to a recent Microsoft blog post, may be a more apt symbol as people move away from linear career journeys.

“Organizations need to recognize and celebrate the fact that people don’t want to be pigeonholed,” said Abigail Sellen, deputy director of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, England.

At SoFi, an array of talent programs have been developed with agility at the center, reflecting the company’s values of “learn, innovate and iterate” while supporting an individual’s interest in navigating the sometimes surprising opportunities within the organization.

As the company enters 2024, SoFi plans to significantly expand the number of roles filled internally — enabling the team to explore a rich career playground without leaving the team. By embracing the momentum of employee growth, SoFi has built a high-energy and supportive network of internal advancement.

“Ultimately, we want to cultivate a culture of internal mobility where open roles are shared, leaders are recognized for encouraging internal movement and we are prioritizing internal talent,” said Internal Mobility Manager Carley Henning. “We want SoFi to be a long-term career destination where our employees can do their best work, develop professionally and reach their full potential.”

We want to cultivate a culture of internal mobility where open roles are shared, leaders are recognized for encouraging internal movement and we are prioritizing internal talent.”

 

This ambitious focus on internal mobility is powered by tools like the Career Pathway Library, which allows employees to think about movement both within and outside their current departments.

According to Henning, the Career Pathway Library offers employees insights into what other teams do, who within that team is valuable to network with and what specific training would position them as an ideal candidate for future opportunities.

The networking element has become particularly important to support as the workforce has become increasingly hybrid, Henning added.

“You need a broad and diverse web of contacts to advance your career, and many remote workers find it much harder to build internal networks without those spontaneous hallway conversations,” she said. “This is a huge opportunity for us at SoFi, which is why we are building a community where peers can learn from each other and meet new colleagues who can help them drive their career.”
 

THE TOOLS POWERING INTERNAL MOBILITY AT SOFI

“We provide enablement, awareness and opportunities to network so team members have every opportunity to be a strong fit for open roles,” Henning said.

The tools making these opportunities possible include:

  • One-on-one career coaching calls: Internal recruiters have dedicated one-on-one calls throughout the year with employees interested in changing positions internally. These conversations can vary from tips to honing the target of their internal search to how to build an internal network and to how to develop an internal career resume. 
  • Awareness and communications: SoFi has developed an internal recruitment marketing strategy to keep employees updated on new opportunities and to provide best practices on navigating their internal search.
  • Career week: In 2024, the internal mobility and talent management teams are partnering to host a career week to help employees learn about internal networking, navigate the internal career journey and prepare for interviews.
  • Networking events: To address challenges presented by a hybrid environment, the internal mobility team is providing networking events that will allow employees the opportunity to learn more about other teams and build new relationships.

 

 A Culture of Learning: Stories of a Workforce in Motion

After joining SoFi as the Murray, Utah, office’s site leader in 2019, Madison Bliss quickly developed a passion for learning in her role. She learned to ask the right questions, identify when she needed support and to generally go with the flow. These skills became especially important as Bliss continued to develop her career and moved to the employee experience team, working to support new hire onboarding and internal recognition programs.

Over time in that role, Bliss had built strong relationships with the recruiting team, and she looked to them as the next step in her career. She reached out to the internal mobility team about forging a path as a recruiting coordinator. Together, they agreed the shift would be a great next move, and in September 2023, Bliss moved into a recruiting coordinator role.

“The internal mobility team has helped me move into a role that plays to my strengths and lets me do what I love,” Bliss said. “They’ve given me so much confidence to do my job and feel happy coming to work every day. The internal mobility team was super supportive and put me at ease during the interview process and transition phase of moving from my previous role into my new one.”

The internal mobility team has helped me move into a role that plays to my strengths and lets me do what I love.”

 

Like Bliss, Business Development Director Trevor Smith built strong relationships and a wide skill set in his initial role at SoFi before exploring a new opportunity at the organization.

After demonstrating his tenacity and ability to advance as a partner success manager, moving into a new role allowed Smith to become a more well-rounded professional and strengthen new aspects of his talents.

“This playbook provides me with a foundation for taking on the professional challenges that come my way,” Smith said. “I’m really proud of how the reputation I earned and relationships I built in my first role have continued to be assets for me.”

Smith is also confident that SoFi will continue to provide him with opportunities to grow.

“When I joined SoFi, a big focus was ‘company first, role second,’” he said. “I knew SoFi was the organization best aligned for my career and interests, and holding multiple positions would be the best way to learn the most and advance my career.”

Henning, too, highlighted the value of internal relationships on her own journey within SoFi, which began on the employee experience team before transitioning into internal mobility on the people team.

“Before moving into my new role, I tapped into my network,” she said. “I spoke with mentors, colleagues and managers where I asked candid questions, sought advice and explored potential avenues for progress.”

Thanks to SoFi’s culture of celebrating internal mobility and open-door approach to listening and offering advice, Henning found allies with both her employee experience manager, Chandra Kauffman, and her new manager on the people team, Ashley Core.

“Chandra was a huge advocate for me from the first time I brought up the possibility of a move, and Ashley was incredibly supportive when I transitioned to her team,” Henning said. “Ashley and my peers dedicated time and energy to ensure I had a successful onboarding experience. I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of a company that encourages exploration and offers countless opportunities to cultivate a fulfilling career.”

 

 SoFi
 SoFi

 

Leaders Propelling the Momentum

Beyond supporting internal moves for teammates like Henning, Head of Talent Acquisition Ashley Core has had her own growth journey since joining SoFi in 2019.

“We had three products and less than 1,000 full-time employees,” she said. “Since then, SoFi has added another ten products and quadrupled in size and, arguably, complexity. It has been an enriching experience to take over all of talent acquisition while building out additional functions such as talent brand, talent operations, internal mobility and more. I feel as if I have grown up with this company and add new skills to my tool kit on an almost daily basis.”

Over the course of her five years at SoFi, the strong team around her has supported Core each day and, within those relationships, she has seen how clear feedback helps keep everyone aligned and advancing. Her own manager, Chief People Officer Anna Avalos, has helped Core explore unexpected strengths in her own professional development by sharing and hearing feedback in each of their one-on-one meetings.

“Feedback feels the most safe when you are giving it with great intentions, and given our shared mission at SoFi, we have an anchor point to rally around in ensuring we all win so that the company and our members win,” she said.

The power of feedback is something Erica Hester takes to heart daily in her role as associate manager of communications escalations.

“During my team’s weekly development sessions, we discuss ways to maximize their current skill set and align it with their career goals to create a pathway to assist in achieving internal career advancement,” she said. “We also cover resume and interview skills to support them on their career journey.”

For Hester, sharing knowledge empowers her team to take ownership of their careers, and so she works to stay alert to the opportunities and resources available to them. One of the key tools she recommends helps employees tap into SoFi’s broader community, as well.

“I encourage my team to join SoFi Circle (Employee Resource Groups) (Employee Resource Groups) to ensure they take advantage of networking opportunities,” she said. “Networking with other business units truly helps support my team’s upward mobility.”

Director of Financial Intelligence Christina Ragsdale shares Hester’s commitment to supporting employee advancement — and the numbers show it. In 2023, she saw seven employees move from her organization to new internal roles and six employees join her team or transition to new roles within her organization.

By working closely with her team, having candid conversations about their aspirations and keeping supportive relationships at the center of how they collaborate, Ragsdale helps each employee develop a clear vision for their path ahead.

“We can whittle what we do down to human capital — numbers, widgets, quotas — but that does not embody SoFi’s value of helping people grow, which states that ‘people are our greatest differentiator,’” Ragsdale said. “They are not just numbers or lines on a spreadsheet — they are a person who is valued. Knowing that care and comradery openly exist drives all of us to be that much better the next day.”

Henning echoed Ragsdale’s focus on the value of helping people grow.

“At SoFi, our 11 company values are at the center of how we think about hiring people, how we evaluate our own performance and, most critically, how we work day-to-day together,” Henning said. “One of our values is ‘take care of people and help them grow,’ and since we know our people are our greatest differentiator, our internal mobility program is one way we support, develop and guide our employees so they can have the best careers of their lives at SoFi. It’s not just what we do, but how we do it.”

 

Sofi
SoFi

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by SoFi.

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