A Closer Look: Martina Schubert

September 17, 2020
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This article was originally published in Business Record.

About Martina

Age: 52
Family: Husband David Schubert, four children, five grandchildren (and one on the way)
Education: Associate’s degree, Des Moines Area Community College; bachelor’s, Iowa State University; executive MBA, University of Iowa
Activities: Avid cyclist; member of the Velorosa Cycling Team
Contact: mschubert@lenderclose.com

As the first chief technology officer at LenderClose, Martina Schubert is ready for the challenge of a growing fintech startup and lending platform.“In the business world, sometimes it’s very complicated and hard to move fast, and in the IT space that’s what you always want to do. There’s usually barriers,” Schubert said. “We don’t have those barriers here, and I get to figure out how we can make [things] happen, which I thought would be really fun.”Schubert began her career as a developer and worked her way up. Before joining LenderClose, she was the chief technology officer of DLL Financial Solutions from 2019 to 2020, vice president and chief information officer at Continental Western Group, and worked at Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance, Blyth Inc. and Walgreens.

What attracted you to this role at LenderClose?

I have been involved for a few years with the Global Insurance Accelerator here in Des Moines, and mentoring people in that capacity -- startups trying to find their way. There’s a group of executives that are regular mentors in that program. It always kind of excited me to be involved with them, because it’s so fun to be inspired by their opportunities and what they have. When I met Omar [Jordan, CEO] and Ben [Rempe, COO], it was just so inspiring hearing their story.We met for coffee and they wanted to collaborate on a few things. I was so interested in finding out more, and it just really got me excited. When Omar showed me his business plan and we talked about their need for a chief technology officer, I thought, “You know, I want to retire in the next 10 years, and this is a really great opportunity for me to get to start something from the ground up.”

As the first CTO of the company, what are some of the goals you and the leadership team have for LenderClose?

We have such a fantastic culture, and it’s exciting to work at a startup. I really want to be able to put a little bit of framework around that, so that the teams can thrive and move forward in a very quick manner, and have our development cycle be crisp and high-quality and very fast.Everybody wants to be able to do things fast, and be able to deliver things fast. It would be my goal that we can do that so fast that our product people can’t keep up with us, so to speak. We can really become a product-based company, focusing on our product and what we need to deliver in that whole delivery cycle.I don’t want to put processes in place, I want to put value in place. I want to put value that actually leads us to delivering more products. There are so many times that people put so many processes in place that start weighing down, and if that piece is not providing value, then let’s not do it. We need to hold each other accountable for that.I also want to empower others to make their own decisions. There’s so many people that talk about [how] they do agile, they do scrum and all these things, but the real goal and objective is to be a product-based company that can move really fast and have high-quality delivery.

How has the pandemic affected your customers?

There’s an awareness for the need for things to be even more automated than they used to be. There were certain groups of customers [where] it could be very hard for them to get there.We value having our teams near each other because we know that’s how we can get delivery of our best products, but that’s not always feasible. Right now we can’t force people to come into our offices -- it’s not safe for all of those things. People [are] really understanding the value of automation, like with our RON [Remote Online Notarization] product. That’s one of the first times legislation has actually allowed people to use that, which is a huge thing. It’s recognized how important that is for us to be able to do some of these things online, which haven’t been even legally available before.We’re smart, we’re open to it and we absolutely have a visionary person leading our team, which is Omar. He really does have a good grasp on the lending space, and the kind of things that can make loan officers’ lives easier, and can help them do their jobs more effectively.

What’s the best piece of advice or feedback you’ve received during your career?

It’s been such an evolution for me to be able to really focus on the value of diversity, the value of listening, and really, allowing others to take the lead, [which] when you’re a leader is a really important thing to be able to do. I haven’t always been in a spot where that’s been easy because of the demands that other leadership had put on me. But when I can empower others and help to drive faster, it obviously meets all of my needs, and it meets their needs. That’s pretty near and dear to my heart. My mom was a factory worker, so she wasn’t somebody who was in the business world, but she said, “Make decisions in your career to do things that you love to do, and have fun.” If you make [decisions] on that, it will always lead you in the right direction.  I’ve pretty much done that my entire career, and then always got lucky that it pointed me in the right direction.

Can you describe your management style?

I ask a lot of questions, because I really do have to understand the ins and outs of what is occurring, the reasons we got [to] where we are -- what decisions we made and why we made those decisions. It really does help me kind of figure out how people think through problems themselves. I love surrounding myself with people who love to challenge me and are not afraid to challenge me.It always matters to me that I’m communicating to everybody on my team in the company in a productive manner, and so getting feedback from others is essential to that because I’m human. I don’t do everything perfectly, and I sometimes am giving a message that isn’t what I meant to give, so getting feedback on that is really important to me as a leader.I’m also very technical, so I love being involved in the technical weeds. [But] I’m OK with somebody on my team saying, “You need to bug out and let us do this.”  I don’t know if [my] asking questions of people sometimes makes them feel like I’m questioning what they’re doing -- it’s really just my way of learning. I’m very hands-off, and I love to empower people and trust them.

What have you been reading/watching/listening to lately?

I’ve been really trying to look at everything from everybody’s perspective and not from mine, because I only have mine currently. Even just the words “Black Lives Matter” and how impactful they are to the people that use them -- I really didn’t understand them until people started explaining why it mattered.It’s just amazing how this has all kind of opened my eyes to thinking about things differently, which is wonderful. I’m so happy for myself that it’s happening, because I did not know how much tunnel vision I had, to be honest. Michelle Obama’s book “Becoming,” I’ve been listening to recently. Her insights are pretty amazing, in my opinion, and I just never really enjoyed her perspective on life in general and being in the White House, the kind of things she dealt with.

Will those perspectives influence the way you approach work at LenderClose now?

Absolutely. Life-altering things, like this, even being in a pandemic  I didn’t really think about how much the environment somebody works in really matters to how they can perform, but it absolutely does.I was so naive to think that didn’t matter, and to some people it really makes a huge difference in their day and how they can perform. It all goes back to the people. People really do matter a whole lot, and how they feel matters a whole lot in their performance.

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