Authentic First Connections Help Careers Soar at Pinwheel

Commercial Counsel Mara Berman didn’t see one green flag after accepting her role at Pinwheel — she saw several. Those initial connections have helped her thrive in her career.

Written by Tyler Holmes
Published on Mar. 21, 2023
Authentic First Connections Help Careers Soar at Pinwheel
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Before showing up for her first day on the job, Mara Berman’s experience at Pinwheel had already been set in motion. It wasn’t because of a previous encounter with the company’s payroll API product or a marketing campaign — it was a simple gesture from the team after signing her offer letter.

“I received a terrarium-building kit that included tiny succulents and other items on my doorstep shortly after accepting,” Berman said. “Fellow Pinwheelhers (the women at Pinwheel employee resource group) invited me to their November Zoom meeting where we would be creating the little projects together.”

Berman said she was nervous at first to jump right into a group setting with no prior connections to rely on, but the offer felt genuine, so she decided to take the chance and attend.

“Everyone was so welcoming and friendly,” she recalled. “As of today, my little terrarium is very healthy and the succulents are thriving.”

 

WHAT DOES PINWHEEL DO?

Pinwheel provides an API for payroll connectivity that helps financial institutions, banking and lending apps provide better customer experiences. Clients rely on Pinwheel’s access to real-time income and employment data to help end users switch direct deposits, manage taxes, project earnings and verify data. “I work closely with sales and other internal stakeholders to make sure that contracts accurately reflect business arrangements, and that Pinwheel is protected for the long term,” Berman said.

 

Like her terrarium, Berman’s professional experience has only continued to thrive after signing on board with the leading API for payroll connectivity. As a remote-first employee, her onboarding experience included meeting with her manager daily and receiving words of encouragement, building authentic connections with people across the company, and learning about the business.

“It was refreshing that he cared so much about me feeling comfortable and did not pressure me to take on too much responsibility too quickly,” she said.

Now, as the third attorney in Pinwheel’s legal department, Berman’s main responsibilities as commercial counsel are to provide legal and contracting support to Pinwheel’s commercial team — which mainly involves drafting and negotiating agreements with Pinwheel’s business partners and customers. It also includes researching legal questions for the business and advising on various topics ranging from data retention and privacy matters to deal structure, pricing and anything else people want to know.

“Every experience, no matter how small, leads in some manner to professional growth at Pinwheel.”

 

A group of employees at the New York Stock Exchange.
PINWHEEL

 

What pleasantly surprised you after you joined?

I was surprised and delighted to learn that the entire Pinwheel team meets weekly for a brief company update and check-in. The meeting starts off with a fun, energetic and sometimes nostalgic song, and then Zoom pops us into small breakout groups for a few minutes to talk with each other based on two prompts.

New employees are welcomed, and anniversaries and birthdays are celebrated. Shoutouts and recognition for the past week are also highlighted. It’s a fun, fast way to start the week and sets the right tone. Most importantly, this weekly meeting helps employees across the country and functional groups get to know each other better.

 

I felt welcomed, appreciated, safe and included in every activity and session during the two-day event.

 

When did you know you made the right choice in joining Pinwheel?

The week I started my new job just happened to be the week that Pinwheel held a companywide in-person gathering and holiday party in New York City. I knew I made the right choice about Pinwheel when I arrived at the hotel after a long travel day from California and met Jen, my new colleague and teammate. She arranged for us to go to a “NYC Women in Fintech” event at the New York Stock Exchange and within minutes of checking into the hotel, we hopped on the subway and headed to Wall Street together.

Jen introduced me to several people at the event and I was thrilled to be there. Later we went to a fun restaurant with other Pinwheelies and it felt like I had known everyone for years. The next few days in NYC with the entire team hammered it home. I felt welcomed, appreciated, safe and included in every activity and session during the two-day event.

 

A group of employees pose during a group activity.
PINWHEEL

 

How have you hit the ground running since you joined and what are you most excited to accomplish over the next year?

I hit the ground running by shadowing colleagues, regularly connecting with my manager, meeting with people across Pinwheel to learn about what they do, and taking on a few projects of my own. I’ve also made sure to read anything and everything about what we do and how we do it.

I’ve had the opportunity to take the lead on two key customer contracts, and I’m excited to complete those negotiations and finalize the agreements. The most rewarding part will be watching those signed contracts translate into real and measurable impact to Pinwheel’s customers and consumers — and ultimately to Pinwheel’s growth in 2023.

 

The most rewarding part will be watching those signed contracts translate into real and measurable impact to Pinwheel’s customers and consumers.

 

What aspect of your professional growth are you most excited to evolve?

I’m most excited to help Pinwheel continue to grow and build momentum with banks and fintech companies in order to help more consumers gain access to financial services. In doing so, I know I will continue to develop my experiences as a business professional and lawyer.

I’m eager to gain expertise in regulatory and privacy matters that are relevant to Pinwheel, learning how to effectively advise all areas of the business as well as executives and board members, building the right teams, and contributing anywhere I’m needed.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Photos via Pinwheel.

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