“It’s been a constant thrill getting to uplevel every aspect of my professional life.”
When Emily Childers first joined Credit Karma, she was taking on her first full-time marketing job after building a career in project management and operations. About six-and-a-half years later, Childers’ trajectory at the fintech company has taken her to heights she never imagined for herself.
A MULTIFACETED JOURNEY
Emily Childers first joined Credit Karma as an individual contributor managing revenue email before becoming head of marketing for credit cards, Credit Karma’s largest line of business. Now, Childers works as general manager of personal loans. “Credit Karma has given me so many opportunities,” she told Built In.
“Our leaders have prioritized upleveling the existing team over finding external talent, and I’ve directly benefited in multiple instances,” she said. Those opportunities included directly building her own team — which she calls a “huge unlock” both personally and professionally — and managing an eight-figure media budget while running television advertising campaigns for card and loan products from inception to national buys.
For Childers, the key to her career growth has been investing in her own development and staying deeply engaged in the exploration of new possibilities for herself.
“I have tried to follow interesting problems and keep learning, focusing more on growing myself and my impact than my title,” she said.
“I follow interesting problems and keep learning, focusing on growing myself and my impact.”
Built In spoke with Childers about her career path, how she supports growth for her team and what she sees as next on her journey.
How does working for Credit Karma help you make progress toward your career goals?
Credit Karma has been an incredible place to build a career. They’ve given me massive stretch opportunities — like asking me to be head of marketing for credit cards, our largest vertical, while I was pregnant with my son, who is now four. It was really motivating to see the leadership team take a leap of faith on someone only a few years into marketing who was also about to be a first-time mom.
Beyond all of the amazing stretch opportunities, Credit Karma also offers a host of benefits to help employees grow professionally, like $5,000 of professional development funds, Credit Karma University internal courses, employee resource groups and mentorship programs. And I’ve taken advantage of them all!
What makes Credit Karma a unique place to work?
Credit Karma has the heart of a startup. We really do live our values of helpfulness, ownership, progress and empathy. The people who take a lot of ownership over their work to drive impact and progress really are rewarded.
“The people who take a lot of ownership over their work to drive impact and progress really are rewarded.”
Early in my time at Credit Karma, I partnered with our PR and editorial teams to run a debt-loss challenge for our members. The editorial team put together the challenge, I scraped together a webpage, tracking and an email program, and PR helped us get it out to the masses. Over 400,000 members engaged with the program, and 30,000 joined the challenge. What started out as a crazy idea between three individuals ended up having a big impact on our members. After the results were in, I was then asked to present the project at a company all-hands meeting in front of 1,000 people.
Describe some of the skills you’ve learned in your professional growth at Credit Karma.
The question really is: What skills haven’t I learned? From boosting my presentation skills to going from first-time people management to leading an organization of more than 80 people, it’s been a constant thrill getting to uplevel every aspect of my professional life.
The broadest skill that I’m still learning to flex is to zoom in and out to the right altitude. I remember sitting in a room with senior executives talking about the literal bugs in our email system and their eyes were glazing over. It wasn’t until I zoomed out to the 30,000-foot view of what we were trying to build that they started to engage and get excited about what we were doing.
What professional development tools and resources have you utilized?
Like I mentioned before, I’ve leveraged just about all of our tools and resources. From my first year where I signed up for just about every Credit Karma University class available to me to the past year where I used my professional development budget to work with a coach, I’ve found value in just about all of our programs.
Tools and resources are only helpful if you use them, and I have tried to leverage every opportunity provided. Never be too cool to try — participating opens doors.
“Never be too cool to try — participating opens doors.”
How are managers involved in the career development of direct reports?
I tell my team that no one should care more about your career than you do: Put in the work and ask for what you want. That said, your manager should be next in line. At Credit Karma, we equip our managers with tools, training and skills to help employees evolve and grow. We’ve tried to foster a culture of direct feedback, even bringing Kim Scott to a company all-hands to talk about her “Radical Candor” framework. Be direct and take action while caring personally.
My perspective as a leader is that a team’s success is defined by the people on it. By upleveling individuals and giving them the space to grow and learn, the whole team wins. I attribute almost all of my personal success at Credit Karma to the incredible people I’ve had the privilege of hiring and managing.
What are you excited to accomplish next?
There’s always a next, isn’t there? Right now, I’m really excited to sink my teeth into leading a line of business as GM of personal loans. It’s stretching me in new ways, building skills in partnerships and products that I haven’t had the opportunity to learn before.
More broadly, I’m also looking forward to becoming part of a larger community: I have a goal in the next five years to join a board and help solve problems outside of my day-to-day job to support a nonprofit in addressing one of the causes I am passionate about.