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Open Book: Alisha Thurston, Director of Mortgage Ops

Reading Time — 5 minutes

February 4, 2021

By Opendoor Team

Reading Time — 5 minutes

February 4, 2021

Open Book is a series of interviews for you to get to know the incredible people of Opendoor. After two decades in the mortgage industry, Alisha wanted to expand on her knowledge and help build an incredible customer experience. Here’s what led her to Opendoor and how the Mortgage Operations team is empowering customers every day.

Hi Alisha! Can you tell us a bit about what you do at Opendoor?

People often think of using Opendoor as a way to buy or sell their home, but we also help people finance their homes, and that’s what my work is all about. As Director of Mortgage Operations, I oversee the teams who assist the customer in the financial transaction from rate lock to loan approval to closing of their new loan.

The process of simultaneously selling one home and buying another can be incredibly stressful, and a big part of my team’s role is focused on creating a seamless and stress-free experience for our customers.

You had nearly two decades of experience in the mortgage industry before joining Opendoor. How did you hear about Opendoor, and what inspired you to join the team?

I always worked for large companies, and joining Opendoor was an exciting change of pace for me. I knew Nadia Aziz—who is now my manager and the GM of Opendoor Home Loans—from a previous company, and she reached out to me. At the time, she had been at Opendoor for a few weeks and asked me about my interest in building a mortgage company. She described the opportunity as a unique whiteboard space, and I felt instantly excited about the opportunity to use my existing knowledge to focus more on the overall customer experience.

The Mortgage team at Opendoor started with just the two of us and in the beginning, we actually shared a desk! Growing the team and expanding our presence into a bigger space has been an amazing journey. Just two years later, Mortgage Operations has grown tremendously. I love that even with our growth, we still have endless opportunities to make a meaningful impact for people during their home buying journey, and that keeps me motivated every day.

Was there anything that surprised you when you joined the team?

From the moment I joined Opendoor, I was struck by the culture of openness. I remember joining my first all-hands meeting where our Leadership team presented the company’s financials to us. I remember looking around and thinking, “Should I be in this meeting?”

The transparency was an incredible shift from what I had experienced at other companies. And while we’re now a public company that can’t share as much financial detail as we have previously, I still truly appreciate how leadership ensures each person on the team feels empowered to share in our success. We’re all on the same page and have an important role to play in realizing Opendoor’s mission of empowering everyone with the freedom to move.

Reflecting on your time at Opendoor, is there a particular project or milestone that you’re especially proud of?

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, we were all faced with adapting to challenges no one expected. For the Mortgage Operations team, COVID-19 had a massive impact on our work with customers. This was a pivotal moment for us to come together and find new ways to innovate.

Working closely across teams and with support from leadership, it took us just four weeks to launch a new refinancing product that enabled us to help previous Opendoor customers lock in lower mortgage rates and save more money. I’m proud of our quick action and the meaningful impact we were able to make in a short period of time.

Your example highlights the importance of teamwork and close collaboration. What qualities or skills help a person thrive on your team? Do you have any advice for people who are interested in joining Mortgage Operations?

Opendoor has grown considerably during the time I’ve been here, but we still have the startup mentality. To thrive in an ever-changing industry, we need to be resilient and prepared to adapt to changes as they arise. Mortgage Operations is a close-knit team and we collaborate cross-functionally, so being a good communicator is key. It’s also helpful to be someone who can switch gears and tackle a new challenge as needed.

While people joined us from mortgage and finance industries early on, we’ve since expanded and hired people on our team with more diverse backgrounds from different industries, such as design. We’re happy to teach someone with a different background new skills, and we welcome diverse abilities and fresh perspectives. If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, love to learn, and want to make an impact, we’d love to have you on our team.

Your enthusiasm for empowering others shines through. What keeps you feeling inspired and motivated?

The last year has certainly been difficult, but my team and the work we do has been a consistent bright spot for me. Even on the toughest days, there’s been someone with a funny joke that makes us all laugh. Navigating the pandemic together and finding creative new ways to connect has been a bonding experience.

Outside of work, I spend most of my free time with my family. My husband and I have three daughters, and they usually keep us busy with soccer, dance, and their other extracurricular activities. We’re all looking forward to getting back into our normal routine sometime soon.

Interested in joining our team? Opendoor is hiring across all teams, including Opendoor Home Loans! Check out our current open positions!

Want to learn more about working at Opendoor? Check out our Design and Engineering and Data Science blogs.

Further reading

Open Book: Sherry Wang, Data Science Manager

Open Book: Sherry Wang, Data Science Manager