When Carrie Dolan first got a call about Lending Club, the online credit marketplace where she is now CFO, she didn’t know what to think.
“I hadn’t heard of the company,” she confesses.
Dolan had been at the top level in finance at Chevron and Charles Schwab, so the startup world seemed a leap. But Dolan, who will be the 2016 Berkeley MBA commencement speaker, took a hard look at what she could both learn from and give to the company and decided to take the risk.
“Folks kind of thought I was a little nuts,” she says. “But I was very intrigued with the business model. All of these pieces of my past felt like they were being put together differently.”
Of course, Lending Club was successful—Dolan helped take it public in 2014 in one of the top internet IPOs to date. “In my gut I knew we had the ability to be very disruptive over time,” she says. As of the end of the fourth quarter in 2015, the market-place lending company, which allows individual investors to match up with people requesting loans, had facilitated $16 billion in consumer loans since it began operating in 2007. Operating revenue in the fourth quarter of 2015 was $134.5 million, up 93 percent year-over-year.
Given her successes, Dolan has made a name for herself in the financial world. In 2015, she was named one of the most powerful women in finance by American Banker and the Financial Woman of the Year by the Financial Women of San Francisco.
For Dolan, joining Lending Club was the kind of sensible risk-taking that she hopes students today will be able to learn. “We often are very afraid to fail. I think the way that you learn is through trying things,” she says.
A third-generation Bay Area native, Dolan is the only one in a family full of Stanford graduates to have chosen a different path. “I kind of bucked the trend to go to Berkeley,” she says with a laugh. She earned two Haas degrees: a BS in finance in 1987 and an MBA in 1997.
She spent several years at Chevron managing financial planning and analysis, management reporting, accounting, credit, and treasury. She also helped launch the Chevron Credit Bank, which offered proprietary credit cards, and served on its board of directors and as its CFO.
Subsequently, Dolan served as treasurer for the Charles Schwab Corporation and as the CFO for Schwab Bank, which she helped launch in 2003.
A self-confessed “data person,” Dolan says she also values the skills of communication and self-reflection, which she finds more valuable as her career continues. Self-awareness led her to push her boundaries and join Lending Club in the first place. “My experiences over the last five-and-a-half years have been incredible. It was a great decision that has pushed me to learn and grow in so many ways.”