Humans of Lob is a project dedicated to getting to know our Lobsters on an individual level. For our eleventh entry, we sat down with our Senior Partner Manager, Mariella Torres.
Let's go back to your beginnings here on this planet. That's how it's phrased. Where were you born?
I was born in Burlington, Vermont. It is the largest city in Vermont, but it's still a very small town. My dad is Peruvian and my mom grew up in Vermont. Growing up I would split my time between a small Green Mountain State and then Cusco, Peru. It was amazing to have both views. It was very culturally different between the two. As a kid it was hard, you kind of just want to fit in. I didn't want to go to Peru and eat all the “strange food” that was in Peru. Now as an adult, I look back on that as something that truly formulated who I am as a person today. It’s one of the reasons I found my path towards supply chain & operations and working internationally. It definitely fueled my love for travel, understanding people and cultures, and celebrating people's differences.
How did Lob come into your life? And why did you choose Lob?
It’s very woven into my career story! My undergrad degree was focused in Political Science and Spanish. My degree was mainly focused on international development, again, going back to my roots and what's important to me. I moved to Washington, DC and was working in a law firm and thought that I wanted to go to law school for international relations. Then I quickly found out it was just a bit too cut and dry for me. So I wanted to go back to school, but I wanted some more tangible skills. I went back to school and got my MBA with a focus on sustainability. I had the opportunity to work with a carbon offsets company, and worked for them in Ghana.
I had always wanted to live on the West Coast, so I moved to California. I did a road trip by myself for a month to California. I do this a lot where I kind of like to take leaps of faith so I had no job lined up and I just kind of moved and I started working at Pottery Barn in their supply chain. They're merchants and not every home decor company designs their products. But Pottery Barn does, so there's a lot of work with overseas vendors. From there I learned I love supply chain and operations. But being in San Francisco, it felt like a disservice to not be in the tech scene. I was just so intrigued by what all of my friends were doing, and the innovation behind startup life.
I knew that I really wanted to work in tech. I was trying to figure out a way to bridge that gap between physical product and tech. I actually ended up moving to London for a little while, and was there. Basically, like, just like looking to do some sustainability work. Then COVID hit but it all ended up being serendipitous because I was good friends with someone who worked at Lob. She turned me on to Lob and working for a tech company that has a physical product was the perfect fit for me. I could pair my supply chain and operations as well as my desire to work for a tech company.
In my career path in general the main thing to keep focused on is making decisions that are aligned with your values. As long as you continue to do that, even if it doesn't work out, for whatever reason, you always end up learning something. That hasn't steered me wrong yet!
What do you work at Lob?
I'm a Senior Partner Manager. What that means is we have a network of print partners. There's a lot of integration and daily operations work that happens with them, so I was managing five or six of our print partners. But around May, I transitioned into an internal ops role in which I am like the outward facing person for Customer Service and Customer Experience, like all of our revenue work. I work very closely on anything that involves any incidents that occur, and it involves multiple groups of people. Because a lot of times, we'll have multiple partners involved in any one thing, and there's just too many cooks in the kitchen. So having one point of contact. I also work on strategic initiatives. I worked with it on a lab database. So I was like, giving them information just like the partner team and like a lot of the questions that we get, because we're kind of like gatekeepers to like our actual physical product. So we have a lot of the information on, on like, quality on, on delays on like, just all that information that's crucial for CS and CX, as well as our customers. I'm kind of a Jill of all trades!
My role is specifically also to make sure that when we are having ads, there's a lot of assets in our team. And so when they are coming through that we have all of the relevant information so that I can give it to the person who needs to do it so that they can quickly take action on it. All the questions have been answered. One of our main quotes on our team is ‘trust, but verify’. Making sure that any requests that's coming through, especially like quality issues that a customer is calling out that we've verified.
What's a project you've really enjoyed doing at Lob?
I have my MBA that's focused on sustainability. I have really enjoyed working with Christina on the Lob.com side. In the last year, we worked on a materiality assessment, which was with some consultants. We went through interviewing consultants to make sure that wherever we were going to be focusing our sustainability efforts that it was the most material. We were looking at all of our stakeholders, looking at market competitors, all that type of information, and then from there informed where we were going to be moving. We've recently decided that we want Lob to be the most sustainable direct mail offering out there. We've hired consultants to run an assessment on all of our products.
Who is the most influential person at Lob for you?
Tyler Dornenburg, my manager, hands down. He would blush if he heard me say this, but he’s hands down the best manager I've ever had. Whether he likes it or not, he's going to be a mentor to me for life! He's taught me so much on how to break down complex issues, how to formulate ideas, and truly connect the dots. He's always thinking about how things can be optimized, how we can improve, how we can influence our work. He asks me tough questions, and helps push to get a better outcome together. He’s also just the best human. He's really loud, funny, and knows everything about everything. He’s been an awesome champion for me as well and really set the tone for the culture of the team.
What does your name mean? And why was it given to you?
It doesn't have any specific meaning, but when my mom was pregnant, my dad had a vivid dream that his guardian angel was named Mariella. As the firstborn he felt like it needed to be my name. It was really powerful to him. So they named me Mariella! My mom actually named my middle name, which is Megan, because I'm the oldest and so it was the first time she was going through pregnancy. She felt strongly that the people who you're surrounded with and who are helping you along the way are important. The delivery nurse was her absolute favorite. Her name was Megan. I wonder how many delivery nurses out there get the children named after them. So, I’m Marilla Megan Torres.
What's a scent that makes you feel nostalgic?
Pine needles, because I'm from Vermont. It reminds me of the holiday season and wandering through a winter morning with fresh snow, snowshoeing, and all the pine needles that you're surrounded by!
If you could live in any city, where would it be and why?
Any city? Oh, gosh. Well, I've never been to Italy, but there are all of these very small towns that are looking to financially incentivize young people to move there because they have an aging population. I think it'd be really incredible to go to one of those towns and basically become like everyone's grandchild, and have the old women teach you how to make pasta and you could work remotely but be really embedded in the community. I think that as I get older, and I appreciate time and people's time, I just think that the elderly are just so cool. Kind of like a slower life as well, there's just so much you can learn from different generations.
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