Faces of Nelnet: Alan Ishida, Regional Director, Nelnet Partner Solutions (AK, CO, Guam, HI, IA, WV, WI)
Dawn Knight: What is your main focus right now? I know you’re on some projects for Nelnet; can you give me some insight on those?
Alan Ishida: I am working to reach out to all of my new schools to introduce myself and make sure that they are aware of my being their designated Nelnet representative and the many resources available to them from Nelnet. At the same time, I work to strike a balance with keeping in communication with my current school customers.
It is imperative that Nelnet is aware of and able to provide solutions for the financial aid community. Although we are in regular communication with our customers, we need to think of other ways to obtain feedback from schools. Specifically, we need to engage schools when and how it is most convenient for them. As a result, I have been working with other team members to create opportunities for financial aid personnel to provide Nelnet feedback; not only with regard to how we are doing, but how we can improve and/or make their jobs easier. We have recently created questionnaires that our school customers can complete online at www.nelnetloanservicing.com and by paper or via iPad at conferences.
The other project that I am involved with is creation of a loan servicing portfolio report that we will push to schools on a quarterly basis. Nelnet’s objective is to proactively provide our customers with a snapshot of how much loan volume we are servicing for borrowers who are attending or attended their institution, and break that figure down in to specific status buckets. Such information will be represented not only through text, but graphically.
Dawn: Have you had any memorable moments over the past year work-wise that you’d like to share?
Alan: I am very proud to be a member of our Partner Solutions team and to work for such a great company that strives to do the right thing while working toward a goal of being the best service provider in the industry. We are challenged with creating relationships with thousands of new schools whom we did not have an opportunity to work with in FFELP. I do not have a particular moment over the past year that stands out as memorable, rather the challenge in general of adapting to the changing environment remains exciting as it allows for creativity and opportunity.
Dawn: What do you see as the biggest challenge schools are facing right now?
Alan: I regularly hear from school customers the concern with regard to the additional servicers that will be coming on board. They do not understand the need for more players and are concerned with how many more entities with whom they will have to work. Considering that many schools are proactively working default prevention programs and access servicer proprietary reporting systems, this simply puts more on their plate to manage that process.
Dawn: What is your best recent read or CD you’ve purchased?
Alan: I recently read the Stieg Larsson Millenium Trilogy: The Girl With the DragonTattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Although I did not care for the movies that were created from the first two, the books were great!
Dawn: Who has been your Work / Life mentor throughout the years and why?
Alan: Without a doubt, George Durstine – a gentleman who many in our industry know. I began working with George while he was at Bank One in Texas and I was with Unipac, a third-party servicer that eventually became part of Nelnet. Although I had been working directly with schools for a number of years, George taught me what it meant to truly provide service at the highest levels. He went out of his way to teach me what he had learned that made him so successful and taught me how to enjoy the job in the process. I owe him a lot for where I am today.
Dawn: What was the most recent meal you cooked that turned out awful?
Alan: I would have to say a meatloaf that I cooked for my wife and kids. I was excited to try my hand at cooking one of my favorite dishes but got over zealous with the spices. If we had a dog, I am confident that he/she would have turned their nose up at it, and I think the kids ended up eating cereal.