Sagent Standouts: Vivek Rai
In this series, we’re focused on the humans who make up Sagent. We’re fortunate to have a team that is constantly evolving – both professionally and personally – folks from all over the world who bring a variety of experience, education, and perspectives to advance our challenging mission. We’re excited to introduce you to some of these talented people who make Sagent a vibrant, productive community.
Cricketer, father, engineer, globetrotter… Vivek Rai brings a LOT of experience to the table, and he makes it relevant by providing leadership for his team as they blaze a path into the cloud for the servicing industry. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he has many years of experience in the banking technology sector, 6 of which have been in servicing fintech with Mr. Cooper. So, he is an ideal subject for the latest edition of Sagent Standouts. Let’s dive in!
I’d like to start by learning more about you, your family, pets, where you’re based — anything like that you want to share.
I live in Dallas with my wife and our 2 children. We’ve been married for 9 years, and our son Rudra is 4 ½ years old and daughter Saanvi is 2. They are a handful, so thank God they both go to daycare, otherwise, we cannot work. My wife Khushboo works for Toyota, and she just got her first patent last month.
Oh, that’s very impressive! What does she do, and where did you two meet?
She is a product owner for one of the features they use. She was my sister’s friend, and my sister introduced us while I lived in China. I moved back to India shortly after that in 2014, and we got married later that year before we moved to the US.
Where did you grow up?
My dad had a transferable job, so I moved to multiple parts of India. Then my first job after university was as a software developer with Infosys, and I worked with them for almost 7 years in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, then China. After that, I moved back to India, got married to my wife, then moved to the US, and have been here since.
Via LinkedIn, I see that you went to JP Morgan Chase after Infosys?
When I came to the US. I worked as a contractor for 2 years, 1 year with Chase in their credit card division, 1 year with SATO, which is one of the biggest RFID solution providers in the world. Then I worked as a contractor for Mr. Cooper for a year, then joined full time and I’ve been with Mr. Cooper since before being acquired by Sagent.
Was Mr. Cooper your first brush with mortgage fintech?
Yes, Mr. Cooper was my first experience with mortgage. But for Chase, it was working with credit cards, and for Fidelity, it was defined benefits and defined contributions, so the whole banking culture, atmosphere, corporate structure, the expectations were already ingrained in my experience, so it was an easy transition.
So what have you been doing at Mr. Cooper for the last 6-ish years?
Yes, so at Mr. Cooper I was in the default servicing area working on applications including iClaims, which is used to package and claim all the invoices from the investors when a loan is in default. I worked with iAssist as well, which is one of our customer-facing applications.
I think that’s some of the technology that’s come from Mr. Cooper to Sagent. So tell me about your experience during the transition from Mr. Cooper to Sagent.
It’s a big deal what we are trying to implement. Having the end-to-end solution where you can board a loan, service it, package it for investors… it’s a very novel solution and will be a game changer, so it really excites me about what we are doing.
The transition though has been tricky. A lot of our systems had to be moved from Mr. Cooper to Sagent, figuring out what the architecture of the cloud will look like, and how the teams and the work will transition, but it hasn’t been bad. During the TSA and first few months with Sagent I have been really impressed with how Sagent takes care of their employees.
Me too! I’m glad you mentioned your work on the cloud because we talk a lot about “the cloud is the future” but we often forget to say why. Can you give me your take on that?
Yeah, so it’s just a matter of time until the whole world moves on the cloud. The ability to scale, maintain updates, connect to SaaS, compliance and disaster recovery is taken care of — and you don’t need to build stuff from scratch… the cloud enables you to go from any point to any point very quickly. We took iClaims from on-prem to Azure in 2021, and I can tell you it’s a no-brainer that it’s the future for our industry.
I’m glad we have your experience and perspective on the team. What you’re doing is incredibly important for Sagent, but I’d like to find out more about what makes you tick… hobbies, and interests, plus we didn’t talk about pets… do you have any?
I’m an avid sportsman. I like to play all sports, and I’ve been a competitive cricketer all my life. I’m the captain of my team JPC which won 2 Division A trophies in the Dallas Cricket League. I also captained my team in the Houston Open and played in LA Open. It’s one of the reasons I love Dallas… there’s so much cricket here, new stadiums, local competitive leagues, international leagues starting now— I never thought there’d be so much cricket in the US. And my wife likes it here because of the weather, so that works out.
Growing up I always had a dog, now I really want a pet but my wife will not let me – I’ve been trying to convince her for years. Hopefully, a few years down the line, when the kids are more grown, we’ll get a dog.
Have you had an impactful mentoring experience, either giving or receiving?
I would say Google is my biggest mentor. One of the best skills you can have that you can carry throughout your life is being a good student. You have to keep learning. The world is changing, the way we consume technology is changing, so whatever we are doing will be obsolete soon. If you’re not able to stay on top of the world that’s changing you’ll always feel obsolete, so it’s important to keep learning.
I love that answer, and it makes me want to know what you think of emerging tech such as ChatGPT.
I use ChatGPT a lot and I love it. And I just registered for Google Bard today. When you’re looking for some reference in a field you know nothing about, ChatGPT offers concise information in a short paragraph that you can consume, as opposed to a reference to a site that Google thinks relates closely or generates ad revenue. Comparing the two, in a few scenarios ChatGPT’s solutions are way better and smarter than Google’s.
When you think about Sagent’s values of Relentless, Reliable, Relevant, which of those resonates with you most?
I would say “Reliable.” There’ve been multiple instances where something comes up in a project and we didn’t know what was the best strategy, and my manager said ‘Let’s give it to Vivek,’ because the team knows they can rely on me to handle anything I’m given.
I’m glad you bring that to our culture at Sagent, and I’m curious if you have any other thoughts on Sagent’s culture.
I’ve traveled a lot and I feel like an outsider everywhere, which gives me a perspective on things that are seen as normal, acceptable, attractive — or not… and it’s important in business, or any organization, or geographically, to understand and accept whatever you see, then carve out a place to be part of where you are. It’s the same thing coming to Sagent, there’s a transition to accept it, move along with it, and build it. And it’s been a great experience.
As always, we asked one of Vivek’s colleagues to tell us a little about him, so Alex Haitz, Sr. Director, Product Engineering, shared this:
Vivek is a true jack of all trades when it comes to software development. He has a broad range of technical expertise, including programming languages, frameworks, and databases. But his technical skills are just the tip of the iceberg… Vivek is a talented leader — with extensive mortgage-servicing knowledge — whom people want to work with.