Sallie Mae’s Core Values Refresh: "Our Voice, Our Values"

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Sallie Mae’s Core Values Refresh: "Our Voice, Our Values" | Delivering Happiness


"Values are our North Star. They shape the way we work together, and with our customers." 


Your company's core values are more than words on a page. They are a way of life. They are the building blocks of your culture.


Do your organization's values still reflect the needs of your staff? 

Or worse, are they invisible?


Your existing values do not have to be static or set in stone. If they no longer resonate, a refresh might be in order. 

The senior leaders at Sallie Mae recognized this. They saw their values as their North Star. Revisiting and refreshing their existing values became a major priority because these would shape the way they work together, and with their customers going forward. 

Gallup reported that just 23% of U.S. employees strongly agree that they can apply their organization’s values to their work every day, and only 27% strongly agree that they “believe in” their organization’s values.

Culture Transformation


Founded in 1973, Sallie Mae began as a government entity offering federal education loans. In 2012, Sallie Mae went through a big shift, to become a private bank with a mission to help families save, plan, and pay for college. 


Today, with 1400 employees and 6 offices across the United States, Sallie Mae wanted to improve the following within its organization:

  • employee engagement
  • customer satisfaction
  • general brand awareness
  • brand loyalty

However, there were a few roadblocks in their way.


Executive leadership was not on board with a culture transformation. They needed buy-in for effectiveness.


Also, employees worked in silos, so there was a huge gap in communication


Their Values Leadership Team [VLT] decided there were 2 main areas they needed to focus on:

Values Refresh Their existing values were not being used, and many employees didn’t even know what they were. 
Launching & Living Values They needed to achieve alignment in order to actually live their values and feel them in action.

A New Partnership 


Bonnie Rumbold, Chief People Officer at Sallie Mae, was introduced to Delivering Happiness by the Fun Dept, a consulting partner of DH that creates innovative and fun solutions for happier, healthier, more connected companies. 


Sallie Mae saw a huge opportunity in joining forces with DH and the Fun Dept to create a values-based culture. They knew that by coming together, they could make a big impact in the company with a focus on internal employees as well as customers.


Bonnie was the executive champion who empowered the Values Leadership Team [VLT] to go through with this effort.


Check out DH and the Fun Dept in action with the Sallie Mae team!


Our Voice, Our Values


DH coach|sultants® Lotus Kelsey Wong, Ron Mandel, and Shereen Eltobgy worked with Sallie Mae on a variety of activities, including a values creation session, executive alignment, and ongoing weekly coaching. 


Our coach|sultants® co-designed a four-hour program to share the values refresh journey. The goal was to create Sallie Mae’s new company values and introduce each value in an experiential and memorable way for the entire organization. 



Our Voice, Our Values | Sallie Mae | Delivering Happiness


Our Voice, Our Values was highly customized with one exercise for each value, along with a personalized values exercise. The practice allowed each person to connect their own values to the organization’s values in a powerful way!


The program achieved our client's goals of having personalized executive coaching from Shereen and Ron the whole way through. They

co-facilitated the pilot of the "Values Refresh All Employees Session", and it was very well received.


This program will roll out to 1500 employees over the next 3-6 months by 24 newly trained facilitators.


Our Voice, Our Values | Sallie Mae | Delivering Happiness


Lasting Influence


Despite not having full executive buy-in, Bonnie knew a culture transformation was the right thing to do, and she was committed to the journey.


Leaders and culture champions alike can learn from Sallie Mae's story, and the way they really honed their values and made it a co-created effort. 


The team developed strong bonds with each other, which was a very strategic move because there were powerful leaders involved who made quite an impact and influenced the whole organization. Ultimately, the process involved members at every level of the company, which was a great achievement.


Today, Sallie Mae is continuing their journey and, most importantly, following their North Star.


Do your core values still resonate with your team, or is it time for a refresh?  DH provides virtual & on-site workplace culture solutions!
Core values refresh workshop

About the Author

Karissa Barcelo

Karissa was born in New York City, raised in Miami Beach, and she currently resides in Las Vegas. For 10+ years she worked as a script supervisor, producer and copywriter for various commercials, TV shows, films and more. She helped produce buzz-worthy content for the entertainment news show Dish Nation and interviewed celebrities at major award shows such as the Oscars and the MTV Video Music Awards. She also managed marketing campaigns for high-end luxury brands. Producing compelling content with a killer marketing strategy behind it is her passion.

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