Next Up Columbus 2024: Siana Talley

Siana Talley
Siana Talley

Photo courtesy of Siana Talley

Interview by Derek Grosso

Name: Siana Talley
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Age: 35
Profession: Senior Manager Operations Strategy at Discover Financial Services
Neighborhood: Canal Winchester
Education: Undergrad from Ohio Dominican in Business Administration, Lean Six SIgma Green Belt Certified
Community Involvement: Board Memberships include Passport 2 Fashion (Community Engagement), National Black MBA Association (Director of Corporate Sponsorship and MArketing Chair), Non-Profits and businesses that I engage with through Corporation Social Impact; Brown Girls Mentoring, The Columbus Urban League, Women Just LIke Me, Ice Pynk Mentoring, One Columbus, The Columbus City Schools Workforce Roundtables, National Center for Urban Solutions
Motto: “Do something that makes you happy every day – big or small!” – Siana Talley
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook

Give us a snapshot of your path
Year 1-2: Fraud Servicing Agent
My Discover journey began on the front lines, as a Fraud Servicing Agent. While I thrived on helping customers, I knew I had the potential to make a broader impact. This role instilled in me a deep understanding of customer needs and the challenges they faced.

Years 3-5: Transition to Operations Leadership
My hunger for growth led me to explore leadership opportunities. I took on various operations leader roles, honing my ability to manage teams and optimize processes. These experiences equipped me with a comprehensive understanding of Discover’s operational backbone.

Years 6-11: Senior Manager, Operations Strategy
Leveraging my expertise in both customer service and operations, I landed my current role as Senior Manager of Operations Strategy. Here, I bridge the gap by building customer-centric strategies that streamline operations for both agents and cardholders. My unique perspective, born from my diverse experiences, allows me to craft solutions that prioritize a positive experience for everyone involved.

The Journey Continues
At Discover, I’ve found a company that values continuous learning and career development. This 11-year journey has been a testament to that, and I’m excited to see what the future holds as I continue to make a positive impact on Discover’s operations and customer experience.

What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
Each morning, I’m propelled forward by the love for my family and the legacy I want to build. The dream of generational wealth motivates me to create a brighter future for my children, one filled with opportunity. But my drive extends beyond my family. As an African American woman of influence, I see myself as a role model. Knowing that my journey inspires others is a constant reminder to keep pushing boundaries. Every day is a gift, a chance to make a positive impact. So, I wake up with gratitude and seize the opportunity to leave the world a better place than I found it.

What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
My mentors, both inside and outside Discover, have been instrumental in shaping my success. From year three onwards, I’ve benefited from phenomenal strategic relationships that have offered invaluable guidance. Recognizing the power of diverse perspectives, I actively sought both internal and external mentors. Their wisdom has been a guiding light. Here are a few nuggets that continue to resonate:

  • “Stop Thinking Like an Agent”: This challenged me to see beyond the immediate task and consider the bigger picture, fostering a strategic mindset.
  • “Take the Job That’s Hard, Not Easy”: This pushed me to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, propelling me to develop new skills and expand my capabilities.
  • “What Am I Good At to Be Effective?”: This encouraged me to identify and leverage my strengths, maximizing my impact in each role.
  • “Gentle Pressure Applied Relentlessly is Something You Embody, Keep Doing It”: This highlighted my ability to persistently pursue goals without being aggressive, a quality I continue to hone.
  • “Speak Truth to Power”: This empowered me to advocate for what I believe is right, even when challenging the status quo.

What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
To unwind after a busy week, I embrace my inner homebody. Spending quality time with family is my priority, just enjoying each other’s company and creating lasting memories. However, I also carve out some “me-time” to indulge in a unique passion: pens, planners, and notebooks. Yes, you might say I have a bit of an obsession! My collection overflows, and while I can’t predict the future, maybe it’s a sign of a book waiting to be written. After all, with all this stationery, there are bound to be stories begging to be told!

What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
As a local, I’ve discovered some hidden gems for unwinding and indulging. Little Italy in Groveport is a personal favorite, offering a delightful taste of authentic Italian cuisine. For a more casual vibe, Eagles Pizza in New Albany is a must-try. Whenever I have the chance, I love exploring local food trucks – there’s always a new discovery to be made! To fuel my busy days, I frequent Upper Cup Coffee Shop and Potter’s House Coffee for their delicious brews.

When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
Back in the day, like many kids, I dreamt of being a lawyer. Fueled by dramatic courtroom scenes on TV, I didn’t quite grasp the intricacies of the legal world, but the idea of negotiation and advocacy appealed to me. This early fascination even landed me a job at a law firm right out of high school. Looking back, it felt like destiny – a sign that law was my calling. Fast forward, and here I am thriving in a completely different yet fulfilling environment – a call center! It’s funny how life takes unexpected turns, but what I’ve discovered is that making a positive impact can happen anywhere, even in ways I couldn’t have imagined as a young adult.

What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
While reading wasn’t always a top priority, I’ve made a commitment to personal growth this year. I’m on a mission to devour at least one book per quarter, and just finished “The 12 Week Year.” Now I’m diving into “Origin” – the movie sparked my interest, and with my passion for community connection, I knew this book would offer a deeper understanding of the historical forces shaping our culture. Podcasts are on hold for now as I’m busy building my own! Get ready for “Banking on Yourself: Building Confidence and Investing in You,” launching later this year in 2024! I’m incredibly excited to share this project with the world.

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
Being chosen for the Next Up award is a tremendous honor. While I’m driven by the impact I can make, this recognition truly means a lot. It signifies that someone saw the value I bring and championed my contributions. More importantly, this award isn’t just a personal achievement; it’s fuel for my passion project, Si Connects Community. Being a Next Up leader elevates my platform, allowing me to reach more people, advocate for change, and inspire others. I’m humbled by this recognition and incredibly grateful. To God be the glory!

If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
Columbus’ pulse is undeniably electric! There’s a constant buzz of opportunity in job markets, community development, and resources. Talent, training, and innovation are flourishing, paving the way for a bright future for the next generation. This city is unrecognizable from the Columbus I knew 20 years ago. The daily collaborations and creativity that birth “dope things” are truly inspiring. This energy is the lifeblood of Si Connects Community, my passion project. I envision it as a central hub, a consulting firm that connects the dots. We’ll bring together all these amazing initiatives, businesses, and organizations to amplify their impact. Columbus has so much to offer, and Si Connects Community aims to ensure everyone has a chance to be a part of it.

The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2024 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Edison Brewing Co. for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2024” »


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