In high school, Mark Heleen was more interested in what was happening outside of the classroom than what was going on inside it. "I played baseball and hockey and ran cross-country and track," he says.
Mark eventually applied the determination he developed in sports to his academics. He majored in political science and minored in Soviet studies. He then studied law and foreign policy at the University of Pittsburgh.
Mark's ability to change his course and still go the distance has served him well. At Navient, he manages the company's legal operations. "We do everything from employment law, to intellectual property, to litigation to corporate transactions – all the things a traditional full service law firm does."
One of five children, Mark grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Mark's interest in finance goes back to his first real summer job as a teller. That job, along with money from his parents and student loans, helped pay for college.
As a young lawyer with student loans to repay, he worked at a law firm that represented a bank, and in 1995, he became the senior counsel for Pittsburgh National Bank, the predecessor to today's PNC Financial, now the sixth-largest bank in the U.S.
When Mark and his wife made the decision to move from Pittsburgh to the D.C. area, he found a local job with Sallie Mae. "It was a great fit and even better timing," he says. He worked his way up from associate general counsel to executive vice president and general counsel.
Following his departure from Sallie Mae in 2010, Mark worked as a consultant for several start-up student lenders and investment banks. Mark then accepted a position with the law firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, where he continued to work with student loan legal topics.
Mark joined Navient in 2014 and was named general counsel in 2015. He takes to heart the company’s mission to help customers navigate the path to financial success. “We’re here to help,” he says. "That's our goal."
"I'm proud that Lisa and I seem to have raised two healthy, well-adjusted kids," he says. Professionally, he’s proud to serve as general counsel, and describes himself as a "transaction geek," who loves the accomplishment of setting a business goal and seeing it through.