Elite company: Attorney ranks among best in a variety of pursuits


– Photos courtesy of Doreen Hoffman

By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

"Ultra" is a word that goes hand-in-hand with attorney Doreen Hoffman, whether in the context of her professional or personal life.

As the director of Compliance and Portfolio Recovery for Credibly, Hoffman recently was recognized by The Financial Technology Report as one of the "Top 25 Women Leaders in Financial Technology of 2020," earning national praise for her "35 years of legal expertise and leadership acumen."

The honor dovetails neatly with Hoffman's continued interest in pushing herself to greater heights in Ironman triathlon and "RacingThePlanet" ultra-marathon events, which includes some of the most grueling tests of endurance that race competition can offer.

But more about that later, which seems to be an all-too-familiar refrain for those caught in the grip of an unrelenting pandemic.

In September, Hoffman joined the select "Top 25" circle in the world of Financial Technology, a group that includes some of "best and the brightest" female minds in the industry.

"I was very honored to be included with those women," Hoffman said of the recognition. "It was quite humbling, especially after getting to know the backgrounds of the other honorees and the strengths that they possess."

Hoffman, who celebrated her 60th birthday in August, joined Southfield-based Credibly after founding her own law practice, Trott Recovery Services, where she was the CEO and managing partner for six years. An alumna of the former Detroit College of Law (now known as Michigan State University College of Law), Hoffman began her legal career as a trial attorney for the Muller Law Firm, a role she held for 17 years before becoming a partner at Markoff Law.

"I've spent the bulk of my career in financial law, commercial litigation, and debt collection," Hoffman said. "At Credibly, which provides small business loans and working capital to companies, I'm now focused on the front end of the loan process instead of on the default side as in the past. It's been a welcome change and I'm pleased to be with such a great company."

A Grosse Pointe resident, Hoffman grew up on a farm in Michigan, getting a taste of hard work at an early age. Those early lessons have paid repeated dividends over the past two decades as she developed a passion for long-distance athletic events.

It started somewhat by chance, she said. At the age of 38, and seemingly the picture of health, Hoffman paid an infrequent visit to the doctor after "feeling poorly." An electrocardiogram (EKG) uncovered a congenital heart defect linked to a hole in the vital organ, a potentially fatal problem that was causing blood to seep into her lungs, according to Hoffman.

"In January of 1999, I underwent open heart surgery to sew up the hole, which also corrected a heart murmur that I had," said Hoffman, whose 27-year-old son Tyler is a graduate of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and now works for a consulting company in Chicago.

Some eight months later in 1999, and with the blessing of her cardiologist, Hoffman entered her first sprint triathlon, a three-pronged event featuring a half-mile swim, a 20-kilometer bike ride, and a 5-km run. In 2001, she completed The Detroit Free Press Marathon, a 26.2-mile race that served as a stepping-stone to an Ironman Triathlon in Madison, Wis. two years later. The Madison event featured a grueling 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run, and would be the first of seven Ironmans that Hoffman has finished.

Triathlon competition whet Hoffman's appetite for an even more imposing long-distance challenge the RacingThePlanet event, which to the casual observer would make marathoning look like the proverbial walk in the park.

RacingThePlanet was founded in 2002 in Hong Kong by American Mary Gadams, a former investment banker and strategist, who has completed more than 50 marathons, ultramarathons and wilderness competitions around the world, according to the event's website. Its four deserts series features footraces in the Sahara (Egypt), the Atacama (Chile), the Gobi (China), and Antarctica, while on a rotating basis it holds a "Roving Race" event at other sites around the world.

"The beauty of the Ironman, as compared to the RacingThePlanet event, is that it is a one-day event as opposed to seven," Hoffman said. "Even though an Ironman is unbelievably challenging, there always is the thought in the back of your mind that it will be over within the span of a day. Mentally, the RacingThePlanet event is more difficult because you are having to push yourself over successive days, where the weather can vary widely, causing all sorts of difficulties."

Still, said Hoffman, there is something particularly appealing about the ultimate endurance test.

"I really like the RacingThePlanet races better because of the camaraderie with my fellow racers from all over the world and the opportunity to soak up the local cultures," she said.

Hoffman has tested herself at four Planet races in some of the most beautiful and foreboding places around the globe. A Michigan State alum, Hoffman made use of the medics during her first RacingThePlanet experience in 2006 through the Sahara Desert. A nasty infection in her big toe forced her to pull out of the race at the midway point.

It was déjà vu two years later in the Gobi Desert, when "horrible blisters" and a badly bruised foot sidelined Hoffman after the fourth stage of the race.

In 2013, her third try at finishing appeared doomed before the race even started, when a flight cancellation nearly derailed Hoffman's trip to Reykjavik, Iceland's capital city, forcing her to hop on board an earlier plane with a different airline. Needless to say, her suitcase didn't make the connections quite as deftly.

But, after some last-minute shopping, Hoffman made the most of her Icelandic experience, completing the seven-day, 155-mile race in 57 hours, 9 minutes, and 57 seconds, a time good for 215th place among the 270 entrants from 50 countries around the world.

A year later, she would taste racing success again.

"I completed the eight-day stage race in 2014 called 'Transalpine,' which started in Germany, went through Austria and we ended up in Italy," Hoffman said. "I did it again in 2015 although I did not meet a time cutoff so was not an official finisher. In 2016, I completed my seventh Ironman. In 2019, I completed the RacingThePlanet six-stage race in the Gobi Desert race in Mongolia."

Last year, Hoffman had mapped out an ambitious race schedule until a nasty strain of virus turned the world on its ear.

"I turned 60 this past August and I had big plans that were interrupted of course by COVID," Hoffman sighed. "I had signed up for two full Ironmans and the RacingThePlanet race in the country of Georgia all now put over to next year."

In the meantime, Hoffman gets her fitness fix through a combination of yoga, running, biking, swimming, and walking along the scenic Detroit Riverwalk. She also stays busy by volunteering as a financial literacy speaker and mentor, supporting "high school and college students in their pursuit of a sound and stable financial future."

Recently, she even spoke virtually to a group of second grade students in Ann Arbor, testing her talents once again.

"It was so much fun," Hoffman said of the opportunity to connect with the youngsters. "I forgot how energetic and squirrelly they can be."


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