MReport February 2019

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24 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE decision to resign when she felt her integrity was at stake. "I guess I know instinctively what I'm going to do and what the right thing for me to do in a moment like that is," she said, while acknowledging that "it was a risk." Over the course of her career, she has continued to be decisive, but she admits she also tries to think through her decisions with care. Driving home after resigning from her job at 25, Davies con- fesses, was a little scary. She had no job and still needed to pay rent. "So I do think now, even though I may know what the end result is going to be, I would sit with it just a little bit longer," she says. "I'm very clear on the decisions I make, but I also now spend a little more time because I have a better understand- ing after being in the workplace this many years that sometimes there are a lot of factors that you need to consider as you make your deci- sions, and the ramifications of the decisions that you make." Davies has also applied her decisive, risk-taking nature to the roles she's taken on throughout her career. When her boss at Freddie Mac asked her to step into a new role in an area of the business with which she was unfamiliar, she did not hesitate but went on to lead the group and effect positive change. However, she concedes that de- ciding to take risks "doesn't mean you have to take a big risk that's going to change the course of your career like that one did for me. You can take small risks." Empowerment "The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership." —Harvey S. Firestone T ransitioning to a leadership role can be a challenge, and Davies says, "the most mis- guided leadership trait is the dreaded micro-manager." In contrast to the micro-manag- er who instills little confidence and inspiration in his or her employees, Davies intentionally leads with a mantra of empowerment. "I like to empower those around me," she says, adding that "there's nothing like motivating and en- couraging people to do what they feel is best and make the contribu- tions and include their thoughts and perspectives." To empower others, Davies says it is critical to engage employees. "You really need to listen to their ideas and be ready to change and adapt." "I often require my team to take risks as they look at the big picture because I think it's really impor- tant to be able to step out of one's comfort zone and really evolve yourself in the organization as we navigate our goals and objectives," Davies says. Not only has Davies made it a mission to empower her own em- ployees throughout her career, but she has also taken up the charge of empowering women across the industry with a networking group she founded in 2015: mPower, sponsored by the MBA. Understanding the Industry "Leadership and learning are indispens- able to each other." —John F. Kennedy W hile she didn't list it as one of her top three leadership traits, Davies is a strong proponent of "understanding the business you're in." And again, she lives her beliefs. "Despite her many years in the industry, Marcia still studies," Webb says. And it shows. Webb calls her a "walking industry encyclopedia." Davies suggests professionals from all parts of the housing finance industry gain an understanding of origination, servicing, the secondary market, and capital markets. "I would encourage any leader to really understand all aspects of the industry," she says. "It doesn't mean you have to understand them technically, but you should really understand all aspects of the various functions that are per- formed within our industry, so that you can have a holistic view, and you can really understand how— whether it's policies or regulations or changes in pricing—affect the business and affect your customers or affect your organization." For those looking to follow this advice, Davies says MBA and other industry organizations hold conferences, webinars, training programs, and more. "So the information's out there. You have to make it a priority and take the time and the commitment to really do the work, to under- stand things that might not impact your day-to-day job today, but will impact your overall contribution and understanding of how this industry moves forward," she says. Transcending Her Role: Empowering through mPower A few years ago, Davies began to notice that not only were there few women at major industry events, but also the women did not seem to know and connect with each other. When she invited 75 women to lunch during an annual MBA conference in 2015 and 150 showed up, she "realized there was this need for women to connect and engage." That first lunch transformed into mPower, MBA Promoting Opportunities for Women to Extend Their Reach. Today, mPow- er hosts events, presents webinars and video series, and maintains an online community for women in housing finance. In total, the group has reached more than 6,000 women, according to Davies. "Often as women, we are not seen or heard," Webb says. "mPower provides a platform to address, tackle, and solve systemic, historical behavioral expectations of traditional roles from a patri- archal lens, thereby uplifting and empowering women worldwide." "The most powerful lesson I've learned is that we do others a dis- service when we don't speak up," Webb says. Not only does mPower offer a community for women, but it also aims to highlight and solve gender While becoming an effective leader may seem an elusive goal with unclear standards —countless articles, blogs, and studies have offered lists of important leadership qualities—it is clear that effective leaders bring success to themselves and those around them.

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