MReport August 2022

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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26 | M R EP O RT FEATURE know if it's because of the type of leader that I am, or that I focus on ways to level up my organization that concentrate on empowering team members, but I have not noticed a drop in productivity. If anything, in all three organizations, I've seen an uptick in productivity. I've seen individuals that can sit back and, as long as there's a culture where you're creating that sense of community where they feel like they can pick up a phone or jump in a Zoom meeting … as long as you've created a collab- orative environment where that water cooler talk can still happen from a positive perspective, that productivity will increase. I've seen a lot more clarity on innovation and a lot more direc- tion with enhancing processes and procedures being more ef- fective, with less paperwork and more online work, which results in fewer errors, usually. You touched on this a bit, but how are the needs and requests of your job candidates changing? I ndustry leaders and hiring managers are seeing more and more potential employers ask about DE&I and ESG initiatives as well as professional develop- ment and growth initiatives. Your new team members are looking at organizations and asking, how are you ensuring my growth while I'm ensuring yours? What type of programs have you implemented to further my de- velopment and educate me? What exactly is my career path? Where do you see me in a couple of years? If I'm applying for XYZ job, what can my expectation be? And my response is, it's the individual relationships with those employees that are created between peers and management that are changing as well. I love employees that come say, "In two years, I want to be here, but I need to learn how." For me, that's amazing, because it's part of their growth trajectory. It goes back to the concept that we were talking about—a whole-self approach. I am the very same person to my husband and children as I am to my teammates, including my leadership team. I hold the same level of expectations and provide the same morals, values, and energy to both. My team feels this, they know this, and they appreciate and respect this way of leadership. As a leader, we have to be forward-thinking with what the next working generation is looking for. How are you providing advancement opportunities within your organization? E ducate, educate, educate. It's all about educating your team members and providing knowledge on said program or product. You empower them to be better. I love employees that start crafting and building their long-term goals in their job. You're not supposed to design their career path, but what you're supposed to do is provide a tool to help guide their career paths. It's important for organizations to concentrate on education, not just training. You're providing the tools to educate themselves on what it means to be self-aware or to be self-empowered. What does it mean to create relationships with a comprehensive understand- ing of not having a triangular relationship? As leaders, we need to provide growth for our team. That's how we advance. What are you looking for in an ideal candidate? T he whole-self approach that I'm talking about with Axis Lending Academy. Our purpose is to provide our placement partners who hire our graduates with individuals educated in our industry that understand every- thing from A to Z. We also have our learners participate in our wellness program. The reason why the wellness program was founded was based on my own personal experiences and what I went through as a diverse individual. When I created Axis, the mission and purpose was to bridge the D&I education gap. In order for our learners to be 100% successful, part of my responsi- bility was to provide the tools to tear down the walls in that box and put them on an even playing field with everybody else. The concept of our wellness program and wholesale approach is to educate our learners on what to do and truly empower these in- dividuals to understand their full potential and live by that every single day. Education in the mortgage, servicing, and lending industry is almost second, if not neck-and-neck, with the impor- tance of our wellness program In terms of diversity in hiring and retention, what would you like to see from the industry going forward? W hat I'd like to see is that diversity isn't a thing anymore. That it's just there; it's normal. Just come out and be who you are; that's my hope. I'm a board member with the California MBA, and when I'm sitting on that board, I'm not the only diverse person. "We're only at 30% diversity, so we're doing good." I'd like the numbers to stop. We should all be open to a different way of thinking by cre- ating a culture that's inclusive, and it will happen if you build it. DEMETRIA C. LESTER is a reporter for DS News and MReport, with more than six years of writing experience. She has served as Editor-in- Chief at Northlake College and staff writer at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington. She has covered events such as the Byron Nelson, Pac-12 Conferences, the Women in Dallas Film Festival, to freelance work with the Dallas Wings and D Magazine. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, she is an avid jazz lover and reader. She can be reached at Demetria.Lester@ "As leaders, we need to provide growth for our team. That's how we advance." —Paul Gigliotti, COO, Pinnacle Home Loans and CEO/Co-Founder, Axis Lending Academy

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