1. Why did you choose Private Lending?
I wouldn’t say that I chose Private Lending specifically, however I have always been in the mortgage industry. I started my career with a small entrepreneurial company buying distressed whole loans during the Great Financial Crisis, and I had the opportunity to work in nearly every department over my 5-year tenure. In addition to the fundamentals of the mortgage industry, I learned how to build processes, develop technology, lead a team, and grow a company. I felt my skills could translate to any industry and I wasn’t sure if I would stay in mortgage. But the mortgage world is a small one, and if you work hard and make good connections, those connections can drive your career. One role led to another, and I’ve now been in the industry for 16 years, with 9 of those years in Private Lending.
2. What is your current role and what do you do day-to-day?
I am the Executive Vice President of Operations at Arixa Capital, a fund manager and private lender. As an entrepreneurial company, we all wear a lot of hats. I am part of the Executive Team and oversee our loan operations, investor relations, and compliance departments. That means my day ranges from approving loan-level exceptions, to setting policies and procedures, to capital raising and providing due diligence. I also direct our technology strategy. We have proprietary technology that is constantly evolving to support our business and to help streamline our operations to ensure we maintain our competitive advantage and accommodate our growth plan.
3. What excites you about your role today?
I get excited about the ability to affect change. Having a role where you can see the results of your work is really rewarding and pushes me to work hard every day.
4. How has the industry changed since you began your career regarding women?
When I first started in the mortgage industry and would attend conferences, I could go an entire day and not have a meeting with another woman. While the conferences and industry are still very male dominated, there are now many women leading very successful Private Lending companies. There is a networking group dedicated to women in the industry, Women in Private Lending, that was started by an incredible group of women including my co-worker, Kristina Sawyer. There is still a lot of work to do to ensure that management and executive teams are more diverse and that women aren’t only represented at the staff level, but I think there has been a lot of positive movement and highlighting women and their accomplishments helps show the next generation what’s possible.
5. Can you explain a time where you faced adversity or had struggles early on in your career? Where did it all begin? How did these experiences mold and shape you into the leader you are today?
I will never forget the look of disappointment when I showed up alone to a vendor meeting in my early 20s. I was not who he expected at the meeting. Whether it was the fact that I was young, a junior in the company, or a woman, I’ll never know. That feeling always stuck with me, but I didn’t let it discourage me. I continued to dress up, work hard, and let my knowledge and work ethic speak for itself. And I ended up having an amazing relationship with that vendor for many years to come.
6. Is there anything that you wish you could go back and tell yourself at the beginning of your career?
Relax. I have always strived for perfection in everything I do. But needing to be perfect leads to a lot of extra stress and anxiety. I probably can give my current self the same advice.
7. Who is someone that has had a significant effect on your career and why?
My Dad. My Dad has been a banker since he was in high school. He started as a bank teller and worked his way up to senior management at several bank organizations. He has an amazing mix of integrity, a strong work ethic, and the ability to have fun at work. Everyone I’ve ever met enjoyed working with him but also valued his experience in the industry. He never complained about going to work and always came home with stories about his day. He never made work seem like a chore, but a fun part of his life. I have tried to approach work the same way and not have it be something I have to do but something I enjoy doing.
8. What has been your favorite aspect of being in private lending over the years?
The people. I enjoy being part of a tight-knit industry where you continuously cross paths with the same people. It also means that you never know who you may work with or for in the future, so treat everyone with respect. Arixa has built a top-notch team of industry professionals that take pride in their work and always step up to support each other. They make work enjoyable every day.
9. What would you consider to be the highlight of your career thus far?
Becoming a female Chief Operating Officer in my early 30s in a male dominated industry.
10. What do you enjoy most about your job? Least?
My favorite part about my job is the variety. The mix of strategy, problem solving, technology development, process improvement, capital raising, and relationship building keeps me on my toes and ensures that no day is the same as the last. My least favorite part is feeling like there is not enough time to accomplish everything I want to do.
11. Is time or money more valuable and why?
Time. When you’re young, you have time and less money, and when you’re older you may have more money, but time is precious. When I was young, I spent my free time traveling on a budget with money I didn’t really have. Now that I’m older, I have more means to do the things I want to do but the time is hard to come by. I find myself spending money to maximize my time.
12. How do you make sure your company stays ahead in this industry?
We never accept the status quo as good enough. We are continuously evolving our processes, technology, and expertise. We collect feedback from our borrowers and investors on how we are doing and use it to improve. We attend industry conferences and share takeaways with the team to ensure everyone knows what is changing in both the industry and broader economy.
13. What tools do you use to aid you in your role to be most efficient, organized, and focused?
I live by my calendar and make a lot of lists and Excel tables, both in my work life and my personal life. I always maintain my calendar to ensure I’ll be on time to meetings and start my day with a list of to dos. I use Excel to organize everything in my life from large data sets to teacher appreciation gifts for my daughter’s school.
14. What advice would you give to a woman who has just started out in private lending?
My advice to women starting out in any industry is to:
- Find good mentors. A mentor doesn’t have to be a boss but anyone that you can learn from and model behavior off of.
- Learn as much as you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The more you understand the big picture and all the connecting pieces, the more valuable you will be in any role.
- Hold yourself to a higher standard than your peers with regards to everything: be on time to work and meetings, dress in a professional manner, and stay away from work drama.
- Work hard and never think you’re above any job.