Kim Yowell, SVP and Servicing Manager for BOK Financial, sat down with DS News to give her perspective on being a woman in the housing and mortgage industry and advice for success in the workplace.
What drew you to the mortgage industry?
I graduated from college with an accounting degree, and I was recruited on campus by a mortgage company. I went to work as a staff accountant and progressed pretty quickly within the industry. I would say that I stayed because of both the challenges and the opportunities. I've been in the industry for over 30 years and there continue to be challenges. But the opportunities are there as well, so it has been very satisfying.
What are some of the challenges you see in the industry?
It's hard for me to compare it to other industries, but I think women still struggle to get the respect of other women. I think that's something we need to do better as a group–have women support women. I think people naturally respect and accept men in certain positions, where women do have to work harder for it, and aren't necessarily accepted by other women.
What are the benefits to working as a mortgage professional?
I think this is an industry where if you have the skills, the talents, the capabilities, and you work hard, you will progress in this industry, whether you are a man or a woman. There is a network of people out there that will support you and mentor you and help develop you in your career. I would say, if you want to move forward in any industry, there are sacrifices that you have to make. You have to be willing to invest in yourself and your training and keep up with your industry and your skill set. It's as much on you as anyone else for you to be successful in this industry.
What advice to you have for women in this industry?
What I would recommend is having transferable skill sets. There are opportunities out there for women with strong IT and technical skills. I think our industry is underserved with women in IT, and that's where I would encourage them to get their education and carve a path along those lines.