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Embracing the Challenges of the Mortgage Industry

dana-dillardDana Dillard, EVP and Chief Customer Officer for Nationstar Mortgage, sat down with DS News to give insight into the challenges and opportunities that come with being a woman in the mortgage industry.

With over 25 years’ mortgage servicing experience, Dillard has worked at many large servicing organizations with a focus on the customer and default. Currently, Dillard serves as the Chief Customer Officer at Nationstar Mortgage where she has responsibility for industry relations, nonprofit engagement as well as the Customer Advocacy team.

Prior to joining Nationstar, Dillard worked at GMAC RESCAP where she managed the REO, Liquidations, and Community Outreach teams during the peak of the housing crisis. Dillard has held other senior leadership positions at EMC Mortgage, Bank of America Mortgage, and Lomas Mortgage.

Dillard considers one of the highlights of her career to be leading the outreach efforts at HOPENOW from 2008-2010 where she traveled across the country talking with hundreds of struggling families. For that work, Dillard received the Five Star Institute’s Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2009. A Dallas native, Dillard is a graduate of SMU with degrees in Journalism and Business.

What drew you to the mortgage industry and being a mortgage professional?

Initially what drew me was the fact that I needed a job, but what has kept me in it is the challenge. I have always been very fortunate that just when I start to feel like I have learned a lot and I am ready for new challenges, those challenges come along.

What are some of the challenges of being a woman in the housing industry?

Like with every industry, the higher up in organizations you get the fewer women you’ll find, and it can be very isolating. Sometimes you can be the only female in the room, but that doesn’t mean that as a woman you can’t be heard. That is something that I have to continue to work on. How can I contribute? How can I add value? How can I make sure that when I do get that opportunity that I am saying something that is worth listening to? Most companies have lots of females at the frontlines and the first couple of layers but it's that next layer that we as the industry have to step up our game and make more of a balanced approach for women. We must also as an industry create environments where women can really thrive and not feel like they can't be themselves at work.

What are some of the benefits to being a woman in the mortgage business?

I think we are great listeners, and we have a lot of empathy. Especially during the housing crisis when so many families were hurting, there was a need for creativity and looking at things from a different perspective, and I think women brought it when it came to those challenges. That is our secret weapon. We can see the people side, and we can find a way to relate to it. I have always worn the customer hat, and I think because of that and making those connections, that is what my gift is.

What advice do you have for young women looking to enter into the industry?

I would encourage women to really give some good thought as to what they want to do. Do not be passive about your career or wait for someone to come to you with an opportunity. Instead, really think about what your gift is and how you can contribute and to find ways to align yourself with that type of work.

I love customer work so I always try to find a way to be with the customer and in the community. But if you are an Ops person, push yourself to that side. If you are a relationship person, maybe work more on the sales side. But I think that is the piece sometimes that women don't give enough thought to. Women should ask, "what do I want to do", not "what is being offered to me." I think that the opportunities in this industry are endless. Every position that I've had, I have been able to turn it into something I want it to be.

About Author: Kendall Baer

Kendall Baer is a Baylor University graduate with a degree in news editorial journalism and a minor in marketing. She is fluent in both English and Italian, and studied abroad in Florence, Italy. Apart from her work as a journalist, she has also managed professional associations such as Association of Corporate Counsel, Commercial Real Estate Women, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and Project Management Institute for Association Management Consultants in Houston, Texas. Born and raised in Texas, Baer now works as the online editor for DS News.

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