Although women holding key leadership positions in the housing industry is a rarity, there are a number of female trailblazers that have established a name for themselves in a male-dominated market.
The third annual Women in Housing Leadership Forum at the Five Star Conference and Expo recognizes the strength and leadership of women across housing and mortgage servicing. This was the final event at the Five Star Conference. Three female trailblazers in graced the stage, each of them with important lessons learned as they have traveled down their path.
The first speaker to take the stage, Kathleen Malone, SVP at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage discussed the importance of mentorship among women in this line of business.
"As I think back, I appreciated the thought in knowing that someone was on my side, in my corner, and helping me achieve my goals," Malone said."
Malone then shared a story of how her high-school volleyball coach encouraged her to go to the college of her choice after the counselor at the school told her that her test scores were too low to go any of the school she chose.
"I was determined to get into one of those schools, I never would have made it where I am today," she added. "Something small can be huge. Encourage and challenge others to think through and take advantage of those
opportunities where they can make a huge difference in someone’s day and career."
"Financial reform is needed in our industry, especially in investment banking. This is one place where we do not have enough women."
President & CEO, Ebby Halliday Real Estate, Inc., Mary Frances Burleson, began her speech with a tribute to the late Ebby Halliday, founder of the company.
Mary Frances began her career as a secretary before discovering the new world of Ebby Halliday, where a small group of women were successfully selling homes.
She added, "After seeing Ebby, I realized that the world is your oyster, anything was possible. I was in the right place at the right time. What a great experience, I would not want to do anything else."
Mary Frances also advised other women in the industry to make sure that they are in the career they really want.
"Make sure you enjoy and like it. Find a mentor, serve the clients, serve the community, and serve the industry."
Kathryn Madison, CEO, HSBC took a more personal and feminine approach to her speech. She talked about the female gender being more emotional and emphatic in the industry and how this can be advantageous.
"By showing emotion, women can connect one on one at a more personal level, and that can drive a high performance team," Madison said.
She then explained why women are usually quiet in professional settings and not bold enough to request the results they want.
"Women tend to shy away from self advocacy, and I'm speaking from observation and personal experience," Madison explained. "Men do better by focusing on what they do well. We women tend to focus on perfection. This holds us back."
She concluded with, "Women of my generation think we had it hard, and I agree. So we should make it easier for women in up-and-coming generations."
FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair
The honorable Sheila C. Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., wrapped up the panel of distinguished ladies with a reflection of her path to her current position and most recent position as President of Washington College. Of her position at the college she said, "It's such a relief to have a gender neutral title."
Growing up in a family deeply rooted in positive moral and core values began her infatuation with helping people, leading her to major in philosophy and later, obtain a law degree.
"If I look back on my career, I was mentored by more men than women, it just wasn’t many around in senior positions during this time," Bair noted. "When I broke into the financial services industry, I quickly learned that it was heavily male-dominated and difficult to navigate."
She added, "Financial reform is needed in our industry, especially in investment banking. This is one place where we do not have enough women."
to view the September 2015 issue of MReport
, featuring Sheila C. Bair.
to view the August 2015 Women in Housing issue of MReport.
Editor's note: The Five Star Institute is the parent company of DS News, DSNews.com, The MReport, and TheMReport.com.