Since the time I stepped foot in New American Funding over a year ago… I noticed the millennial generation leading the marketing department. Who are these young people that are being trusted with the catalyst of the company? Well, was I surprised! Jessica Gonzalez was one of the first managers I had to interact with, and I was absolutely astonished by the way she carried herself, the knowledge she shared, and her subtle ways of commanding respect. In other words, I was blown away! Here is the story of Jessica Gonzalez, Millennial, Latina and proud to make a difference in the mortgage industry!
How did you discover the mortgage industry?
I joined New American Funding’s recruitment department three years ago. I studied Business and Human Resources, and I was offered the opportunity to work in my field. I was a little worried about working in the mortgage industry, as it has had a questionable reputation at times. Growing up my family was impacted by the housing downturn, and I was unsure about working in what was perceived as an unstable industry. As I became more familiar with mortgage products, I saw the opportunity to make a significant change. I was now in a position to empower others in my age bracket to get educated on the reality of the mortgage industry.
Two months after I was hired, Christy Bunce, COO gave me an opportunity. She recognized qualities in me she needed to lead a new department – the Retail Marketing Division.
Is the industry what you expected?
Not at all! I grew up in the middle of the housing crisis, my mom and the news were my source of information. At school, this was a hot topic, families we knew were losing their homes, absolutely heartbreaking. The housing industry became a bad word in our vocabulary, never to be trusted, shady, and always unstable. When I started in the industry, I did my homework on all of the different programs that are provided to first-time homebuyers and the underserved. After educating myself, I was very proud to be part of something that was making people’s dreams of homeownership come true.
How do you contribute from a marketing side to the mortgage industry?
The division that I lead consists of four millennial women that support a total of 750 Loan Originators (LO) and 70 marketing assistants across the nation. Our Loan Originators are building relationships with business partners on a daily basis, and my division helps them do this. I am involved in developing and executing 116 trainings yearly to help serve our growing company. I always wanted to be a trainer and being able to introduce new marketing tools to my team makes me love my position that much more.
I’m also very involved with the teams we support to ensure proper feedback. I’ve implemented a process for feedback and brainstorming across all levels, from weekly calls to Regional Managers to surveys, in person meetings, and emails. As a millennial, I’m able to also share some of the things that young homebuyers might be looking for or would want to see from the Loan Originator. Technology plays a huge role as well, being a stakeholder in the development of mobile applications has been quite an experience.
Is this a dream job?
YES! I didn’t go to school for marketing and to fall into a position that suits me so well has been a dream. I have seen so much growth within this company, and I feel so proud to be a part of it!
What has been the biggest challenge in your current role given you are a millennial and the LO average age is that of your parents?
I have to say it’s my age, I look rather young. This presented a huge challenge at times when doing presentations. I wouldn’t be given the respect that others older than me would get. I had to overcome that and learn how to continue speaking at times when people seemed uninterested. I now walk into those same presentations knowing that I have the knowledge that they need and pretty much blow them away every time. I’ve had to work on my approach and now the respect I get is amazing.
As a millennial yourself, how do you manage your team of millennials?
I manage with four things in mind, lead by example, do not micro-manage, mutual respect, and work/life balance.
I lead by example. You will see me executing the same daily duties as my team. I help out whenever I am needed, and I am not afraid to get my hands dirty and put in the extra work.
I do not micro-manage, and I make sure to check in with my team on a regular basis to make sure we have realistic goals.
I also have a level of respect for my team members, I get the same respect I give. I deal with issues in a calm way and always make sure we are clear. I’ve been very lucky to have had good and bad supervisors, and I’ve learned from both. My current EVP of Marketing, Jennette Landrum, has been a huge inspiration, zero micro-management, full trust, and clear communication is how I am led and how I lead.
Work/life balance is my mantra, everything can wait until tomorrow. I personally struggle with this because I am such a committed worker. I am very simple and easy going. If something goes wrong, it’s in the past, we need to move on. This keeps my team very calm and easy going.
What tips can you give to the next generation of marketers in this field?
I live by one rule – kill them with kindness. Always provide the best customer service and do what is right. The sky is not falling, and any escalated matter that comes up will pass. As long as you work hard and do your job to the best of your ability, you will do great!
Is this job rewarding at a personal level?
Yes. I love the entire company. I love the owners, Patty and Rick Arvielo- they are inspiring, and I’m so happy I get to work with everyone here on a daily basis. I have grown immensely in the last three years, and it has had a lot to do with my position here at this company. The EVP of Marketing, Jennette Landrum, has given me the opportunity to grow and achieve my dreams. I am truly blessed.
Jessica Gonzalez is Manager of Retail Marketing for New American Funding. She can be reached at Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org