Scotsman Guide released its annual Top Women Originators award recognitions in 2021 and among those honored were Envoy Mortgage loan originators, Virna Brown, Nicole Kittredge, and Sarah Haberkorn. The award honors top producing women across the U.S. mortgage industry and was formed to recognize the significant contributions of women in mortgage banking.
To understand how women within our company cultivate their success to positively impact the mortgage industry, we decided to ask Envoy’s Top Women Originators about what it takes to be a successful female in the mortgage industry. These are their responses.
How does it feel to be named a Top Woman Producer by the Scotsman Guide?
Virna Brown, Sales Manager (Franklin, Massachusetts): It is an honor to be part of the group for the top women of the year. A lot of hard work got me here thanks to my team. Everything Envoy Mortgage allows us to do made me eligible to make the list for this prestigious group.
Nicole Kittredge, Sales Manager (Medway, Massachusetts): To be honest, I didn’t think I would make the list. I feel like things have been going in the right direction for me, so I am surprised, excited, and proud, of course!
Sarah Haberkorn, Sales Manager (Dover, New Hampshire): It’s such a huge honor. There was a lot of long work and hard hours last year, so to be recognized is such an accomplishment.
What do you think attributed to your success in 2020?
Virna Brown: I think we can all agree 2020 was a difficult year for many people. Thanks to Envoy for providing me with the platform which helped me breed the success I had last year. I also want to thank my two wonderful processors who work really hard, as well as my family. You must have an understanding family to be successful in the mortgage industry because it takes time, dedication and hard work to succeed and last year I probably worked the hardest I ever have in my life.
Nicole Kittredge: The key to the overwhelming success I had in 2020 wouldn’t be accomplished without my team. I love working at Envoy and the people I work with day in and day out are amazing. I absolutely must credit the team for getting us here together.
Sarah Haberkorn: When the pandemic hit the way we did business changed drastically. I was able to adapt swiftly in a time where loan originators were tired and burnt out. Additionally, I committed extra time and resources to make sure clients were answered quickly to get their loans closed on time. Lastly, I adapted to the refi-centric market overnight, while still nurturing those purchase relationships that are vital to long-term success in the industry.
Is there a driving force that keeps you in the mortgage industry and makes you want to come to work each day?
Virna Brown: Every day and every year is different in our industry. I get to meet some of the best people in my customers. I feel like I have done a good job when people refer me business and call me up after five years and want to continue to do business with me. This is the best compliment I could ever ask for. Being able to put a smile on someone’s face for the first time when they purchase their first home is the energy I thrive on.
Nicole Kittredge: I would say a lifelong career of making sure my customers and Realtor partners are happy is what leads to my success and is the driving force behind what I do.
Sarah Haberkorn: You must be constantly stiving to do better, so what we did last month is just the benchmark for the future and so on. I like to be busy and challenged and this is the perfect storm environment for that. I enjoy when there is plenty of business to go after, especially while doing an exceptional job at each and every turn.
Do you think the population of female loan originators has grown over the years?
Virna Brown: The numbers are going to speak for themselves. The population of women has grown in this industry, both from an executive level and all the other departments. We are definitely evening out those numbers.
Nicole Kittredge: I live in a little bit of a bubble to be honest to be as successful as I have been in this industry. I am not even sure if I have left my desk much (haha)! So, I am not too up-to-speed on this topic outside of Envoy Mortgage, but I certainly see successes from the women in our organization and I constantly see new females joining!
Sarah Haberkorn: I certainly think it has and it is so great to see more women entering the industry. I think this industry is a great opportunity for women and it is so good to see more open doors.
Are there any barriers to being a female within the mortgage industry?
Virna Brown: I don’t think there are too many barriers. You are who you are, and you make your own successes, good, bad, and different. We shouldn’t go into it thinking there are barriers. We can make it just as many of our coworkers, male, or female.
Nicole Kittredge: I started in banking in 2001 and kind of fell into the mortgage industry in 2004. I became a foster parent and was working at a bank that paid for most of my education. The hours were very inflexible, and someone said “Hey, why don’t you get into mortgage? It has flexible hours,” and I haven’t looked back!
The mortgage industry is very male dominated, time consuming and generally commission only. My husband and I both began our own businesses at the same time and had to have roommates for many years to help pay our mortgage and we waited to have children. So, if you have family responsibilities and bills that could prevent you from getting into this industry.
However, after each child of my own that I had, I had a successful year in mortgage each year after. So, whether that was motivation to take care of my family, having children has truly never slowed me down.
Sarah Haberkorn: Sometimes this profession can be tough, but it is a very rewarding opportunity to be able to help someone with the biggest major purchase in their life. It certainly has long unconventional hours and it can sometimes make it difficult to have that work-life and family balance. So, it is not going to be for everybody.
Is there an edge to being a female in the mortgage industry?
Virna Brown: I feel in most cases being a woman has many advantages in this industry. We lead with compassion and empathy and if you reflect that in your work and have a general interest in your customers, they will feel that.
Nicole Kittredge: Generally, women are empathetic, detail-oriented, and great at multitasking. I am sure there are other people that do those things better than me, but I think in general, women are good at those things. It’s the small details that matter, so you don’t make your customers wait.
Sarah Haberkorn: The purchase and financing of a new home can be an emotional process at times and sometimes the customer needs more than just a loan and a quick closing. They need a guide and an ally in their corner, which is something I think that many women are good at. We are great at listening and being that helping hand. I have also met many female Realtors and having that commonality can establish stronger relationships.
Which advice would you give other females who are just beginning their career in the mortgage industry?
Virna Brown: I think for a new person starting out in this industry, I would tell them you can learn from anybody and everybody. You learn just as much from your failures as you do your successes. Working hard never hurt anybody. Listen to your gut and love what you do. If you don’t love what you do, you aren’t going to be successful in the future or the present.
Nicole Kittredge: I would give this advice to anyone getting into the real estate industry. Keep going even if times are lean in the mortgage industry. Sometimes, a customer or partner’s behavior can be disheartening, so I have found being an eternal optimist is key. This mindset keeps me going through the tough times. Just brush it off, stay positive and keep going!
Sarah Haberkorn: I think consistency is key. You must set a game plan. It takes perseverance and time to establish yourself in the industry. Also, you need to find something that sets yourself apart from the competition. Be sure to know your guidelines and products, so you can set yourself up as the resource for your customers and referral partners. You want to be the first one they think of to call to help navigate any questions.
What do you like about working at Envoy Mortgage?
Virna Brown: The ease to which I can originate a mortgage here, along with the support staff to whom facilitate that, makes working at Envoy an easy choice. Envoy treats their originators fairly and compensates for performance. This is a winning combination.
Nicole Kittredge: You always feel like the grass might be greener on the other side and people tend to switch companies because of that. I have seen ads on social media from previous mortgage companies I have worked at that use images of women and portray a great work-life balance. This was not my experience at those companies. I felt like I was just a number, and my manager would not have known me had he walked past me.
At Envoy, I have met the CEO and have gone to dinner with my underwriters. This company is truly amazing, and I think there is a sort of “southern charm” or kindness like when you go to the south that this company has. I think that southern charm permeates the culture here at Envoy and I plan to be here for life. I love it here!
Sarah Haberkorn: Envoy Mortgage has done a great job during 2020 by adapting and helping us continue to deliver exceptional customer service. They have maintained an exceptional operational staff and helped look at guidelines, while also training us on new software, so we can constantly do our jobs more efficiently.
Virna Brown is a Sales Manager for Envoy Mortgage in Franklin, Massachusetts. She has worked for the organization for over five years. Beginning with a core focus on customer experience, Virna leverages her ability to skillfully build relationships, as well as her past experiences to achieve long-term success.
Nicole Kittredge is a Sales Manager in Medway, Massachusetts for Envoy Mortgage. She has worked with the company for over 10 years. Nicole uses her professionalism, attention-to-detail, and immediate response time to separate herself in business.
Sarah Haberkorn is a Sales Manager in Dover, New Hampshire for Envoy Mortgage. She has worked with the company for over 11 years. For the 11 years she has worked with the company, she has been recognized as a Top Producer in units, as well as volume.
Envoy Mortgage, Ltd.
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