This past year, the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have opened the floodgates to bring the conversation of women’s equality to the dinner table and workplace alike. There’s no denying these movements have changed the dynamic for men and women across the country.
“Show a people as one thing, only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.”
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I’m excited to introduce 7 leaders from On Q who are breaking down barriers to become executives, managers, and leaders in the mortgage industry. I got their takes on Women’s Equality, what it’s like to be a woman in the mortgage industry, how they feel that #MeToo and Time’s Up have changed the workplace, what they would tell their younger selves starting in their career, and more.
Alissa Greene, 24-year-old Vice President of Marketing, graduated from the ASU – W.P. Carey School of Business with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Sports Business with an assortment of accolades and marketing experience. She’s in the marketing driver seat and intends on driving On Q to becoming the most inclusive and recognized mortgage lender in America.
What’s it like to work in an industry led, traditionally, by men?
Austin Lampson: It’s crazy. Most Mortgage Consultants and Underwriters are women. The heels on the street for most mortgage companies are female, but at the top, it’s a boy’s club. However, at On Q it doesn’t feel like that. My opinions and thoughts are heard here.
Alissa Greene: The average age in this industry is 50-something with men predominantly at the table. I feel fortunate that when my ‘boss,’ our visionary and mad scientist of a Founder and CEO, John Bergman, saw my commitment and drive, he wanted to cultivate it. It’s been eye-opening to see and learn how gender biases actually exist, especially in the financial sector. However, what John is doing is showing everyone there’s room at the table for people who see things differently—gender roles aside!
Sabra Taylor is a crucial part of the On Q family. She brings over 35 years of mortgage experience to the team as our National Underwriting Trainer. Taylor is a brilliant, funny, and incredible force for On Q with an immense knowledge of the mortgage industry.
Sabra Taylor: It’s true that this industry is led by men, specifically in upper management categories. Business is built around accomplished people who can perform various functions which supports the stability of a company. Being a woman, it is a “must” to know the business, know the rules of the job, be strong, be confident and always meet expectations. With that, your work will stand for itself and you will be noticed for it and its accomplishments!
Austin Lampson is our top producing Mortgage Consultant based out of Santa Barbara. Lampson has nearly 15 years of experience in the mortgage industry and drives the sales team through her wit, humor, and knowledge.
How do you feel women should be defined in the workplace?
Joselinne Spertina: I don’t feel that we should be defining women in general. If we’re defining anything in the workplace, it should be profession, work ethic, and what is being brought to the table. There’s no difference between a man and a woman in the workplace. We’re all equal.
AG: That’s an odd question to me because if we’re discussing equality, there shouldn’t be a real difference in how men or women are defined in the workplace. Since we’re not there yet, I do think it’s important to talk about how women shouldn’t be defined. Women aren’t bratty when they stand up from themselves. Women also have to stop seeing each other as competition and we’ve got to stop being defined as caretakers in the workplace. We’re all adults, and we all show up to produce excellent work and grow, so we need to move on to bigger and better things if this can get pushed aside.
Erin Dueck is the glue that holds On Q together. Dueck is the CEO’s Executive Assistant and supports the sales team, but she works tirelessly to make everyone at On Q feel at home. Dueck is hilarious, supportive, brilliant, and a pillar to the On Q family.
Erin Dueck: As women strive to level the playing field and break that proverbial glass ceiling in their individual industries, women should be cognizant to not work against each other but rather to work with each other. Women need to bring other women with them as they advance in their careers. Women need to make it a priority to mentor other women who are just getting started and share those a-ha moments of “if I only knew then what I know now” and guide and coach other women to be the best at what they do.
If you could sit down and meet anyone, who would it be and why?
Kelly Fulcher: I would want to meet President Ronald Reagan. Granted, I met him once before, but that was in 1997, so that meeting consisted of a shy handshake and a photo op. Now, I would love an opportunity to meet him and ask him about carving his path to the Presidency. President Reagan made a remarkable industry transition, and I’d like to ask him how he overcame the negativity of other people and stepped up to do what he knew needed to be done.
Joselinne Spertina originally went to college for law enforcement, but serves as On Q’s incredible Human Resources Manager. Spertina lives her open door policy and creates an open and inclusive culture. She’s creative, intuitive, brilliant, and a critical component to the On Q family.
JS: The first person I think of is Michelle Obama. She screams female empowerment, versatility, and strength. She’s an ambassador, supporter, and mother; she’s incredibly bold and confident. I would love to sit down with her and pick her brain and ask how she does it all.
ST: Michelle Obama, as well; I would ask what were some of the challenges and benefits of being the First Lady Michelle Obama.
Neda Sadegh: This is easy, my idol Susan B. Anthony. She was committed to social equality for both women and people of color. In the 1800’s when women and African Americans were undervalued, she bravely fought for our equality. She was smart, courageous, open-minded, and forward thinking. As a result, she created significant changes in America. She had a life-long commitment to making a change in people’s lives.
Neda Sadegh has over 15 years of experience in the mortgage industry. As Product Development Specialist, Sadegh loves tackling new challenges and learning new things in her role every day. She’s intelligent, passionate, and generous and a crucial piece to the On Q family.
How do you feel #MeToo and Time’s Up have changed the workplace dynamic for men and women? Do you think that having men as advocates is important to this dynamic?
JS: #MeToo and Time’s Up brought awareness and a platform for women to speak out against sexual violence and harassment. Sexual violence and harassment don’t discriminate. It applies to all genders. We shouldn’t be addressing just one gender when it comes to who should be an advocate; it should be everybody. All genders are created equal and this movement should apply to everyone.
AG: The only way that we can keep climbing toward an equal workplace for men and women is with men on board. Until men begin to speak up in the workplace, no one is going to notice there are differences of how women are treated or seen. #MeToo and Time’s Up were beautifully critical to having this conversation in the workplace and it not be taboo.
Kelly Fulcher graduated with a 4.0 GPA in her Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Special Events Management. Fulcher is On Q’s Marketing Manager by day and a local theatre actor and community chorus singer by night. Whimsical, grounded, and smart, Fulcher brings a creative approach to every problem she encounters.
What would you tell your younger self about starting in your career field?
KF: I settled for a lot of “that could work” in my early career because I was always searching for what I thought I could tolerate, and not paying attention to what I really want to spend my life doing. Younger self, don’t settle for “that could work.” Find your passion and go after it.
AG: When I was younger I was never treated differently by my dad. He would come home and throw the football with me. I was raised like that, so when I started my first job, it was a complete shock to me. So my biggest advice is to be aware of the inequality and know there will be a difference in how you’re treated because you’re a woman. It’s also important to make a change when your career isn’t being served if you’ve landed in the wrong place. Having a leader who supports and challenges me is a minimum requirement for me.
NS: Don’t be afraid of the unknown and allow your lack of self-confidence to get in the way of advancing your career. If your record shows that you’re very good at what you do and a manager approaches you to take on a higher position, take on the challenge. There isn’t anything that reading and research can’t help you figure out.
ST: Do not treat the workplace as a “job” but focus on the job as a “career.” Take hold of your career path, learn it well and stay focused! Seize opportunities that are challenging.
ED: Take more risks. It can be frightening to put yourself out there, especially if you are in an industry traditionally led by men. However, you need to speak up if you are going to be heard. Whether you’re a man or woman, you have to continue to speak up no matter how many times you hear “no.”
JS: I would tell my younger self to speak up if I strongly believed in something, to find a mentor to guide me on the right path, don’t settle for less than what you think you’re worth, and find a work-life balance. The only person who will care for your well-being is yourself.
What’s the biggest barrier you’ve encountered and who’s been the biggest ally in your career?
KF: The biggest barrier I’ve encountered is of my own making. I’ve often told myself that I can’t accomplish what I want by brushing it off as impossible. My biggest ally has been my dad. He never lets me settle for less than I deserve and encourages me to work hard to get it, teaching me that I won’t be handed anything I don’t earn. He’s the first one to call me out for not working hard enough and the first one to pick me up why I cry. He’s the epitome of a support system, and I wouldn’t be where I am without him.
AL: People tend to judge a book by its cover. They don’t think I have experience in the mortgage industry until they sit down and I prove to them I do. My greatest allies are the business and realtor partners that believe in the service we give and believe in that partnership.
JS: My biggest barrier would have to be that I had to learn everything myself. I was self-taught. I didn’t always have the tools, resources, or leadership to do my job. 7 years ago, I created my own department at a different company with little guidance and knowledge. It was up to me to learn enough about what I was doing and running with it.
I have two incredible allies, one professionally and one personally. The first is my boss Shirley, Senior Vice President of Compliance and HR. Shirley took me under her wing and gave me the support and guidance I needed. She helped me create a voice for myself at On Q and was able to give me that platform.
My personal ally would have to be my boyfriend. He’s always been there for me and especially during a very drastic career transition. When I was studying for HR exams and when I’m having HR struggles, he’s my number one supporter and my number one fan. My boyfriend has given me courage when I didn’t feel I had it.
How do you want to be remembered?
KF: All I can ask for is that the people I love remember me fondly after I’m gone. I want my friends to remember all the good things we shared together, and I want my family to remember all the moments of love we shared. I want to be remembered as a good friend. While few people will remember what I said or sang, but they’ll remember how I made them feel, and I hope it was good!
ST: Remember me as one who has been privileged to gain from the industry and who always strives to give back/share with others what has been learned.
AL: I want to be remembered as someone who helped everyone become the best version of themselves. I want to help people achieve their dreams anyway I can and treating everyone as a valued part of society.
What does equality mean to you?
ED: When we talk about Women’s Equality, I feel people immediately think of men versus women. Celebrating women’s equality should not solely focus on an “us vs. them” tug of war. I think it should reinforce that, yes, both men and women should be given the same opportunities, resources, and rights under the law, which unfortunately is not always the case in some areas. However, when I think about Women’s Equality, I also think about equality among women.
ST: Equality means being judged based on knowledge, ethics, character, morals, and the manner in which one displays habits, regardless of what my physical characteristics display.
What do you love most about your job?
NS: Where do I start? My job has never become mundane. I’m always learning something new, meeting new people and building new friendships. My job allows me to get creative and teach others all that I’ve learned.
ED: I love On Q’s people. I joined On Q over seven years ago when we had around 120 employees. Today, we are near the 700 mark. In a highly visible support role, it has been an exciting journey to get to know and work with so many people from coast to coast, to watch them grow within their own careers, and take the company to the next level in such a short period. I don’t travel outside of corporate very often, but when I do, I look forward to face-to-face conversations, hugs from folks I talk to on a regular basis but haven’t seen in years, and simply being energized by those that make On Q great. On Q is very technology focused. As much as we all benefit from communicating within the app, texts, emails, and social media posts, the human aspect is hands down the best part of my job.
What’s your definition of “success”?
KF: Financial freedom and a solid work/life balance. If I can pay my rent on time every month, buy groceries and whatever else I want, AND pursue my passion for singing and theatre, then I am a success.
AL: Success to me is feeling comfortable in your own skin, realizing we have an abundance of support and things, and it’s the way you treat people. It’s not material things. It’s not the car you drive or the watch you own. Making someone smile – that’s success.
All of these incredible women make up the fabric of On Q. They bring a variety of perspectives to the business from creative to conventional; these women exemplify how On Q lives and breathes “The Dream is Inclusive.”
Diversity has made its way into most companies, but inclusivity is still lacking. We have incredible female leaders across the country, but they’re still fighting for inclusivity and their seat at the table. My advice to men in any workplace would be to support your female peers and teammates in their careers. As for women, my advice would be to keep propelling yourself and your career into the trajectory you want. The women in this article have proven that the future beams of female leadership across the country and in the mortgage industry itself.