Throughout history women around the world have challenged the norm and continually broken the glass ceilings and barriers that society has placed around them. In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, I’m excited to share the experiences, advice, and stories from some of the incredible women here at On Q.
“Do not live someone else’s life and someone else’s idea of what womanhood is. Womanhood is you.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Ariel Faitz: The best piece of advice I got was probably from my dad, and he always tells me, even to this day, ‘work to live, don’t live to work.’ I will give something my all, but I won’t let it stress me out to the point where I can’t enjoy my life and he taught me that. Another piece of advice I tell myself sometimes is, ‘the way you’re feeling right now isn’t how you’ll feel tomorrow.’ It’s just a way to remind myself that things are temporary and not to stress too much about it.
Emilie Malone: “You can’t control what happens, but you can control how you react to it.” I received that advice in therapy, and it really helped me during a really stressful time in life.
Emilie Malone is an important part of the On Q Marketing Team as the Marketing Project Manager. Her drive, humor, and support are critical to making On Q Financial the best independent mortgage lender in the country.
Bernetta Johnson: Being unique is not it’s a curse; it’s a blessing. The world needs unique people to be continually improving and thinking outside the standard expectation.
Sophia Ballinger: Hope is not a strategy. You can’t rely on something working out if you want it done; do something to make it happen.
Sophia Ballinger is a part of On Q’s Business Development team as North Carolina’s Regional Business Development Director. She has over 18 years of experience in the finance industry including 6 years as a Mortgage and IT Recruiter. Sophia is incredibly compassionate, strong, and creative. She’s a pillar to the BD team.
Tara Taylor: As cliché as this sounds, the best advice I received is, “don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Who’s your biggest role model? Why?
Faitz: My biggest role model has to be my dad. He grew up poor in New York and when he was old enough, he joined the Marines, got married, and had my brother and me. He always encourages and reminds me that I’m capable of doing anything I want and pushes me to be the best version of myself.
Taylor: My mom was my biggest role model; she worked hard and did not let where she came from define her. She led by example and by doing so, instilled in me strong, solid values. I live each day to make my mom proud.
Ariel Faitz is one of On Q’s Human Resources Coordinators at On Q’s Corporate HQ. She’s a new but vital part of the On Q family. Her tenacity and passion for corporate culture and employee engagement have already made a huge impact on the team.
Ballinger: My Aunty Pearl, she left Jamaica when she was 17 years old to study in London. She has a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of London. She migrated again to the US to join her sisters and became a teacher in NY for over 30 years. She has dedicated her life to learning and traveling. She has walked the Great Wall of China, and visited South Africa. She has pushed all her nieces and nephews to get an education and has even helped with the financing. In 2008, she was honored in New York with the Harriet Tubman Award for her perseverance in education. None of her achievements were hampered by her two successful bouts with cancer. Today, she is 89 years old and her sound advice to her family and friends, “Never give in or give up!”
What impact would you like to leave for the next generation?
Taylor: I want the next generation to know that hard work, and “doing the right thing no matter what” will pay off.
Tara Taylor is our Vice President of Post Closing and Servicing and boasts an incredible resume in the mortgage industry. Tara is incredibly smart, driven, and essential part of the On Q family and Operations team.
Johnson: I have 2 Millennials and I always tell them not to go with the status quo, be who you are, step outside your comfort zone, and do what you feel in your heart is the best thing for you and don’t worry about what people say. That’s what I’d like the next generation to know.
Ballinger: In a broad sense, I would like to be remembered as a compassionate, loving, philanthropic and driven person. I would like to leave knowing I have made a difference in the lives of people I have touched in my lifetime. When I’m gone, I want others to remember me smiling. In a more specific and personal way, I’d like to contribute to the development of young people who have lost their way/homeless, by giving them a home and teaching them a trade in culinary arts…..“A Second Chance.”
If you weren’t in the role you’re in now, what would you be doing?
Faitz: If I wasn’t in my current position, I’d either be doing hair or opening up my own bakery or boutique so I could be my own boss. There’s something about creating a business and being your own boss that’s really fulfilling and that way one day I wouldn’t have to live to work and could enjoy life.
Bernetta Johnson is On Q’s Vice President of Southeast Operations. She has over 20 years of experience in the mortgage industry. She’s intelligent, passionate, generous, and her ability to think outside the box makes her a crucial piece to the On Q family.
Taylor: If I was not in my current role, I would most likely be working in something related to law enforcement, maybe an attorney.
Johnson: I would either be a Psychologist because I’ve been told I have the ability to listen to people and see both sides of the spectrum without judgment or a lawyer because I love to research things and I love to argue with the best of them. I love the intensity and interaction of the conversation.
What do you do in life that brings you the most joy?
Taylor: Spending time with my family and my 3 dogs. I also love to travel.
Where do you see women being in the next 10 years within the workplace and society?
Malone: I think we will see women in at least 50% of leadership positions. We’re listening to women’s ideas more and more now, and are realizing they’re some of the best ones yet.
Is there something you’ve learned from another woman that has made an impact in your life?
Malone: I’ve learned very important and valuable lessons from many women. Two that come to mind are ‘don’t settle, you deserve the best,’ which my mom constantly reminds me, and ‘don’t worry about trying something that doesn’t work out, there will be even better opportunities that come from that experience,’ from my grandma I realize the truth in my mom’s words as I get older, and my grandma’s advice often brings a great perspective to my decision making.
What are you most grateful for?
Faitz: I’m so grateful for my family and my upbringing. It really shaped me into who I am and made me realize that “no” isn’t acceptable to me and I should give 130% to whatever I set my mind to.
Malone: I’m extremely grateful to have a supportive network of family and friends; their belief in me and encouragement keep me going.
Ballinger: I am grateful for my health. In 2009, I developed a debilitating nerve condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia. Although very few have heard of TN as it is often called, it is considered one of the most painful medical conditions known. It causes severe facial pain that is often described as burn, stabbing or electrical shocking in the eye, ear or jaw. There is no cure for TN and the nerve medications used to calm the nerves are hit and miss, mostly miss. In 2017, when medication no longer eased the pain, and the pain became unbearable, I elected to undergo brain surgery. Today, two years later, I am pain-free, doing well and very grateful for my health and healing.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Taylor: International Women’s Day means taking time to celebrate women’s contributions and achievements. It is a time to recognize how far we have come, but yet discuss what still needs to be done. We have a long way to go.
If you’ve been to another country, was there any difference in the way women were treated than in the United States?
Faitz: I was born in Hawaii but moved a lot since my dad was in the Marines, so I got to live in Japan, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia so there’s a lot of differences for women in the U.S. As women, we have rights in the United States, but I’ve been to other countries where (on paper) women don’t have the same rights, but these women can still be just as vocal and outspoken.
Ballinger: I was born in Jamaica, a country that I love very much, but it’s not built to offer second chances for women who get off track for whatever reasons. Their lives become “make or break,” so in my view, because of this the women on the island are typically very strong, visionaries of what they can achieve and they do not take or accept foolishness.
These women are essential to the On Q family. Their tenacity, experience, and perspectives are a huge part of what keeps On Q functioning. They bring fresh ideas and continue to challenge the status quo to help their teams and one another. I’m incredibly honored to call them peers and take a moment to share their story as part of a month dedicated to celebrating women and their history. I can’t wait to see what they all do next.