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Mortgage Moms

For Love or Money?

Ashley Gravano
Ashley Gravano
A young family sits together on the floor of their living room
A young family sits together on the floor of their living room

Likely none of us wanted to be in the mortgage business when we were kids. We wanted to be something different or something that did not necessarily result in a career. For me it was a dancer, like the backup dancers on stage or on Broadway in the Big Apple. 

Well, that didn’t happen. I was 19 years old and waitressing at Bertucci’s and a friend said, “you need to come work with me at PHH Mortgage.” I laughed of course and said, “what do I know about mortgages?” and her response was, “you’ll learn!”

So, there I was slinging pizzas and I figured why not. I can still pursue the dreams! After six short months of working in the PHH mailroom, like Michael J. Fox in Secret of My Success, I fell in love with the hustle, the people, and the culture. It was a family. We all felt the same way. Every day I woke up excited to swipe my badge. I learned so much and met so many great people that I still call family. I fell in love with the opportunities in front of me, putting aside the passions of the younger me. 

Here I am now 22 years later having conversations with my kids: I tell them regularly to not settle. Follow your heart, have balance. You can have a career and still follow dreams. Although dancing didn’t pan out for me professionally, I still dance at the club, a wedding, or my living room. The me today is happy that I was fortunate enough to have found a new passion that happens to be rewarding in so many different aspects.

I asked these Moms the following questions as we wrapped up the first quarter. 

What advice would you give other women/moms in the industry on how to follow their love/passion? Did you follow your love? 
From a mom’s point of view, what mom hacks/tips would you give other moms or how do you guide your children about following their love or passion while having a career?

Britany Luth

Finance of America Reverse LLC
SVP of Best Practices

Did I expect to be in the mortgage industry when I was growing up? Definitely not. 

Is this where I want to be now? A resounding 100 percent! From the time I began high school, I have always had a passion for All. Of. The. Creative. Things. My first career choice was interior design. In fact, I was pursuing that during college when I got started in the mortgage industry almost two decades ago.

Since then, my mortgage career has progressed, and it’s been my primary focus and joy. I love the ever-changing and adaptive nature of the industry. There is always something new to learn. Plus, it keeps me on my toes! I have also been blessed to work for most of my career at the same amazing company that values its employees and continually advocates their pursuit of their passions, even if that route takes them somewhere else.

I leverage my interior design passion and skills by remodeling homes, taking on occasional interior design projects, and featuring my work on social media pages that I created to share my passions and talents. 

My approach enables me to control how and when I feed my creative spirit. It also allows me to own something that is just “mine.” It provides me with a rewarding outlet to do what I love while pursuing my creative dreams and supporting my family. 

I also somehow find the time to be a mom to three (very wild) boys, all under the age of 4, which complicates things. As I write this, they are screaming and jumping on the couch next to me, so believe me, I get it! When it comes to advice, one perspective I have gained over the years is that you cannot do everything all the time. However, I believe it is possible to have all the things you want. 

Now, that may seem counter intuitive, but it really rings true for me. I believe that one must decide on a personal order of priorities. Fill the buckets of your life that are most important to you within your available bandwidth. So, for love or money (or family for that matter)? I think the answer to all is yes! If you find yourself all-in on one of those, you’re really missing out.  

Life is about balance. You can and should have them all. 

I chose a career that challenges and interests me and allows me to do something different every day. 

And when the stresses of a fast-paced industry get to me, I can feed my personal passion through my creative side.

Lauren Dobie

Family First Funding LLC
Marketing Director

In my experience, the key is finding that perfect balance where you can love what you do while still building a strong career path. Was my dream job “marketing director of a mortgage company”? Definitely not, but I’ve always had a love for creativity, helping others, and problem-solving, all of which I’m able to do on a daily basis. 

I majored in accounting in college and I had every intention of pursuing a career in it after graduation, but during my last semester I took on a marketing assistant role at a title company just to get my foot in the door somewhere. Not only did I not have a clue what title insurance was, but I had very little experience other than taking a graphic design course, so at the time the pay was minimal. I was later offered an accounting position for the same company but had really grown to love marketing and decided to stay put, even though it meant a lower paycheck and a lot of new skills to learn. 

I never would have guessed that single decision would bring me to where I am today. My advice to others is if you’re struggling between doing what you love or taking the higher-paying job, always choose love! I am grateful every day to love what I do and be able to contribute income for my family.

Having a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old I’m far from an expert on mom life, but I do know that I will prioritize teaching them the importance of following your heart and staying true to yourself, not to aim for the highest paying job out there. Money is important, but if that is your only motivator it will never be enough. 

Heidi Belnay

Partnership Manager

Barry Habib tells a story about a driving course where the instructor asked him where he typically looked as he drove. Barry said he looked at the car in front of him. The instructor set a water bottle on the ground and asked Barry to step back about 20 feet from it. He then asked Barry to look at the bottle. While looking at the bottle, he asked if Barry could see the road sign ahead. Barry said that he could not. Then he asked Barry to look at the road sign, and while looking at it if he could still see the bottle of water. Barry said yes!  

An aha moment.  

The instructor explained that you should always be looking ahead at the road and never just one car ahead because when you look far enough ahead you can still see both while anticipating better for what is farther ahead. 

It is true, while growing up, I never ever dreamt that I would end up in the mortgage industry. But what I did dream of most, especially after losing my own mom as a teenager, was being a mom. I graduated college with a dual major in Psychology and Elementary Education. 

Hey, I loved kids so why not spend all day with them. At the time it sounded like the dream job for me. In the end, I was not able to set up a life as a teacher that made sense with my true passion of becoming a mother myself. I love children, but what I wanted most was to have my own!

Like so many of us in this space, I landed here unexpectedly. But I am in my dream job. I get to work with and meet people from all over the country. I love to hear everyone’s stories and build relationships. I love each crazy new day (okay, well most of them!). This space is so unique in that it is such a big, yet still somehow a tight knit, community of people and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it. I cannot imagine myself anywhere else but right here.

In the end I can proudly say that I got it all. My dream job while at the same time being the mother of the sweetest, most high-spirited little girl you will ever meet. And this year I have even been able to test out that teaching degree while she does virtual kindergarten side-by-side with me. Tell me that isn’t fate! 

This article was originally published in the Mortgage Women Magazine May 2021 issue.
Ashley Gravano
Ashley Gravano

Ashley Gravano is vice president of product solutions at Mortgage Cadence.

Published on
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