Recognizing The 40 Under 40 Unleashing Their Talents

National Mortgage Professional salutes the mortgage industry’s rising stars

40 Under 40 2023
40 Under 40 honoree, Tariq D. Bailey, 40, Branch Manager, MortgageDepot

In every profession, the future is written by the next generation. They bring fresh perspectives and new energy. The young deliver a point of view unhindered by dogma nor constrained by convention.

We all know young leaders inspiring others through their professionalism and accomplishments. NMP Magazine asked for your nominations and you came through with a diverse and talented selection of 40 people truly unleashing their talents to better the mortgage industry.

Honorees were selected based on their industry contributions and impact. Some are already top executives while others should quickly see their careers headed there.

Congratulations to NMP Magazine’s 40 under 40 winners for 2023. We know you will be impressed with these young professionals as much as we were.

Patrina Amato

Patrina Amato

31
VP, Lending Support
United Wholesale Mortgage

 

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
One of my long-term career goals is to aid in the continuous growth of the broker channel. It has been a source of pride to see independent mortgage brokers gain market share and I want to continue to contribute to that growth.

It’s vital to find ways to support mortgage brokers whenever possible. Innovating current products to meet today’s needs while creating new technology to address the needs of the future ensures that brokers are put in the best position to succeed.

Another long-term goal is to help as many team members as possible grow. I would not have been able to reach the point where I’m at if it wasn’t for those around me who were willing to show me what the path to success looks like. I want to pay it forward and help build the next generation of leaders.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
I want to remain at the forefront and act as a driving force for the way our industry transforms and evolves. Likewise, I want to help UWM team members grow in their careers; empower them to challenge our processes and think of better ways to close loans easier and faster. The more minds we have thinking of ways to improve, the better we can grow the industry together for UWM and mortgage brokers alike.

Watch it on The Interest: Celebrating The Movers And Shakers


Akshaan Arora

Akshaan Arora

35
SVP — Capital Markets
Prosperity Home Mortgage

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
I find motivation in the ever-evolving nature of our industry. Mortgage markets are dynamic, influenced by economic shifts, regulatory changes, and technological advancements. This dynamism fuels my drive to stay at the forefront of our field. Staying competitive in this environment demands continuous learning, adaptation, and innovation. It is this constant challenge that keeps me inspired.

Moreover, I draw inspiration from my colleagues and mentors in the mortgage industry. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a community of professionals who share their experiences, insights, and enthusiasm, pushing each other to raise the bar.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
Innovation and creativity are integral components of my approach, and I consider them essential to my success. I foster a culture of innovation by encouraging team members to share ideas and be open to experimentation. Innovation can come from anyone at any level, so I ensure that all voices are heard and ideas are considered.

Collaboration is key to driving innovation. I encourage cross-functional teams where employees from various departments work together. This diversity of perspectives often leads to more creative solutions especially when dealing with complex challenges.

When we try new approaches and they don’t succeed, we analyze what went wrong and apply those lessons to future endeavors.


Tariq D. Bailey

Tariq D. Bailey

40
Branch Manager
MortgageDepot

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
What motivates me to excel in my field is my inherent competitiveness and a constant desire to be the best version of myself. Complacency is the antithesis of my approach to work. I am driven by the need to accomplish more, to surpass my own previous achievements, and to avoid settling into a routine that might hinder my growth. This restlessness fuels my determination to excel.

Additionally, I maintain a supportive network of peers and mentors who provide encouragement and share insights. Collaboration and sharing ideas with like-minded individuals invigorate my creativity and drive.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
Mentorship and Education: I aim to impart my knowledge and experience to the next generation of MLOs. My focus is on instilling in them the essential perspective of viewing each loan scenario as a broker would and emphasizing the client’s journey towards successful homeownership.

Comprehensive Problem-Solving: By sharing my strategies for comprehensive problem-solving with aspiring MLOs, I can equip them with the skills and mindset needed to overcome challenges and find creative solutions.

Innovation and Technology: By actively adopting and integrating state-of-the-art technologies, I can play a pivotal role in simplifying procedures, boosting operational efficiency, and elevating the overall quality of customer interactions.


Chelsea Balak

Chelsea Balak

32
Vice President of Operations
Wemlo

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
I grew up in a family of strong Italian women, each successful in their career path. It has been important to carve my own path while still adding to our overall legacy. I have allowed myself to step out of their shadows and excel in the mortgage industry.

I stay inspired through coaching and networking. I love to mentor new managers or provide perspective for seasoned leaders.

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
Pivoting is a skill that I love to flex. I really learned how to do this when wemlo was in the startup phase. We would test a theory, gather data on it, and if the process wasn’t successful, we would make changes. I learned how not to be tied to a process but rather its outcome. If you define success based on the result, finding the right path becomes easier. The ability to adapt becomes easier if you stay up to date on what is happening in the market.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
I am a big proponent of visionary leadership and will continue to instill that in anyone I have the opportunity to mentor. I love to “ask what if,” and challenging the status quo will only bring the mortgage industry to higher levels.


Jonathon Barnes

Jonathon Barnes

39
President
VanDyk Mortgage Corp.

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
People. The people you surround yourself with are the difference between average and excellence. Ensuring that I am never the smartest person in the room and continuing to live in a mindset of curiosity. I want to see those around me be given an opportunity to realize their dreams.

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
Networking with those in the industry and engaging with a number of industry groups and committees are still the best ways to stay informed of what’s going on across this industry. The adaption piece is entirely about staying away from the concept that “this is the way it’s always been done” is how business is done. Being able to pivot quickly with a decision and take action are essential in being able to survive and thrive in today’s market.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
Too often we look to technology to be the motivation behind innovation and creativity. Technology is there to make the user better and more efficient, not replace them. Every day, I ask questions, not to challenge what’s being done, but to understand why it’s being done and try to find a new, more efficient way to the same or better result. I welcome feedback and criticism, these are the things that influence innovation and creativity.


Jay Birong

Jay Birong

37
Chief Information Security Officer
Xactus

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
Knowing what’s at stake in protecting such sensitive data helps me keep my eye on the ball. 

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
The information security community is fast-moving and highly collaborative, and as such, social media platforms like X and Mastadon are extremely valuable. Threat actors and the available tools and tactics move at what seems to be light speed, so it’s helpful to see how others have found success and failure.

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
Over the next few years, I aim to continue to spearhead the development and implementation of information security and data protection protocols to help ensure that Xactus’s products are not only industry-leading in capabilities but also fortified against the future threat landscape.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
In many cases, implementing controls from a technical perspective is not the challenging part, but rather designing controls to meet and exceed requirements while also protecting the experience of our employees and customers. Thinking outside of the box and challenging the status quo are critical parts of that design process.


Lauren Blackburn

Lauren Blackburn

34
Director of Marketing
American Financial Resources

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
I regularly talk with home buyers, home sellers, and industry professionals to gain insights into their experiences, needs, and the challenges they face. This helps me keep a pulse on the market, understand evolving trends, and identify areas where improvements are needed. By staying connected and learning from those directly involved in the housing market, I can respond effectively to changes and better serve the community.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
Innovation and creativity are paramount, both within my position as marketing director and within the mortgage industry as a whole. These factors play a crucial role in success because they enable us to provide unique financing solutions as well as be creative in expanding our reach. Both creativity and innovation come into play when addressing the diverse needs of families and making home financing solutions more accessible.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
I see myself contributing by driving positive change and helping to highlight affordable housing solutions to families. By collaborating with like-minded organizations and advocating for housing accessibility, I hope to inspire others in the field to prioritize the well-being of families in need. Through these efforts, I envision a future where housing is more inclusive.


Samantha Bowie

Samantha Bowie

37
Senior Loan Officer
First Heritage Mortgage

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
This is another reason why I love my job. It’s never boring and always changing. Knowledge is power, and I dedicate myself to learning something new every day. You will always face obstacles in this industry, and I love turning them into opportunities. My motto for years has been “doing what others cannot,” and one of the main reasons is knowing there is a solution to every problem.

Additionally, I love to read and learn. You must be a guideline expert to find solutions. I love attending as many conferences, trainings, and lunch & learns as I possibly can, which allows me to see where the market is going and adjust accordingly.

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
I plan on opening my own branch in the next year and hiring a few more loan officers to join my team. My long-term goal is to focus on business development. I love being able to grow my builders’ and Realtors’ businesses, which in turn grows my team’s business. I will add one new builder per year to become their preferred lender and assign different loan officers on my team to those new accounts. I believe you will see the construction-to-perm business pick up in the future, and we are experts in that currently, which will open many doors for us in the future.


PJ Crescenzo

PJ Crescenzo

26
Vice President of Sales
APM — Carolinas

Short Bio:
Responsible for overseeing all aspects of production, operations, & marketing as the Vice President of Sales. PJ is a system-driven leader & has helped multiply production for the APM Carolinas division exponentially over the last 4 years.

Significant Industry Contributions
Contributed to the development and implementation of sales strategy and file follow practices for a top 10 national lender. Additionally, PJ has been a featured guest on Mortgage Marketing Radio and involved with the Real Producers Organizations in several South Carolina markets.

Why does this person deserve to be recognized as one of this year’s 40 Under 40?
In a short career, PJ has succeeded at a high level as a loan officer, sales leader, and developer of new mortgage talent. He has shown a desire to give back to both mortgage professionals and potential homeowners. PJ has developed a culture of changing lives by working with clients everyone else has overlooked. Many of his customers are the first people in their families to accomplish the dream of homeownership. He is truly changing lives and communities.

Area of Expertise:

  • Originations (Volume or unique approach)
  • Technology
  • Community Participation
  • Industry Participation

Jonathon Haddad

Jonathon Haddad

32
President
Next Door Lending

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
I just had twins and that has completely changed my life. What inspires me the most is the thought of being 80 years old one day and my kids or anyone asking me how my life was.

I work hard to ensure I never have to lie whenever someone asks me that question when I am older.

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
The more events you can attend, the more you learn. Being in the trenches with your people is the best way to stay on top of all the changes.

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
In the next five years, the goal is to be a consistent top five mortgage broker in the country. In the next 10 years, I would love to go after my dream, which is public speaking.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
I want to be known as a workhorse who is relentless and gives back to the broker community. I believe I will contribute my resources to the entire broker space. Contributing and providing value takes time, but as I was taught by my mentor. “Changing people’s lives starts with one person at a time.” That is the approach I will have with everyone I come in contact with.


Molly Hoskins

Molly Hoskins

38
EVP, Client Experience
Class Valuation

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
My primary goal is to refine our operational processes to provide the best possible client experience to our lenders and client users. Class Valuation has been active in the M&A world! We have many talented leaders and team members from successful businesses we have acquired, and I am excited to meld practices and talents into the best organization possible. I gained valuable experience from my former company working with the technology groups in writing business logic for operational tools for QC Review, USPAP Compliance, and even order management software. We have incredible tech and data resources in-house, and I am excited to play a role in the architecture of new tech tools and platforms here at Class.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
I set aside time for creativity and strategy. I block it off and protect it in my calendar just as I do with meetings and projects. I use this time to read industry and market updates, connect with peers and mentors, brainstorm, mind map, and look out toward the next three to six months. I also let my mind wander as I’m doing menial tasks such as laundry or vacuuming. I let the ideas flow, and it feels efficient as I’m multitasking. I find that being creative is essential to my work.


Jane Hughes

Jane Hughes

30
Director, Community Investment
Newrez

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
My long-term career goals are an extension of what I’m doing now, but with greater consequence. The challenges before us are significant, including but not limited to the stock of affordable housing and accessible lending, increasing diverse representation of mortgage professionals and homeowners alike, and fortifying homes for climate resiliency. Solving them takes commitment and cooperation between the major players in our industry as well as public-private partnerships. I see myself continuing to build those relationships and do the work that achieves measurable progress in solving these challenges.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
I’m a relationship-builder at heart. Rarely does an employee, a nonprofit partner, or a community leader not receive an invitation to get more involved with our programs or an introduction to someone with similar interests. Investments into these key relationships result in improvements to our shared future. Again, I believe the future of our field, and my niche within it, is in the impact that the mortgage industry can make on some of the most pressing issues for our time — affordable housing, equitable and inclusive wealth-creation, and sustainable communities. To do that, we need to become true partners to our customers and communities beyond the mortgage loan ecosystem to support and build vibrant communities across the country.


Mark Illustrato

Mark Illustrato

32
Vice President
Hartford Funding Ltd.

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
I’ve always taken more joy in other people’s success rather than my own. Whether I am on the ball field or in the office, seeing my teammates succeed and achieving our goals together is an incredible feeling. Also, in difficult times like these, I take time to step back from the daily grind and realize what the result of our hard work is: helping people achieve their homeownership dreams. Being a small part of a big achievement in someone’s life is something I take pride in every day.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
If you’re not growing, you’re shrinking. And to sustain growth, you must think outside the box and generate unique ideas to not only separate yourself from others but also create an edge. I am constantly trying to find ways to help our company stand out, increase brand awareness, and develop new business. Change is good. Can’t be afraid to be different.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
As I continue to become more knowledgeable in our industry, I’d like to eventually pass that down to others, share my successes and failures, and help mold the next generation of mortgage bankers. I have my share of mentors, and one day I’d like to pay that back.


Caitlin Jerger

Caitlin Jerger

34
Loan Officer
Academy Mortgage Corp.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
I see myself contributing via mentoring, promoting financial literacy, and fostering inclusivity and diversity within the industry. I’m dedicated to shaping the future of our field through educational initiatives that encourage accessibility and equitable financial knowledge.

To make financial literacy more approachable, I’ll employ various methods, such as gamified learning experiences, interactive workshops, and the development of user-friendly educational content. These strategies aim to break down complex financial concepts, ensuring that people from all backgrounds can comfortably navigate the world of finance.

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
I keep a keen eye on financial news and the bond market … and engage with a network of peers eager to learn and share insights.

Equally important is my willingness to try new strategies and pivot when the industry evolves. This adaptability is key to staying competitive and relevant in the ever-changing mortgage market.

Furthermore, I actively engage with a network of peers who share a passion for learning and knowledge sharing. Collaborating with like-minded individuals, whether through events, forums, or professional associations, allows us to exchange insights and best practices, keeping our collective knowledge current.


Kat Keeton Flanagan

Kat Keeton Flanagan

37
Senior Director of Customer Success
Sagent

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
The infectious energy that’s created as our in-house teams work alongside our servicing customers keeps us all driven and moving forward in the right direction: toward building the future of mortgage servicing together.

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
I want to grow and deepen Sagent’s relationships with its servicing customers, ensure Sagent’s cloud-native servicing platform reflects the challenges of those servicers, and continue to build our strong internal culture.

I also want to continue to find new ways to effectively connect with customers. Since I’ve been at Sagent, we’ve added more intentional, frequent, and remote-friendly touchpoints. That’s already helped us increase attendance at events, craft more impactful messaging, and grow our network of customers over the last 12 months.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
The future of mortgage servicing will require freedom of data, and I will ensure that’s reflected in every product decision that we make. Servicers deserve access to their own data because that helps them empower and understand the complex journeys of the borrowers they serve.


Lindsey Kuhnle

Lindsey Kuhnle

37
Lending Operations Manager
VanDyk Mortgage Corp.

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
I thrive on the rapidly changing landscape. It’s one of the very things that made me fall in love with what I get to do every day. Change in our industry is one of the only consistent things. From our partnerships with the agencies and PMI companies, the additional trainings and resources they offer to our AI technology that is advancing every day, the knowledgeable team members that share their expertise, and social media are all ways that I continue to grow, be challenged, and adapt and help others to do the same. A key concept is not staying in a “this is how it has always been done” mentality and looking at the how and why.

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
When I started in 2008, I had no knowledge of the industry at all. By 2009, I was sitting in our now-acting CEO’s office, telling her that I wanted to be her someday. My goals then were to absorb as much knowledge to continue to grow and advance. Over the last 14 years, I have realized that my goals are also to have a team and be a part of a team that is poured into as I have been poured into. To help the next receptionist who wants to become a CEO believe in themselves and realize those goals.


Peter Kuruc

Peter Kuruc

39
Vice President of Wholesale Operations
American Financial Resources Inc.

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
There’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve played a part in turning someone’s dream into a reality. The awareness of the impact we have and the trust that clients place in us with their most significant investment is what keeps me driven, motivated, and committed to consistently delivering the best service and solutions.

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
Staying informed and adapting is key. This involves subscribing to newsletters, following industry announcements and webinars, engaging with industry experts, attending conferences, and committing to continuous learning. Staying up to date with new information is crucial in our dynamic field.

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
My long-term career goals revolve around my continued dedication to American Financial Resources, where I have proudly contributed for over 19 years. Additionally, I aim to maintain my success as an approachable leader and mentor, fostering the growth of a successful team, enhancing productivity, and streamlining mortgage processes through the adoption of technology. 


Victor Kutnetsov

Victor Kutnetsov

37
Managing Director & Co-Founder
Imperial Fund

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
Number one is — I love what I do. This country gave me an opportunity to do what I wanted, and I want to achieve as much as possible. With time, you grow, and so does your company. Every little milestone is an extra inspiration — the first rating agency review and approval, the first securitization, the first warehouse facility from a big Wall Street bank. These little steps inspire me to make bigger steps and drive me to keep pushing and keep achieving.

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
My goal is to become a top three residential mortgage bond issuer with a stellar performance record. I want to build a company where employees love to work and spend as much time working as possible, helping people across the nation to purchase houses and build their own version of the American dream through homeownership.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
Non-QM is something new to the mortgage industry, with less than a 10-year history. We would like to develop this asset class and contribute to positive changes in market standards related to it. Our company aims to be a part of the regulator decision-making processes on Non-QM regulation to help this sector of the market grow and evolve.


Garrett Locklear

Garrett Locklear

39
Founder & Senior Loan Officer
Locklear Lending & Candid

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
A combination of my passion for innovation and advances in technology and the desire to make a real impact on the lives of homebuyers and mortgage professionals. As a loan originator, I’ve witnessed firsthand the challenges and complexities of the mortgage industry. There is an enormous potential for better experiences from having too many costly and disconnected technology platforms and inconsistent user experiences. This became the driving force for me to build something brand new

The creation of CANDID, our mortgage marketing and sales technology ecosystem, was a pivotal moment. I’m a firm believer in the power of technology to transform traditional processes. Making the homebuying experience more transparent, cohesive, and ultimately more enjoyable for clients has always been a significant motivator.

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
Continuous learning is at the core of my approach, always embracing the role of a student. The moment we start thinking of ourselves as experts is the moment we limit our potential. One must remain open to new ideas, technologies, and approaches.

Managing multiple businesses while tending to newborns can make finding time to stay up to date with industry changes quite challenging. Nevertheless, I make an effort to carve out moments for engaging with new ideas and tuning in to podcasts whenever possible.

Seeking feedback from clients and partners is also an essential practice.


Melinda Maloney

Melinda Maloney

33
Assistant Vice President, Business Line and Field Marketing
ServiceLink

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
My team really motivates me. I work with a group of talented individuals who are committed to pushing and bettering themselves. They produce high-quality work. I also work at an organization that is committed to moving the industry forward from a technological standpoint. I’m constantly motivated to ensure my work complements the innovations put forth by our team.

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
We are lucky in the mortgage industry to have a large lineup of strong organizations and publications that keep us informed, of which I’m an avid consumer. I also work with a lot of subject matter experts who have been in the industry for many years and are always happy to connect me with resources and the latest information. More recently, social media has become another great way to stay up to date.

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
I want to expand my knowledge of the mortgage industry and find new ways to market our latest technology offerings. I’m looking forward to supporting the professional development and growth of my team: they are so passionate about their areas of focus and help grow our organization. In a rapidly changing industry, I’m excited to help ServiceLink, our clients and my team continue to lead the way.


Gregg Moore

Gregg Moore

30
Senior Vice President — Head of Loan Management
CoreVest

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
One of my main goals is to continue growing my career and taking on more responsibility within the company by leveraging the expertise I’ve gained. A priority of mine is to continue to absorb and learn from my colleagues as well as the leaders in the market and also mentor our next generation of leaders.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
One of the biggest ways I want to contribute is through using my position to help foster the growth of others and to be a mentor to those rising through the ranks in this industry. I have been very fortunate to be mentored by some great leaders and I think that is an extremely important role to play. I also want to look to leverage my unique and diverse background to bring new ideas and innovation to this industry.

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
Every day presents a new challenge in the constantly changing real estate environment. I personally enjoy the creative process of building and enhancing workflows and processes. Early on in my career, I had an opportunity to work in multiple departments, which has allowed me to have a broader view and enabled me to contribute and improve workflow efficiencies company wide.


Sharmee Patel

Sharmee Patel

40
Chief Financial Officer
Thrive Mortgage

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
There are various resources I tap into regularly. For example, Google is my best friend! This also includes my mentors from previous lives, new mentors I’ve made within the industry, my business coach, and various reading materials, among others. As far as adapting to the rapidly changing landscape in the industry, I have learned to live within it. Being in a constant futuristic thinking mode has allowed me to flow with the hasty changes. It’s the only way not to fall behind.

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
I have recently achieved one of my most significant career aspirations: becoming a CFO. I am now at the beginning of my journey towards becoming the kind of CFO I envision. I believe that the role is not one-size-fits-all, and I’m excited to define my unique approach in this pivotal position.

My background in accounting has provided me with a solid foundation, but I’m eager to expand my horizons by diving deeper into various facets of finance. I will take this opportunity to broaden my skill set, enabling me to make more comprehensive and insightful decisions. My goal is to identify innovative ways to interpret financial data and deliver analytical insights that empower the organization to make the best business choices.


Matt Pettit

Matt Pettit

35
CEO & Co-Founder
Arrive Home

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
Being in housing for the last decade, I have had a front-row seat on the rollercoaster ride that is the mortgage industry. My team and I pride ourselves on staying current on all the latest trends in the market and actively listening to the needs of our correspondent lenders. Honest feedback from our lending partners is a key factor in our team’s ability to create new products and programs that help the borrowers who are most in need of our assistance. Our team prioritizes meeting regularly with our correspondent lenders, and we encourage them to provide us with their honest feedback. In doing so, we have created some of the most unique down payment assistance offerings and non-traditional credit programs in the market today.

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
My goal is to have the “Arrive Home” brand be the most well-respected and reliable affordable housing program available in the industry. My team and I have worked hard to create sustainable program offerings that will assist thousands of potential homeowners and, in doing so, change the face of the American Dream. A down payment should not be a roadblock to homeownership for responsible consumers. Our goal is to increase minority homeownership, decrease the racial wealth gap, and increase generational wealth through equity, one family at a time.


Brandon Posner

Brandon Posner

28
Director — Home Lending Revenue and Industry Insights
PenFed Credit Union

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
The market environment over the past few years has presented no shortage of challenges to solve for our members, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to work with a team equally passionate about learning and evolving to better power our members’ dreams of homeownership.

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
As PenFed Home Lending evolves following the refinance boom, I am excited to grow with the institution and my team, helping shape a greater vision for what it truly means to be a PenFed member. Mortgage is a notoriously behind-in-technology, transaction-focused business, but at PenFed, our mission is to be a trusted advisor for our members along the entire journey of homeownership.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
In a high-rate mortgage market, it is easy to drown in the negative headlines. However, creating a culture of innovation and problem-solving through difficult times is no small task. I am fortunate to work for an institution where this culture is the foundation of every meeting and discussion, and to work alongside industry experts who utilize their decades of experience to creatively solve problems.


Preetam Purohit

Preetam Purohit

39
Head of Hedging and Analytics
Embrace Home Loans

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
I’m fascinated with capital markets, numbers, and human behavior. I’m drawn to the interplay of these factors and how they shape the financial markets. Whether it’s the ebb and flow of interest rates, shifts in investor sentiment, or global economic events, there’s always something happening that keeps you on your toes. My strong interest in these areas is what motivated me to create a fallout model powered by machine learning that predicts the likelihood of loans closing as interest rates and other factors change.

I’m also captivated by what causes people to behave the way they do, as well as what causes changes. The pandemic is a good example. There was initially a damper on housing prices and the mortgage market at the start due to uncertainty, but that rapidly changed.

Most of all, I’m motivated by how my work can impact my company’s bottom line. It’s a powerful feedback loop. It’s not just about analyzing data and making predictions; it’s about making tangible, real-world contributions.

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
I’m an avid reader of mortgage and economic and other market news, which I find key to staying up to date. I also listen to mortgage and economic podcasts and pursue certifications to enhance my skills. Basically, I want to ensure I’m always learning, staying on top of industry developments, and adapting to new technologies.


Brian Ralston

Brian Ralston

38
Chief Mortgage Banking Officer
NexBank

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
I enjoy continually thinking about how we can make things better and more efficient. In every meeting we have about a new process, I am always asking how it can be automated. Working with my team to discuss ideas and issues through collaboration always sparks further innovation and creativity. No one person can ever have the best idea about everything. It is key to ensure that you are always sharing things with others to spark new thoughts and ideas. If you aren’t always thinking about how you can innovate and make things better within your organization, you will be a thing of the past because your competitors will be.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
I believe that the success of our industry hinges on the individuals who are a part of it. I always encourage my team and partners to embrace innovation, challenge the norm, and continuously strive for improvement. My main goal is to find and implement efficient and profitable solutions to the challenges we face whenever possible using creativity and automation. I want to be a catalyst for change, inspiring my teammates, colleagues, and industry partners to think outside the box and be successful. I genuinely hope they would agree that my influence has encouraged them to see things differently and has offered valuable assistance in overcoming hurdles.


Paige H Ringkamp

Paige H Ringkamp

33
Producing Branch Manager
USA Mortgage

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
Consistent motivation can be difficult to maintain, and trust me, I have my days. However, I am fortunate to have been in sports all my life, so the competitive nature comes naturally. Sports also instilled a direct correlation between repetition and results, which is one of the main things that drew me to this industry.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
I will continue to break the mold of a highly male-dominated industry, as well as the societal belief that women cannot be great moms and top-producing professionals at the same time.

Our industry also needs more data-driven loan officers. Loan officers who track their contacts, conversations, appointments, referrals, conversion ratios, etc., and use that data to adjust and adapt as needed. In my experience, tracking and using data has helped reduce the severity of the ebbs and flows of production.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
I strongly encourage coaches and mentors. They challenge me to think outside the box and implement new practices out of my comfort zone. They help me make sure I am in the right mindset, quite possibly the most important factor in maintaining a successful business. It doesn’t matter how creative and innovative I am; if my mindset isn’t where it needs to be, my production will reflect that.


Joseph Rodriguez

Joseph Rodriguez

37
Chief Operating Officer
Absolute Home Mortgage

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
I interact with as many people as possible every single day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend, colleague, or competitor — there is always something to learn. I also love to consume podcasts to get real-world insider views on today’s strategies and market. But the best form of information is my team — they educate me on different facets of the industry every day.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
It’s easy to prioritize innovation and creativity when you’re surrounded by people who appreciate it. The cornerstone of my position is solving problems and normalizing our ability to change, pivot, and adapt. It’s incredible how many of our biggest pivots have come from someone on our team mentioning a small detail that they thought could be improved.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
We will learn from the headwinds of today’s market and make sure we are walking through the open door of opportunity. I’m going to continue to redefine processes and make the industry more attractive to smart, talented people. I’ll continue to adapt by expanding and sharing our methodologies and technology. We will make it more engaging and beneficial to the overall process. We have to bring mortgage origination into the future.


Vincent Roncelli

Vincent Roncelli

31
Senior Partner Development Manager
Rocket Pro TPO

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
One thing I have learned in the past few years is that mortgage professionals are resiliant, and are true masters of their craft. Working alongside the broker community day-in and day-out, navigating the complexities of technology, licensing, compliance, and sales is like a puzzle that keeps me energized every single day.

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
The job market, industries, and technologies are continually evolving - be proactive about updating your skills and knowledge. Attend seminars, workshops, and conferences. Enroll in relevant courses and certification programs. Regularly read industry publications and follow news related to real estate and finance to stay informed about the latest trends. Most importantly, never underestimate a solid relationship; the amount of knowledge you can learn from your peers is priceless.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
Ideas are fundamental to who we are at Rocket Pro TPO. We encourage them. We love them. But ideas alone aren’t enough. It takes both ideas and execution to make great things happen. It takes stamina and commitment to bring innovation to life. I approach the world, my career, and my life with a growth mindset. If I pursue vision with uncompromising passion, then I firmly believe there is nowhere to go but up.


Chris Ruiz

Chris Ruiz

34
Loan Officer
Supreme Lending

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
My business philosophy is focused on the in-person interactions with people I’m able to help every day. My goal is to continue helping put people into homes so they can start building equity, expanding their real estate portfolios, and establishing generational wealth. My target is to serve 200 families during a single calendar year.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
I live by the philosophy, “If they’re not a buyer right now, they will be in the future. It’s just a matter of guiding them to take the right steps so they can get into a home.” And that mindset correlates with offering creative home loan solutions and staying innovative with new technology and processes.

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
The mortgage industry is ever-changing. It’s never been more important to stay up to date on all news and developments, whether it’s new loan programs, market forecasts, or creative mortgage products such as interest rate buydowns and HELOC loans. I regularly attend industry workshops and seminars to learn new strategies so that I can continue to better serve my buyers. It’s important to see what others in the industry are doing and what new technologies or loan programs are available.


Rebecca Seward

Rebecca Seward

31
Director of Product
Ocrolus

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
I will carry on with my work in leading the development of digital solutions that help automate mortgage operations and processes at scale. A lot of areas need improvement within the space, and I look forward to contributing to the evolution of mortgage technology. I will continue to speak directly with industry professionals to help uncover more opportunities for collaboration and innovation. I am proud of the work I have done so far, but I’m just getting started.

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
I hope to strengthen my skillset as a product leader and people manager.

As a product leader, I would like to continue my work of crafting long-term product strategies, working alongside my business partners and customers to make my company more successful. I am extremely futuristic and like to develop an aspirational vision for the product. I’d like to remain focused on effectively scaling the business within the mortgage landscape by delivering best-in-class digital solutions that drive real revenue.

As a people manager, I want my employees to be successful. I want to continue to mentor product managers and effectively scale and lead larger teams. It is my hope that I will one day lead an entire product organization, working alongside leadership teams to drive successful outcomes for the business and its employees.


Adam Shoger

Adam Shoger

41
Executive Vice President
Guaranteed Rate Inc.

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
Absolutely, I aim to continue to establish myself as a thought leader, contributing insights and expertise through speaking engagements and industry collaborations. Being recognized as a trusted authority would not only fulfill a personal aspiration but also reflect positively on my organization. I look to continue making significant contributions to the financial services industry and Guaranteed Rate. This includes more board seats and continuing to take on more leadership roles.

I’m committed to fostering innovation and growth, not only in my own career but also within my team and Guaranteed Rate as a whole. My goal is to empower and mentor the next generation of high-achieving professionals, helping them reach their full potential.

Ultimately, my goal in life is to leave the world better than how I found it. I plan on building products, services, and processes that change the world in a positive way forever.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
Creativity and innovation are not just buzzwords; they’re the backbone of how we think at Guaranteed Rate. They’re the reason why the products and services we have invented have resonated with people and become integral to their professional lives. These factors have played an indispensable role in my success. I continue to prioritize them as the driving forces behind my work. 

Chandra Srivastava

Chandra  Srivastava

37
Chief Marketing Officer
Calque

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
I benefit from talking to our expert advisors, receiving newsletters, listening to podcasts, and consuming other industry updates. This exposure helps me stay in step with current trends and market needs.

As an economist by training, I’m always reading and thinking about news more generally, such as the Fed’s latest decisions, job reports, price of goods, etc., and considering how these may impact the housing market.

I am a professor of marketing, and in this role, I have to update my curriculum every semester. Because much of my coursework is experiential, my students and I experience the changing marketing landscape in real time. Staying up-to-date with marketing isn’t a luxury; it’s a requirement of my job. With that said, no one can stay abreast of everything and I remain humbly aware of that!

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
In the field of marketing, I hope I can continue to be a ‘pracademic’ who spans both theory and practice. This allows me to bring theory, frameworks, and the latest research to marketing implementation in the “real world.”

In the real estate and mortgage industry, I hope to make ‘buy before you sell’ commonplace and the de facto method for homeowners who want to move. This would be a huge shift for the industry, but it would make consumers’ lives so much easier (and I am committed to supporting an option that is affordable).


Brandon Stein

Brandon Stein

33
President
The Loan Store

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
I’m motivated by the dynamic landscape of our industry. Lenders are constantly developing new products, proprietary technology, and working to streamline a notoriously antiquated loan process with modern enhancements. Competition, particularly in the wholesale space, is a powerful driver that encourages me and other industry leaders to constantly seek improvement so that the needle continues to move.

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
With rates eclipsing 20+ year highs, being ahead of the curve can dramatically amplify short-term success. Remaining proactive in approach, anticipating future problems due to the constantly changing landscape and market challenges, then finding a niche to fill those needs can make all the difference whether it is product, price, or service-related. When working to address an issue, I’ve often tried drawing parallels to other industries, in search of an effective common-sense approach that can lead to a resolution.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
Having spent most of my career in wholesale, it has been awesome to experience the migration of market share from retail to TPO. Healthy competition amongst lenders is what drives this benefit to the borrower. It forces all companies, large or small, to raise the bar, innovate, and progress their business and the channel forward.


Michael Sullivan

Michael Sullivan

36
Director of Procurement and Supplier Diversity
Rocket Central / Rocket Companies

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
I am a naturally curious person and enjoy problem-solving, which aligns well with working in a procurement role. Procurement works with product owners to define their third-party support needs and assist with market research to find the right supplier. It’s exciting to play a part in bringing the best solution to the table that helps create a great client journey.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
I am obsessed with finding a better way. No matter how perfect something might appear, I think there is always an opportunity for some level of improvement. I keep my finger on the pulse of new innovative products in the market to ensure we are working with the right suppliers to assist with delivering the best possible service for our clients.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
I believe an inclusive supply chain that is inclusive of diverse suppliers in bid opportunities is the right thing and also good business. Diversity in the supply chain is proven to increase innovation. In the future, I would like to continue assisting with building out a solid network of diverse suppliers that other mortgage or financial service companies can leverage.


Anna Tommasello

Anna Tommasello

30
Marketing Director
Direct Mortgage Loans

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
Change is inevitable, especially in the mortgage industry. If you can’t embrace that, you’ll go crazy. For me, it’s one of the things I love about my job. There are many ways to stay informed about mortgage updates and new marketing initiatives: podcasts, publications like NMP and STRATMOR Group, the Chrisman blog, forums, etc. Find the media you enjoy consuming the most and spend at least 2-3 hours per week educating yourself about the industry. We are the professionals that clients and partners turn to for advice. If we’re not educating ourselves first, how can we best serve their needs?

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
Marketing mortgages is not always the most glamorous job, but it is essential. Consumers can find the mortgage world confusing, so it is important for us as marketers to explain mortgage jargon in a simple way. We are always brainstorming new ideas and discussing how to improve Direct Mortgage Loans’ market share. Our leadership team gives us creative freedom, which enables us to focus on creative solutions rather than simply solutions. When I first started working at Direct Mortgage Loans, my eagerness to try new things led to opportunities that I never imagined would be available at the time. My success is due to my hunger to learn and create better solutions.


Nate Trunfio

Nate Trunfio

36
Chief Revenue Officer
Lima One Capital

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
Staying in proactive and frequent communication with my diverse network allows me to keep a pulse on the industry and market. One of my roles in our executive team is to be the eyes and ears of our sales team and borrowers. I spend time throughout the week checking in with our top producers, competitors, service providers, and borrowers. Additionally, I attend and speak at industry conferences, participate in masterminds and trade associations, and host our company podcast, which focuses on interviewing real estate investors, our core client. All these platforms allow me to have in-depth conversations with top operators around the country. These regular interactions allow me to understand the pulse of Lima One’s real estate investor clients and understand what is happening and what will likely happen in our industry.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
I’m passionate about the private lending industry, and it’s important to me that our industry continues to grow, thrive, and succeed. It is only a small piece of the greater mortgage pie, and hasn’t been institutionally backed for as long as the conventional mortgage industries. This is one of the main reasons that I’ve become an active Best Practices Committee member of the National Private Lending Association, a trade organization created to represent and protect the interests of private lenders as it pertains to legislation and public policy.


Matthew VanFossen

Matthew VanFossen

38
CEO
Absolute Home Mortgage

What motivates you to excel in your field, and how do you stay inspired and driven?
The mortgage industry offers the opportunity to maximize your creative output. There’s no shortage of solutions needed to innovate, streamline, and address the challenges our companies face daily. The complexities of regulation, technology, and operational procedures have always driven me to push both myself and my companies forward.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
All too often, we let our daily workload overshadow our innovation and roadmap goals. It’s vital to maintain a robust support team around you. Ensure that you have time blocked out to strategize and plan your roadmap objectives. Stagnation is not an option; you must propel both yourself and your company forward. The only way to achieve this is with a clear plan and the time management skills necessary to push that plan forward.

In what ways do you see yourself contributing to the future of your industry or field?
Regulatory advocacy through trade groups, combined with system innovation from the tech sector, is the best way for me to make a significant impact. Continuously studying and mastering the regulatory climate and recommending defining policy changes on Capitol Hill will keep our regulators informed about how their policies affect consumers.


Edwin Vela

Edwin Vela

39
Senior Mortgage Banker
Lakeview Mortgage Bankers Corp.

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
Staying informed and adapting to the rapidly changing landscape of the mortgage and real estate industry is crucial for success. I invest in industry courses, workshops, and seminars. These events often provide insights into the latest trends, regulations, and technologies, as well as industry magazines and blogs. I also attend construction and technology-focused conferences and expos to explore the latest tools and solutions in the construction and mortgage industry.

Can you share some of your long-term career goals and what you hope to achieve in the next five to 10 years?
I currently manage a small mortgage team and I own a real estate brokerage and my long-term goal is to become an equity partner with the mortgage bank I currently work with and expand both my real estate company and mortgage company in all 50 states. I will develop a mentorship program to help both loan officers and agents grow in their careers.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
I have failed many times, and I view setbacks as opportunities for growth. Mistakes can cost a lot of money if we don’t use them to help us align ourselves and keep on moving forward. I also encourage collaboration between my real estate agents, mortgage professionals, and any other team members. Cross-functional brainstorming sessions are very effective.


David Wieczorek

David Wieczorek

39
Director of Product
MeridianLink

How do you stay informed and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape in your industry or field?
With the complexity of the mortgage and technology industries, it’s not always easy! I do a lot of reading about both mortgage and technology. I tend to start my days reading new articles and blogs about the economy and the mortgage industry. At night, I like to read about some of the latest technology trends and applications.

However, I gain the most valuable insights about changes to our field’s landscape through interactions with colleagues, customers, and vendor partners. This helps alert me to the key changes I need to focus my attention on and gets me thinking about the ways in which my company’s technology can be of service.

How do you prioritize innovation and creativity in your work, and what role do these factors play in your success?
This is perhaps a contrarian answer, but I don’t prioritize innovation and creativity in my work; I prioritize solutions that balance fixed constraints to produce the best risk-adjusted outcomes. History is full of innovative ideas that failed due to a lack of feasibility for their time and place. For one’s ideas to truly succeed and make a difference in the world, they must be feasible, and that’s why it’s most important to have real-world constraints of time, cost, and scope at top of mind when developing solutions.

However, I don’t discount innovation and creativity entirely. Finding the best solutions often requires creativity, and the most profitable solutions are often innovative.

This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine December 2023 issue.
About the author
Published on
Nov 30, 2023
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