Kate Amor is an executive in charge of product development for Finance of America Mortgage. She started in the mortgage business right out of college, where she obtained degrees in Economics and Business Administration and has held various roles in the industry until landing in her current position developing new products.
“You must do the things you think you cannot do.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Kate, please tell us about your beginnings in the mortgage industry. Where did it all start?
KA: My journey in the industry started right out of college in 2007. I took a position as a loan officer in a call center. I took a three-week mortgage boot camp course before they set me free on the sales floor. Within another month, I had the second highest sales numbers in the company.
Not long after, the industry crash happened, and I found myself having to work several jobs to pay the bills. My husband was in law school, and we had just relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio, so I needed to find something stable quickly. I ended up at Fifth Third bank in 2008 where I developed a strong industry network that allowed me to take the next steps in my career. I held roles in consumer direct underwriting management, followed by enterprise risk and credit management, and then product development.
I spent eight years at Fifth Third moving up in the organization, taking on leadership roles including managing people, which allowed me to develop as a leader. It was then that I was in the right place at the right time and I found the role that I was passionate about and still am. When Finance of America offered me an opportunity to build a product organization from the ground up, I leapt at the chance and have never looked back.
Product development allows me to be challenged and creative at the same time. There is nothing more exciting to me than the launch of a new product and Finance of America is at the forefront of developing new products. Developing people, creating new products and innovative businesses is where I was always meant to be and it feels great!
Do you think trying out different roles is an important part of developing a successful career? How would you advise people to make the most of opportunities they may come across?
KA: Trying out different roles while building a career is critically important because it gives you exposure and perspective that allows you to grow.
One of my philosophies has always been that you must step outside your comfort zone and try new things to grow and evolve. Doing that in your career is more than important — it is vital.
Challenging yourself and being willing to step out of where you feel comfortable and safe will open doors and give you opportunities you might otherwise ignore or miss altogether. This is even more important for women in business to understand. Being willing to risk a failure and feeling afraid is invigorating; it also lets you learn, grow, and get noticed. When you take on a new task and see it through despite any personal doubts, it also builds inner strength.
Job descriptions are often aspirational. As a person in charge of hiring, I have hired people who may not have met every requirement in the description, but were enthusiastic, persistent, and showed me that they were willing to learn. That kind of positive, confident energy can have a big impact on a person looking to hire for a role even if the résumé does not have every box checked.
Raise your hand and take on new opportunities, especially if they push you outside your comfort zone. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you are capable of if you just step up and try.
How important is it to stay curious as you work your way up in your chosen career?
KA: Curiosity is so important in all aspects of life. It is what keeps us striving and moving forward. When you stop being curious about things in the world around you, you lose your ability to grow and evolve. I think human beings are naturally curious and it is one of the things that has driven our ingenuity and innovation from the beginning.
If you aren’t continually learning and asking questions you will become stuck, or worse, irrelevant. Life and work move quickly, and being actively involved in both means always looking around you and asking, “Why?“
When presented with an issue, ask is there a better way to do something? What technology can solve that problem? Why am I doing things this way and how can I solve this problem another way?
Curiosity is what keeps us living with purpose and zeal. We adapt because we learn, and we learn because we ask why. The people who ask the most questions seem to be the ones who get the most notice and don’t miss opportunities when they present themselves. Curiosity is vital to a successful life and career.