Foreword by CEO Bill Lowman:
As a CEO in the later stages of my career, my desire is to leave behind a legacy of inclusivity and equality, being part of much-needed and long-awaited change for our industry.When I became CEO of American Pacific Mortgage in 2016, we had two women with seats on our executive leadership team. Today, I’m proud to say that four of our eight “chief” positions and eight of our thirteen VP positions are held by women. For the first time in the history of the company, we’ve achieved a balanced leadership team.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s important not only to acknowledge how far we’ve come as a company but also to spotlight the career achievements and success of our leaders here at APM. While the journey for each of these women has been different, many have experienced similar triumphs and challenges throughout their careers.
The goal of sharing this insight is to ensure that our next generation of female leaders knows that anything is possible—the sky really is the limit, and these incredible women are proof of that.
Each of the interviewees was asked the same question: “As a woman in a leadership role, what do you credit your success to?”
Melissa Wright, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer
“I am very proud to come from a long line of entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial mindset and grit were built into me, along with drive and the ability to push myself outside my comfort zone.
My personality is such that I challenge myself and hold myself and the people around me to a high standard. I want to be excellent and to make a difference, so I’ll grab any opportunity and not wait for people to hand them to me.”
Michele Buschman, Chief Information Officer
“I credit my success to my dad. Being a father to four girls, my dad had his hands full. He always inspired his daughters to be independent and to do anything we set our minds to. There was never any debate over what we could accomplish, no differentiation that this was a man’s job or a woman’s job. He instilled in each of us a belief that the sky was the limit! And he supported us in each of our distinct paths, even to this day.
It was so gratifying to share my success with him when I was promoted to CIO. He owns a good portion of that success in how he inspired me, supported me, and encouraged me throughout my entire life. He also always made sure to remind me that there is a balance between your career and your family and to stay grounded. I can’t say enough about how much I attribute my success to how my dad raised and supported me. I have strived, as a mother, to do the same for my daughter and son! The sky’s the limit; it’s up to you!”
Marty Allred, Chief Compliance Officer
“I have been fortunate to work with great people in the industry and at APM, all of whom have emanated a strong work ethic and a positive and grateful attitude. These two qualities alone create a foundation that can propel you through anything. That, in my opinion, can be more valuable than your technical skill sets.
Additionally, I’ve always had a strong curiosity that helped me learn different aspects of the industry and that ultimately helped expand my knowledge base and skill sets along my career path. I learned early on in my career to think beyond your own role; think about the company, not just your bubble; and ask about what you don’t know. And last, the ability to be swift, decisive, and to figure out how to get things done to move the needle forward has helped propel my career in each of my roles.”
Denise Derner, VP of Experience
“At APM, I’ve been very fortunate to work alongside some of the very best, and have been given opportunities to continually grow and contribute to something that is so perfectly aligned with my aspirations as a leader. This doesn’t happen by chance; it happens by choice—someone who said, “Let’s give her a chance—I believe in her.” So I credit many people on my journey, including the incredible APM mentors and leaders who have been with me every step of the way.
I also credit a great deal to my parents. They instilled a belief that success is measured by the meaningful experiences we create in the lives of others, rather than defined by a title or position. My parents were beautiful examples of this philosophy, and it’s something I’ve carried with me throughout my career. They had an incredible work ethic, always showed up, opened their doors to those in need, were servant-leaders, cared deeply, and put faith over fear every time. Their example of leadership is also a driving force for where I’m at today.”
Kimberley Hocking, VP of Risk
“My career success can be attributed to the people I’ve been surrounded by. I started with APM 19 years ago and have been blessed to work with amazing people and leaders within the company. I’ve also had amazing mentors throughout my career, role models who helped me develop and grow through providing an environment of goal-setting, accountability, knowledge, and encouragement.
I’m proud and humbled to be part of the best leadership team in the mortgage industry! The women on our leadership team not only have impressive expertise and knowledge, but they are also incredible examples of our culture in action.”
Demetria Hudley, VP of Human Resources
“I credit my success to many amazing leaders throughout my career who saw my potential and believed in me.”
Carolyn Smith, VP of Capital Preservation
“I was raised in a family that valued a strong work ethic, caring about others, and the importance of solving your own problems. My parents taught by example, not by dictating. Learning from my mistakes was much more effective than not being allowed to make mistakes. When I needed help with schoolwork, I remember how it made me crazy that rather than giving me the answer my father would ask me questions so I would figure it out on my own. Because of the critical thinking skills that I gained then, I can figure out just about anything.
Over the many years I have been in the mortgage industry, I’ve learned that to succeed you must be willing to continue learning new things—to do whatever it takes to add value to the company and help your team succeed. Share credit on the wins, and help others get wins. It’s a tough business, and we need to prop each other up.”
Tricia Sobon, VP Controller
“I credit my success to the strong women in my life as I grew up, and the strong women leaders that acted as role models in the early part of my career—whether they knew it or not.
They gave me the ability to recognize my own self-worth, and the courage to stand up for that in both my personal and professional life. Many of them do not know the impact they made on me, and that is why I always try to live my best authentic life at all times. You never know who is paying attention.”
Laura Clavero, VP of Operations
“I credit my success to great leadership and remaining teachable by those who are leading me. Remaining teachable is important to continue to grow as an individual. Without knowledge and a humble approach, you stunt your own growth.”
Mary Bolar, VP of Loan Servicing
“I credit my success to great mentors and being a lifelong learner with the heart of a teacher. The teacher in me has provided the foresight to be able to match team members and their skill sets in the right roles, which has led to producing high-functioning teams throughout my career.”
Brionne Rossi, VP of Treasury
“I credit my success to having the confidence to pursue different positions throughout my career, using my voice, leading by example, and always trying to be part of the solution. I’m also someone who’s always looking to learn new tasks and push myself in new areas, always seeking out the why and how behind the process.”