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The Vision


This month Laura is interviewing Janet Pagan. Based in New Jersey, Janet is the Branch Manager of the Cliffside Park office of Paramount Residential Mortgage Group, Inc.
“Honesty and integrity are by far the most important assets of an entrepreneur.” – Zig Ziglar
Written by Laura Brandao
About the Author >>>
Q: How did you get your start in the mortgage business?
A: In 1998 I was working full-time in the pharmaceutical industry and part-time as a loan officer. I decided I wanted to work primarily with Hispanic people who were dreaming of owning their own homes, so I swapped my full-time position to become a branch manager in the mortgage business. I started out with referrals from friends and family and continued to grow the business to where it is today. I am so glad I made this decision and have no regrets about it. I prefer being an entrepreneur and guiding my own destiny to being in a corporate office setting and love working with my clients every day.
Q: What does being a woman of vision mean to you?
A: I believe a woman of vision has a strong set of personal values that must include integrity and a drive to be of service to your clients. I take charge of my responsibilities with knowledge and experience so I can deliver what my customers need to the best of my ability. A woman with vision can intuit the needs of her family and community and work every day to fulfill those needs while also providing a good example and showing leadership in her chosen role. I have a personal vision of everyone I work with who dreams of home ownership and being able to achieve that dream with my guidance through the process of obtaining a mortgage.
I want to be sure that the underserved members of our communities have the same opportunity as everyone else.
I advise every woman starting a career today to find herself a mentor and coach to support, guide, and help her avoid pitfalls and missteps. I believe having someone you trust to give you perspective and the wisdom of their experience is an absolute must if you want to keep moving forward in your career.
Q: What does success mean to you?
A: I take great pride in the number of referrals I receive from satisfied customers who send their family and friends to me. The fact they are willing to entrust the people they care for the most to me means I have fulfilled my obligations and gone above and beyond their expectations and that is my goal.
I love receiving a good review from a former client because feedback is important and inspires me to keep doing my best. It also gives me insight into what I am doing right and how I can improve.
Success also means giving back. I want to share my experience and knowledge with young people starting out in the industry. It gives me great pleasure to speak to them, encourage them, and give them the benefit of what I have learned over the years.
Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
A: Outside of the office, I find joy spending time with my family. Big family dinners, visits, and just spending time with my loved ones is precious to me. My husband and I also love visiting museums and going to the theatre. Living close to New York City means we have much to choose from and it is wonderful. I also enjoy volunteer work as a Rotarian where I currently serve as President-Elect.
Q: How do you recommend navigating change in an industry that is always changing and growing?
A: The most important thing to remember is to keep current, keep learning and ask questions of those who have been around the business a long time. Take advantage of every opportunity for training and development offered by your employer and learn to use the technology they have to its maximum efficiency.
Successful companies are always on the lookout to enhance the effectiveness of tools they provide to their sales force, so be proactive. If you see a new tool that might be useful, speak up, and let your employer know about it. Our industry is always in a state of change. Keeping up with what is new and gives clients the best possible experience is critical to the success of your organization and the trajectory of your career.
Q: Do you think it is important to have a mentor?
A: I firmly believe having a mentor or coach is absolutely a must for anyone who wants to move up and forward in any career. A second opinion, validation of a decision, or even a different perspective may make all the difference between success and stagnation.
Q: What do you want to be remembered for in our industry?
A: I want to be remembered as a good woman who followed my calling and paved my own path to a successful career in the mortgage industry. I have strived for excellence and committed myself to provide clients with the highest level of care and support as they navigate their home purchase. I also hope my contribution to the industry will inspire others to aspire to the same.
Q: How do you find your voice?
A: Finding your voice and using it requires trust in yourself and confidence. Sometimes it takes experience and the collection of wisdom to find the right time and place to step forward and be heard. When I started out in this business, I found myself in a situation where I had the choice to speak up or to stay silent and allow a wrong to be ignored. As difficult as the circumstances were, I did speak and was able to put the issue behind me and move on with my head held high. Using your voice as a force for good and for what is right is important and should be something we all commit to in our personal and professional lives.
Q: What is your biggest fear and why?
A: I have a terrible fear of public speaking. I am my own worst critic and have a tendency to compare myself to others I have heard stand up and speak. My anxiety causes me to question my own competence. It is something I work on continuously and hope to one day overcome or at least reduce and see myself on a stage (smiling).
Q: What is your favorite book or podcast you would recommend and why?
A: I like to watch the Loan Officer podcast on YouTube and Loan Officer Breakfast Club on Facebook. I find the interviews with people in our industry to be realistic, relevant, and informative. I would recommend them to others in the mortgage business. My favorite books are many!
Q: How do we propel more women into leadership roles within our industry?
A: If we want more women in our industry to be in positions of leadership, we need to support and encourage them from the beginning. Leaders need to be cultivated and developed. I believe more organizations need to be proactive about embracing and recognizing the unique skills and talents that women bring to the table and making a conscious effort to encourage young women on the career path that will give them opportunities. Our industry and clients can only benefit from the promotion of women into leadership and harnessing the amazing, nurturing, and powerful energy that women bring to the business we love.
Q: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
A: I love this business and see myself continuing to work in it, growing, learning, and serving my clients with integrity and commitment. I would like to spend more of my time mentoring and working with young people entering their careers in the industry and helping them to find their future enhanced by offering the very best to their clients and colleagues.
I would also like to share with young people starting their careers today that the importance of working with integrity and compassion should never be discounted. Those qualities will not only serve your clientele in the best possible way but benefit you through building a network of customers who trust and rely on you to help them achieve the dream of owning their own home.
For me, success is reflected in the smiles on my clients' faces when they take possession of their new home.
Q: Who is one woman who has had the most impact on you professionally and how has she inspired you? What would you like to say to her today?
A: This is a hard question for me to answer. When I started out there really weren’t many women in our industry in leadership positions. The business was truly male dominated at that time and that was something I had to work with as a reality.
Since then, we have come a long way and I have found women I in the mortgage business who I can admire. I have great respect for Patty Arvielo, the cofounder of New American Funding. She is a self-made entrepreneur with over 40 years of experience in the financial business as a Latina and is a first-generation Hispanic American. I first heard her speak at the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals' conference in California in 2016 and am still in awe of her story and her success.
I also have a lot of admiration for Christine Beckwith and her 20/20 Vision for Success coaching methods. I first met her in 2019. She is the second woman to inspire me greatly with her success. Her influence has helped me come out of my shell both personally and professionally and become more confident.
If I spoke to these ladies today, I would thank them for their inspiration and dedication to our industry and the people who work in it and rely on it to help them achieve their financial goals.
Q: What is your professional superpower?
A: I believe my professional superpower is the optimism and positivity I show to my clients when we are working toward achieving their dreams.
The mortgage process can be daunting and nerve-wracking. My job is to make the transaction as easy and painless as possible, and a large part of achieving that is to be supportive, encouraging, and positive. When clients are feeling anxious I give support and a guiding hand at their back to let them know it is all going to work out fine.
Q: Tell us something about your career in the mortgage industry that was pivotal to your achievements today?
A: When I was a teenager, my father bought his first home. It was a huge accomplishment and a milestone in both his life and mine. It was the first time I understood how important owning a home can be in the financial life of a person and their family.
I have developed good habits during my years in this business and I believe they are critical to my success and something to be proud of. I work hard to stay up to date with market trends and advances in the industry both educationally and technologically. I know being able to make changes in the way I do business to reflect market trends and fluctuations is critical to giving my clients the very best service I can.
I make a point of continuously reading and understanding new business practices and processes so I can take advantage of them on my client’s behalf. Being proactive and up to date with industry best practices and the latest technology available means giving my clients the experience they deserve.