Industry leader Patty Arvielo has seen the direct impact that mentorship offers to individuals within a community, and to employees in a business context.
So when Arvielo, president of New American Funding, started thinking about ways to give back to the industry that has offered her a life that she never dreamt of leading, mentorship was a natural fit. There weren’t many resources for young, aspiring women in the industry to facilitate one-on-one exchanges with industry leaders, Arvielo launched a mentorship program, Thrive & Learn.
Arvielo, who is this year’s Woman of Distinction award winner, remembers her own search for a mentor. In fact, most of her early mentors didn’t even know they were role models to her.
“It was like that invisible relationship where I admired them from afar, I watched what they did, I looked at how they conducted business and that was usually within the umbrella of my own organization. I looked upwards to see where I saw myself—which was hard, because there were no women,” Arvielo said. “I still found alignment in leadership styles that I admired and I would just emulate.”
Everyone loves the idea of mentoring, but when it comes to finding a mentor—or even finding someone who wants a mentor—the matchmaking can be tricky. Through Thrive & Learn, Arvielo is offering her personal expertise to mortgage professionals who want to be more and do more.
For three months, people have direct access to Arvielo. They can ask her questions at any time and on a monthly group Skype call, everyone connects for answers, advice, and feedback to those questions and other issues. She presents herself as an open book for people aspiring to greatness in the mortgage industry.
Many programs offer similar avenues for advice, but Arvielo takes it one step further. She is a mother and a wife first, she says, and then she is the president of NAF, and she wants to work with others who are aligned philosophically, professionally and personally.
“If your personal life sucks, your work life sucks. So I really try to put that message,” Arvielo said. “I talk a lot about Rick’s and my relationship, how I deal with my children; I really put myself out there personally because without being happy personally, or within yourself, you won’t succeed in business—and if you do, you’re unhappy.”
At first, the program was only open to women because Arvielo was drawn to the idea of empowering women to see themselves in leadership positions. Increasingly, however, Arvielo found that men were also interested, so she expanded the program to include them.
Part of that desire for inclusion is Arvielo’s commitment to the men in leadership positions who helped her get to where she is today. Another part of it is her desire for balance.
“It’s taken a long time for women to put themselves out there, and I want to be a direct conduit where men are also comfortable in speaking about the importance of women in their industry. So I balance myself as a leader to make sure I wouldn’t have pulled too far in one direction or the other. It’s really hard, if you think about it—I’m speaking as someone who is an advocate for a women in mortgage to a company that’s still primarily male,” Arvielo said.
But she also knows that men have a role to play in leveling that playing field, and the best way to do that is to get them involved.
“Men have the biggest responsibility to women, because they’re the ones that are our fathers,” Arvielo said. “I try to teach men that work with me how to give positive messaging and encouragement to daughters, because they’re our first male role models,” Arvielo said.
She encourages participants to ask anything at all; there are no dumb questions in these groups, and there are often a lot of commonalities that shape the agendas for each call. These shared experiences and aspirations all form to build a network with each other, and with Arvielo, long after the mentorship session is over.
Arvielo is very diplomatic in everything she does, and feels she has struck a balance to help young originators regardless of their respective gender or whether they’re from NAF or another mortgage company.
“I know the importance of having a safe place to go to ask certain questions,” she said. “It’s important.”