Women of Influence: Amber Mandir

In this episode, Amber Mandir elaborates on her experience as a woman in the mortgage industry. Mandir shares expert insights on the current landscape for women in the mortgage industry, her own difficult experiences that have been related to her gender, the industry’s issues on DE&I and how mortgage professionals can improve their own approaches to DE&I.


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Narrator: [00:00:03] MPA Talk, the American Mortgage Professional Podcast. 

Narrator 2: [00:00:07] This episode is presented in partnership with Next US Lending. In the latest episode of MPA Talk, Amber Mandir, senior vice president of wholesale operations at Next US Lending, joins us to discuss her career and her views on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. 

Richard: [00:00:34] Hello everyone and welcome to a new episode of MPA Talk, the US Mortgage Industries podcast. I'm your host, Richard Torne and today we'll be chatting with another leading mortgage professional to discuss their career. As always, we'll be providing you with some useful insights and advice to help you grow your business and maybe even entertain you a little along the way. Today's guest is Amber Mandir, senior vice president of wholesale operations at Non Wholesale Lender Next US Lending. Amber started her career in the mortgage industry 25 long years ago, in 1997, to be precise, straight out of high school. She has a strong underwriting and credit background in various products and spent the last ten years running operations. She has been at California based Next US for almost two years. Hello, Amber, and thank you for joining us today. 

Amber: [00:01:24] Thank you, Richard. Nice to be here. 

Richard: [00:01:27] Right. So tell us a bit more about your career trajectory and your current position. 

Amber: [00:01:32] Yeah. So I started, like you said, straight out of high school. My aunt was actually a senior level executive at a mortgage company and gave me a summer job. I fell in love with mortgage quickly and went from copying paper files into underwriting probably within two years. At that age I was very thirsty for knowledge and the mortgage industry is great for that. If you want to know, you can. You can learn. There's many ways to figure out information with mentors and guidelines and teaching yourself. So it was it was the right fit for me from the beginning. 

Richard: [00:02:20] Excellent. So how do you assess the landscape for women in the industry? Do you feel it's a level playing field today or is there still some way to go? 

Amber: [00:02:29] You know, that's an interesting question. I have been thinking about that for the last couple of years. You know whether it's due to the current political climate with, you know, women's and minority rights bubbling up to the surface. And I think I've been really lucky throughout my career to have some wonderful female mentors that took me under their wing. So I never really felt that the mortgage industry had an inequality with women specifically, personally. However, I can tell you that the landscape has completely changed from when I started as a teenager. You know, there was just men in sales and women in operations, and that was the general mix up. It was rare to see women cross over to the sales side and or men cross over to the operations side. And over the last 20 plus years, I have seen that change dramatically to where now? The last ten years, at least, my staff, my operations staff has been almost equally 50% men, 50% women. And same with the sales sales team. There's a lot more women in sales. So those are the changes that I've noticed myself over the years. I believe that in the mortgage industry is somewhat unique in that respect where people tend to respect, skill and knowledge and a thirst for knowledge and tend to foster that and mentor that, at least in my own personal experience. However, there is still a disparity between upper level executives, with the majority still being men and the minority being women. 

Richard: [00:04:35] Yeah, I meant to ask you, have you personally experienced any problems related to your gender that you're willing to share? 

Amber: [00:04:42] You know. I think I'm an unusual case. I wouldn't say I noticed any. Issue related to my gender or my race. In my younger days, I felt more that I wasn't taken seriously because of my age. Maybe that was misplaced because I was young, you know, I was a bit of a spitfire and as I said, very thirsty for knowledge. And, you know, I wanted to rise up the ranks a lot faster than I think anybody was ready for. And I was constantly told it was my age and my experience level. I do think that as I've gotten older, I do notice that there are certain circumstances where I my opinion is not taken as seriously as maybe my male counterparts. However, I overcompensate for that with dealing in facts and less emotion. And I think because I dealt with my age, being so young in the industry and being in management at such a young age, since I dealt with that, I think that equipped me to deal with any gender bias I would have to deal with now at this age. And like I said, I had some wonderful female mentors early on and throughout my career that were higher level executives. And so I never had a thought that there was a glass ceiling. I do I am aware that there there is now I see it now that I am in the higher level positions in dealing with higher level executives. There are places where it is more of a boys club, but I'm careful about where I choose to work, making sure that it's going to be in a collaborative environment and that I won't be discriminated, discriminated against. 

Richard: [00:07:02] Very interesting. Beyond gender. Do you feel the mortgage industry has wider issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion? 

Amber: [00:07:11] Yeah, I think, you know, that is not specific to mortgage. I think that's happening worldwide in all businesses. The one positive thing that I can say, though, is the pandemic pushing a lot of companies into remote work and remote hiring. And one of the things that I actually quite enjoyed during the pandemic is that all of my interviews were on the phone and they weren't video, they weren't in person. And so I was really getting to know the true skill level of the candidates rather than being like unconsciously biased based on appearance. Now, I don't think I do that. However, it was nice to kind of take away that element and truly be able to focus on their resumé, their career, their skill level, their experience, and hire them strictly based on that without having that unconscious bias. So personally, I, I think that the remote work is going to improve that for females, for minorities, because you won't have that unconscious bias. 

Richard: [00:08:34] So fair point. Race has been a particularly big topic in relation to redlining and other discriminatory practices. What can the mortgage industry do to improve its standards and image? 

Amber: [00:08:47] You know, I think that it definitely starts at the top with the executives building out company culture, education, HR reinforcing that, but also has to. The managers of the company also have to be a part of that constant education and practicing the. The standards that are. Acceptable. Treating people equally. Treating people with respect regardless of their race, ethnic background, gender, etc.. And then it's also on us as managers to reinforce that constantly and consistently and building a culture within the company that. Embodies that and truly believes that. And like I said, constantly and consistently practices it. 

Richard: [00:10:01] Do you have any advice to other women looking to advance their own careers? 

Amber: [00:10:04] Yeah, so I think that the key would be to find a mentor. Find someone that you can connect with that is open to supporting you and your advancement in your knowledge and your skill level. For me, that's definitely what worked, is honing in on individuals that were willing to lift me up, build me up. Staying away from the people that were not interested in teaching and training. So mainly staying on the positive side of things and looking for those people that are like minded, that are willing to sponsor you in a sense, that advocate for you, that acknowledge your your intelligence, acknowledge your skill level, acknowledge your value to the mortgage industry as a whole and the company on a smaller level. 

Richard: [00:11:10] Absolutely. And finally, what can mortgage professionals do to improve diversity, equity and inclusion at their own workplace? 

Amber: [00:11:19] Yeah. I think on the individual level it's just being mindful. There was a mentor of mine that told me quite a long time ago, probably about 20 years ago, that, you know. You wouldn't treat your coworkers any worse or you shouldn't treat your coworkers any worse, that you would treat your outside customers. And so to look at your your coworkers and your peers as your internal customers and always be respectful and professional and regardless of what they may look like or where they may come from or how they identify, they are human being and we're all trying to get a job done. And ultimately, I remind my teams that there is a borrower on the other side of the transaction that has no idea what goes into closing their loans. And so we also have to be mindful of that. And so everybody's in it to make for the same goal, to get people into their dream homes. And and so there shouldn't be any room for discriminatory practices. 

Richard: [00:12:33] Sounds like very wise advice. And on that note, we end today's podcast. Amber, it's been great talking to you. Thank you for joining us today. 

Amber: [00:12:43] Great. Thank you so much. 

Richard: [00:12:44] And thank you to everyone for listening. I've been your host, Richard Torne. Please join us again in two weeks time for another edition of MPA Talk. Good bye. 

Narrator: [00:12:56] Thank you for listening to this episode of MPA Talk.