Akanksha Gambhir: Being recognized as a valued contributor and as a mother

First National Financial LP Mar 26, 2024   mins

Akanksha Gambhir shares why she’s most proud of her work ethic and how she’s felt supported both as a valued contributor and as a mother.

Take us back to the beginning of your career at First National.

AG: I started as a Funder in 2014. I had previously held a funding role at another institution so I had some knowledge of mortgages. But I still had to immerse myself in First National’s processes, products and culture. I worked in funding until 2020 and then took on my current role as AMU. 

What was your first year like?

AG: I was able to establish a professional identity at First National in that first year. In my previous job, we did everything manually. When I started working with Merlin, I was surprised and excited by the automation. Having that tool allowed me to excel and add more files to my workflow. I also established productive relationships with head office. We collaborated so well together, and I always knew I could reach out with questions or to ask for help. The lawyers appreciated how well we worked together and how committed we were to saying “yes.”

What was your “I’m in” moment?

AG: For me, it was knowing that my co-workers, managers, brokers and lawyers could count on me and had faith in my abilities. Getting that acknowledgement consistently made me want to work harder and commit more to representing myself and First National. I had a great moment recently at the Town Hall in June 2023. I was recognized as a high performer and had the chance to sit down for a one-on-one conversation with Jason Ellis, our President, in front of my peers. I could see how proud they were of me. 

Describe some milestones in your career.

AG: In 2022, I was nominated 21 times for the Shining Star program. Those nominations came from colleagues. It’s very rewarding for me to know I have the trust of my colleagues, and they appreciate me. Also, as AMUs, our work is audited quarterly. In June, we had our first 100% audit, which means our work was error-free. That was a huge achievement for our team. 

What stamp have you put on the business?
AG: 
Supporting brokers and lawyers with a commitment to excellence. I had a situation recently where a broker needed an urgent condition of financing review. I completed the file within an hour. The broker called me to tell me I made him look like a star in front of the client. And more importantly, the client was so happy and was in tears because it was such an important step in realizing their home ownership dream. 

What are you most proud of in your career?

AG: I’m proud of my work ethic. I’ve accomplished what I’ve accomplished because of my discipline and honest dedication to my work. I work with one of our biggest broker clients. If they are expanding, we are expanding. I continue to work hard to contribute to First National’s success. I am proud to represent a brand I feel good about and that people trust. 

Any favourite memories?

AG: In 2020, amidst the craziness of Covid, I had been promoted to AMU but I was still supporting the funding department. It was such a busy, frantic time for all of us. My manager called me about a file, and when we started talking, she could tell something was going on with me and asked about it. When I told her it was about my son, she said to me, “AK, log out, your son needs you right now. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it.” That compassionate support and advice from one mother to another meant so much to me. When I came back, I wasn’t stressed and gave my 200%. That is the kind of trust and family I have here. I will never, ever forget that. 

Which one of First National’s values resonates with you most and why?

AG: We earn trust and we strive for better. The trust you build endures. When I was having personal issues, my manager trusted me that I would get my work done and not let anyone down. And I’m always trying to do better and find ways to complete more fundings. 

As a woman, what’s it like to work at First National and what inspires you?

AG: I am a mother. And whenever I had to be there for my child, I felt 100% supported. I was always told, “take your time, this is life, life happens.” At work, I have always been defined by my skills, expertise and dedication. Opportunities were always available to me, and I was always treated with respect and fairness.

From your experience, how does the First National culture value diversity and elevate the voices and perspectives of all team members?

AG: We have so many employee resource groups available to everyone. And we celebrate diversity intentionally. Our culture emphasizes open communication and idea sharing. Everyone has their own perspective. When those perspectives come together, we end up with a beautiful, creative and innovative result. We all educate each other, respect each other and grow with each other.

What advice would you share with people growing their careers at First National?

AG: First National is a fun place to work. You need to be energetic. Be ready to build long-term relationships. You will have a family here that celebrates together. 

Any final thoughts?

AG: Be who you are and do your best. When you feel like you want to give up – behind that line is where success lies. Be dedicated. No matter what the circumstance is, respect your job. Be honest about your effort. Are you giving 100%? If not, figure out what’s holding you back. 

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