Ana Inacio: Imparting a good foundation of values to everyone she’s mentored

First National Financial LP Mar 26, 2024   mins

Ana Inacio shares why others’ growth is one of her greatest career joys and why she has deep love for First National.

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

AI: In 1999, I started as a Junior Underwriter. Before that, I had been at another mortgage lender for 13 years. When I joined, there were three of us doing underwriting. The company grew quickly, and I became the first team manager. Ten years later, I fulfilled my ultimate goal of being out on the road in sales. My time in underwriting was a great foundation for my sales role because I gained deep knowledge about the intricacies of a deal. In 2019, after 10 years as an Account Manager, I moved into my current role as Director, Regional Sales. 

What was your first year like?

AI: It’s always scary starting something new, especially when you’ve been somewhere for 13 years and have gotten comfortable and proven yourself. Everyone was super supportive. I remember Scott McKenzie saying to me, “don’t be afraid to make mistakes because that is how you learn.” We were a small, tight knit team back then, and just like today, you could go to anyone for help and support. 

What was your “I’m in” moment?

AI: When I started, I had brokers who didn’t want to work with me because I was new. I remember with one significant account, the broker was always calling Kathy Lillie because she had been his Underwriter. And then finally, one day, he called me! I earned his trust, and he was confident in my capabilities.  

Describe some milestones in your career.

AI: I consider every promotion I’ve received to be a milestone. Over the years, we’ve had some difficult accounts that I’ve been able to turn around. I love to be challenged. Just tell me I can’t do it, and I’ll show you I can. 

What stamp have you put on the business?

AI: I love mentoring people and seeing them grow. Many people that started on my team are now Team Managers, and some have even surpassed me. It brings me joy to see those I have mentored excel at First National. I’m also proud of the strong relationships I’ve built with the broker community, and I’m there for them without question. They have taught me so much. I started as a Junior Underwriter, and people believed in me and gave me opportunities to grow. I want to give that back any chance I get. 

What are you most proud of in your career?

AI: I’m proud to be part of the First National culture. I’ve shared it generously with every person I’ve managed and mentored, so they could take a good foundation of values with them as they grew in the company. And I’m also really proud of myself. I immigrated to Canada from France at nine years old. I didn’t speak English. I didn’t go to university, but I never let that dictate my career.  I worked hard, learned by watching and listening to those around me and always gave it my all. I’ve developed great relationships with brokers across Ontario and Atlantic Canada. 

Any favourite memories?

AI: When we were a smaller team, Stephen and Moray used to come by all the time to chat with us. And of course, our Christmas parties were always something to talk about. Even back then, we were a big family celebrating everything we achieved that year. I remember dancing with Stephen at my first Christmas party, and as a new employee, everybody was so genuine. Those parties were true celebrations.

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

AI: For me, accountability is huge. When we are at fault, we take accountability no matter the cost. Our brokers are appreciative of that. It sets us apart from other lenders. Relationship and reputation mean everything, and that’s why I’ve been able to forge great relationships with our brokers because we consistently do what we say. 

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

AI: I’ve never felt like there is any differentiation based on gender. If you have something to give, it’s welcomed and accepted. Throughout the 25 years I’ve been at First National, there have been so many strong, dynamic women leaders. It’s about who can do the best job, who has the credentials for the position and who has the most experience. I feel like First National is unique in the industry in that way. 

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

AI: I think First National is doing a really great job with diversity. Our awareness and intention has certainly grown significantly in the past five years. We have events and communications about different cultures and gender identities, which continues to make First National a great and inclusive place to work. 

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

AI: Let people know what you want. Make your goals known. Put a plan in place. Work hard. Step up. Work for the job you want, not the job you’re in. Reach out and network. If someone is doing a job you’re interested in, ask questions and learn about their experiences. The majority of managers will be supportive in helping you get there. Be your own advocate and find your champions. 

Any final thoughts?

AI: Be grateful for everything that comes your way, negative or positive. I’ve had ups and downs. But for every down there will be an up. I have a deep love for this company. I’m a single mother and I was able to grow and do well by my family as a result of the opportunities I was given at First National. 

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