Judah Osagie: Feeling seen, heard and empowered to build bridges

First National Financial LP Mar 26, 2024   mins

Judah Osagie shares why he sees his job as a way to build bridges and how he applies his belief in the power of constant improvement to what he does every day.

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

JO: I started in customer service in 2014. When I initially interviewed for the position, I didn’t get it. I emailed to inquire about what I could do better. Two months later, I interviewed again, incorporating the feedback I received. I got the position and spent two years in that role. I then moved to funding for a year and a half and from there transitioned to an Associate Mortgage Underwriter for two years. In 2019, I was promoted to Underwriter in our newly launched Manulife division. In 2022, I took over an interim manager position and now I’m back as a Senior Underwriter for Manulife.  

What was your first year like?

JO: We were a tight knit group. We were all in our 20’s, fresh out of university, with similar interests and very ambitious. Camaraderie was strong. We used to go out on Friday nights to Crocodile Rock for $3 beers, which allowed us to bond outside of work. I look back on the simplicity of that time fondly. It was magical. 

What was your “I’m in” moment?

JO: Ever since I was a funder, I was fascinated with becoming part of the decision making process. When I became an Underwriter in 2019, I was excited to review applications and work with brokers. I looked up to the underwriters. When I interviewed for the position, there was one team with four underwriters. The goal was to have two experienced underwriters and two without experience. I was especially grateful to get that job. I felt like, “I’m in this business now.”

Describe some milestones in your career.

JO: I can think of three things. First, celebrating 10 years. It represents a significant part of my life and is a big deal for me. Second, getting to be part of team that just launched. Most jobs are already established. Manulife was all new. We were learning together and building something from the ground up. Finally, when I was asked to be an interim manager. I was grateful for the opportunity to impart some of the things I wish I had known when I was growing and learning. Having leadership experience on my resume is a huge advantage for me. 

What stamp have you put on the business?

JO: I take a personal approach to the business. I feel like that’s how I stand out. I genuinely enjoy coaching others. It’s something I’ve loved since high school. I used to tutor people in math for free. I like to share the knowledge I’ve built over time, as well as sharing the joy. But I also recognize that we are in the mortgage business, and we measure ourselves tangibly. Once I get a task, I try to smash it. I give 100% effort, often more than is necessary, to make sure I’m doing everything in my power to meet the overall goal. 

What are you most proud of in your career?

JO: Definitely the relationships I’ve forged. Good will is priceless. My connections with people extend beyond the walls of the office. I’ve built personal relationships at work. I don’t see my job as just a job. I see it as a way to build bridges. 

Any favourite memories?

JO: My first Holiday party. I remember walking into the Royal York. It all felt so regal. First National was the first serious job I had out of university, and I worked hard. My life was pretty routine at that time. Work, go home, go out on the weekend. Seeing people out of their work element was refreshing to me. 

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

JO: Strive for better. I personally believe in the power of constant improvement and being better than yesterday. It doesn’t mean being perfect. It means showing up day in and day out and being the best version of yourself. It means reaching for the highest targets and then smashing those targets. 

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

JO: It’s a simple question for me to answer. I don’t feel invisible and I don’t feel mute. In the 10 years I’ve been here, more and more people from diverse backgrounds are in higher positions. If there was any distance previously, that gap is closing. It’s a work in progress, but it is happening. I see the quest for equity as a collective commitment. It’s everyone’s job.  

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

JO: Three things – learn more than necessary, read above your pay grade and be hungry for knowledge. I live by those principles every day. Whatever position you’re in, ask questions about positions you want to be in. Think above where you already are. Job shadow and take as many online courses as possible. If you have the right energy and attitude, people will notice. Be joyful and present in the moment. Live in love. In that frequency, things will flow in your favour. 

Any final thoughts?

JO: You need to be excellent at what you do, crush targets and do your job fantastically well. But you also need to take care of your wellbeing. The same intention you put toward achievement you need to put toward self care. 

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