Ruth-Ann Grossett: Building relationships, sharing knowledge and expressing her authentic self

First National Financial LP Mar 26, 2024   mins

Ruth-Ann Grossett shares why it’s so important to stay the course and how trust contributes to a positive and healthy work environment.

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

RAG: In 2009, I had just graduated and was looking for a job. I applied for customer service and got hired as an intern for six months. When the contract ended, I was hired full time. After a year and a half in customer service, I joined the newly formed MBS team as an administrator. Several years and promotions later, I became Supervisor. Then in 2020, I received another promotion to my current role as Assistant Manager, New Account Services. 

What was your first year like?

RAG: My first year was tumultuous. I was just out of university and never expected to work as a phone rep for my first job. But I embraced the opportunity to learn. In customer service, you’re exposed to everything – mortgages, payments, taxes, sales, processing. I also really liked that my colleagues were recent grads. We were all learning together and sharing a common experience. Looking back, that first year really helped me build a solid foundation for my career at First National. 

What was your “I’m in” moment?

RAG: Senior Administrator was my first promotion on the MBS team. While I was in that role, an opportunity came up for the Assistant Supervisor role. I applied but didn’t get it. I chose to stay on. And that dedication paid off. The person who was hired wasn’t a fit in the end, and I got the role. That experience gave me the opportunity to be a leader and taught me the value of staying the course and having faith that things will eventually work out.

Describe some milestones in your career.

RAG: When I was in customer service, I never really saw myself as a leader. But I was given the opportunity to coach and train new hires. That experience showed me I did have leadership capabilities and could coach people effectively. Becoming a Supervisor in MBS, responsible for a team of eight people, was a great recognition of my accomplishments and knowledge.  

What stamp have you put on the business?
 I believe that nurturing strong individual relationships contributes to a positive work environment. By sharing my experience through coaching and mentoring, I’ve helped people grow as people and professionals. 

What are you most proud of in your career?

RAG: I’m most proud of the impact I’ve had on my team. We focus on securitization, which is a vital piece of the mortgage process. We audit loans for errors, which requires immense attention to detail. Our team’s efficiency and ability to meet requirements and deadlines with CMHC contributes directly to revenue. I also pride myself on being approachable and building strong relationships with my team members. I am very passionate about sharing my knowledge with my team. 

Any favourite memories?

RAG: My first Christmas party. I was nervous to go. But it turned it out to be a really great end of year celebration. It was a great opportunity to have fun with my colleagues and meet new people that work in different departments. 

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

RAG: We earn trust. Without trust, my team members won’t believe in me as a leader that can coach them to their potential. I believe that transparency and openness make you relatable. And it goes both ways. I encourage everyone to come to me with ideas to make things better and create efficiencies in our department. Trust contributes to a positive and healthy work environment. 

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

RAG: Since I started in customer service and working up to my current role, I’ve had many female managers. Working with so many inspiring female leaders shaped my aspirations. It made me realize that if they can do it, so can I. Now that I’m a leader, I want to be someone other women look up to and motivates their aspirations. First National does a really great job of cultivating female leadership. 

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

RAG: As my career has progressed, I’ve seen our diversity initiatives and programs evolve really positively. Recently, we launched the employee resource groups Spaces and Traces. I belong to Traces, which is led by and benefits team members who identify as Black. Traces gives us the chance to celebrate our authentic selves, learn from each other’s experiences and give voice to issues and topics that are important to our community within First National and beyond. These groups promote inclusiveness and allyship and give employees a safe space to express their uniqueness and authentic selves. 

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

RAG: Have a great work ethic. Not every job is perfect. There are going to be mundane tasks but take pride in all the work you do. Look for opportunities to learn and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Mistakes aren’t failures. They are opportunities to grow and embrace self-improvement. 

Any final thoughts?

RAG: Entering the workforce for the first time as a new grad can be intimidating. Don’t let the anxiety about something new hold you back. Put yourself out there to meet new people, attend social events, take advantage of workshops and build relationships with colleagues. Going outside of what you think your comfort zone is will help you smooth your transition and embrace your new role. 

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