Take us back to the beginning of your career at First National.
DC: I started at First National in 2012. My first role was in the tax department. I came in with no experience in the industry or even working in an office environment. The workload in tax was very heavy. I had to work really hard to keep up and to learn at the same time. I didn’t know anyone so I began networking to meet people, build relationships and make friends. I learned quickly that there were growth opportunities at First National. I spent three years in taxes. Then I took on a fulfillment role and eventually transitioned into underwriting. I’ve been a manager in underwriting since March 2020.
What was your first year like?
DC: My first year was overwhelming. I became very close with a colleague that worked on the same floor. We formed a really strong bond because we came up together. I invested a lot of time and effort networking with the rest of my team members, letting them know who I was and making a name for myself.
What was your “I’m in” moment?
DC: It was when I became an underwriter. There is a certain aura around underwriting, whether accurate or not. When I got promoted to that role, I realized I could really make it in this industry. As I progressed in the role, people started requesting me. Brokers and fulfillment specialists wanted to work with me. And my manager wanted me to stay on her team. That was very validating.
Describe some milestones in your career.
DC: In 2018, I was nominated for Underwriter of the Year for both the Canadian Mortgage Awards and the Mortgage Awards of Excellence. Brokers select the nominees. That recognition validated the work and effort I was putting in to building and maintaining strong broker relationships.
What stamp have you put on the business?
DC: My team is the best I’ve been on. Everyone – funders, fulfillment specialists and underwriters – are committed to the success of the business. We have a big portfolio of brokers and experience across a broad volume of deals. I try to impart the importance of work ethic, commitment and relationships with brokers. I want to enable my team members to be the best they can be. We embrace the work, effort and critical thinking that’s required to say yes more than we say no. It is an important responsibility to lead such a strong team at one of the largest lenders in the industry.
What are you most proud of in your career?
DC: My tenure so far, and how I’ve progressed at First National. It’s a great place to work because of the growth opportunities within the company. My story is part of that. I’ve watched so many funders, customer service reps and admins work their way up too. It speaks to the nature of this company. Our leaders invest in their people and promote from within. They reward people who work hard and make a commitment to our success and growth.
Any favourite memories?
DC: All of the events are amazing – our Christmas parties in the winter and our broker events in the summer. They provide an opportunity to meet team members that you maybe haven’t met before. And being together like that gives us a chance to interact with brokers outside of the business and strengthen our relationships on a personal level. Those events are some of the best times I’ve had at First National.
What advice would you share with people growing their careers at First National?
DC: It’s important to have a strong work ethic regardless of the opportunities that come your way or that you create. Staying humble is equally as important. At the end of the day, you’re only as good as your last deal. Having a reputation for humility and a strong work ethic will help you network and build relationships, so you have people that will vouch for you in your career. That support and validation is critical when you’re looking to advance with a new opportunity.
Any final thoughts?
DC: First National is a really great company to work for. I couldn't have asked for a better, more fulfilling career path. I have grown so much as a professional and as a person. I have earned the respect of my co-workers and brokers. Most importantly, I feel like I am only getting started. I am going to keep learning and working hard to achieve my goals. And I have so much support to keep growing and succeeding at First National.