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Mavis Antwi celebrates 10 years at First National

  • Aug 15, 2022
  • First National Financial LP

Mavis, you started as an Intern. What brought you to First National?

I started at First National straight after finishing school. I took a Psychology and Criminology degree at the University of Toronto and then studied in a legal assistant/paralegal program at George Brown. I realized criminology wasn’t a calling for me but I was intrigued by the world of mortgages. 

What did you do as an Intern?

For nine months, I was a Fax Administrator. I worked with the Residential underwriting team but gained exposure to a lot of different areas of our business. I was really surprised at how great that experience was, and how well the team worked together. They treated each other as customers and they were really helpful to me right from day one. I felt welcomed. I learned how the underwriting process works in part because I sat next to an underwriter and saw first-hand the documents he handled and the interactions he had.

You parlayed that first experience into a full-time position. 

That’s right, I became a Fax Administrator within the Residential underwriting team. My job was to distribute incoming faxes to the appropriate person using Merlin and Outlook. That role doesn’t exist anymore and the function has been absorbed into Office Services but it was a huge learning experience. I asked lots of questions and I got back a lot of useful answers. Before I started, I didn’t fully appreciate the lifecycle of a loan, how it goes from commitment to funding. I remember when amortization rules changed and I wondered thinking, what does that mean?

How long did it take you to feel you mastered that job?

Probably about a year. I knew I was becoming proficient when I stopped asking so many questions. What I didn’t know back then was where life would take me at First National. I knew everyone was friendly and helpful so I knew I wanted to stay.  Many people who held the position of Fax Administrator went into funding, but I wanted to try something different and in particular, improve my math skills, which I did.

Where did you end up? 

I became a Mortgage Administrator, Information Updates. I was the youngest person on that team and over four years, worked my way up to become Senior Residential Underwriting Administrator in our Account Services Department. In the senior role, I was responsible for assigning daily tasks to others, training and coaching new hires, auditing accounts and problem solving. Strangely, I was still the youngest person on the team. I earned employee of the month honours a couple of times for training people and being supportive, which was very encouraging. 

Beyond math proficiency, what other capabilities did you develop over time?

Customer service skills for sure, especially when I moved into the senior role and started to interact with borrowers. Maintaining a friendly and diplomatic demeanor at all times is how we do things and learning what it means to provide best-in-class service on every file. We don’t take a cookie-cutter approach at First National. We try to understand the nuances of every file and respond rapidly to emergencies. It was pretty rewarding getting thank you emails from borrowers. I also learned how to be a good teammate. 

In June 2021, you moved to the Commercial team. 

Correct, I’m now a Commercial Servicing Representative, interacting with a variety of people both inside First National and outside including borrowers, lawyers, consultants, accountants and investors. It’s part of portfolio management. I chose to apply to the Commercial side because I wanted a new challenge and I saw that Commercial was growing and the team seemed excited about business opportunities and internal development. We work on a number of different projects and everyone gets a chance to lead.  Part of my new role involves training because I had training experience on the Residential side. I love that kind of work. 

What propelled your career along at First National?

Taking initiative,  being willing to learn continuously and having confidence to try something new. There is also no question that I was supported every step of the way by people who cared about helping me grow. People like Rita Casinha who is my Manager. She has really taken me under her wing and I can’t thank her enough.

What advice do you have for someone starting out at First National?
Success happens when opportunity means preparation. If you put in the time to gain experience, and have the skills ready, you will get the chance to prove yourself.

What makes you proud? 

Training someone and then seeing them earn a promotion. The idea of getting the chance to raise people up excites me. Acting as a mentor is very rewarding.

Is First National a place you can build a career?

Absolutely. The culture is very welcoming. Welcoming to diverse opinions, diverse skill sets and diverse people. Everyone has an opportunity to grow and progress.

Where do you see yourself in another 10 years?

I’d like to become a Commercial Analyst and eventually onto portfolio management. I like what I’m learning in my new role, I want to become expert in it and I think there would be a smooth progression from where I am today to those future roles. 

If you’d like to join us in congratulating Mavis on her important career milestone, you can reach her at