By Vanessa Chris, Special to CMT
Few people grow up dreaming of becoming a “professional mentor.” There’s no academic path to pursue or diploma to earn, and organizations rarely offer such positions. And yet, there are few titles that could summarize Kerri Reed’s industry achievements more.
MPC’s 2015 Mentor of the Year and Vice President of Verico Premiere Mortgage Centre didn’t start out her career with the goal of becoming a mentor. It’s a title that she gradually earned.
“It started when I took on a sales leader role and was suddenly responsible for the accomplishment of others,” Reed says. “It wasn’t just about me anymore and my successes. I was forced to see things differently. How do you help someone become more successful than you? How do you support them, even if you think their idea is crazy?”
A change in perspective
Reed quickly learned that to become an effective sales leader, she would have to transform herself. This meant becoming a little less opinionated, listening better and taking the time to think before she spoke. While she jokingly admits that some might question how successful she’s been in these respects, she says consciously changing her mindset made her far better at her job.
“It can be challenging to work with so many agents—each of whom has independent business plans that require your support,” she says. “I don’t think it’s something you can sign up for and take a course in….When you work with other [brokers], you will, at some point, become a new agent’s go-to. Some people will make the most of the opportunity, others will find it difficult to make the time. It’s not for everyone.”
The human element
While there’s no formula for identifying a good mentor, it likely helped that Reed has always been a “people person.” In fact, it’s her strong focus on the human side of business that compelled Reed to leave her previous profession.
“When I finished university, my plan was to go into the investment side of banking. But upon starting…I scared myself,” she says. “I was responsible for the well-being of my clients’ investments. People trusted me and, like many of my colleagues, I didn’t fully understand what I was selling them.”
“That’s when I made the decision, rather quickly, to move into the mortgage side of things.”
A working partnership
As a mortgage specialist with Home Loans Canada, a CIBC-owned lender that followed a hybrid bank-brokerage model, Reed took the opportunity to hone her client advisory skills.
“In that role…my clients [and I]…were essentially partners. We made decisions together and that built strong relationships,” she says. That, ultimately, is how she patterned her brokering business when she left HLC to start Premier Mortgages in 2006.
Vanessa Chris has been a professional writer and B2B content specialist for 13 years. She began covering the Canadian mortgage market as a journalist in 2006. You can reach Vanessa at firstname.lastname@example.org.