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National Mortgage Professional Diana Rice Wilkerson

Article Reference - National Mortgage Professional | Published December 2021
 Diana Rice-Wilkerson
 Rice Wilkerson Diana
Senior Loan Officer
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation

How did you get involved with the mortgage industry? What keeps you motivated to stay?

My first job with mortgages was in the late ‘70s. A local bank hired me to replace the retiring mortgage representative. I took applications, gathered documents, ordered credit reports and mailed verifications. Applications were hand written, verifications were typed and loan committee was held once a week to approve loans. Eventually, I became the underwriting manager and asked to join a task force created to develop a special loan program to serve families with low/moderate incomes. This allowed me to test new ideas and concepts, such as 100% financing and expanded debt ratios. This was the hook!

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

Having female leadership represented in the mortgage industry, in all capacities, is very important. It communicates a strong message about the value placed on women in the workplace. It shows other women they can aspire to a management/leadership role. If women are not represented in all leadership positions, it's communicating a message of "inequality," "we're not good enough" or "we don't have what it takes." Additionally, women bring a unique set of skills and perspectives to the workspace which are critical in creating a healthy work environment.

What is your opinion on the importance of having female leaders in the mortgage industry?

Having female leadership represented in the mortgage industry, in all capacities, is very important. It communicates a strong message about the value placed on women in the workplace. It shows other women they can aspire to a management/leadership role. If women are not represented in all leadership positions, it's communicating a message of "inequality," "we're not good enough" or "we don't have what it takes." Additionally, women bring a unique set of skills and perspectives to the workspace which are critical in creating a healthy work environment.

As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome this barrier?

As a female leader, the most significant barrier in my career has been being African American. I came along when affirmative action was passed so oftentimes I was the first and only person of color in the department where I worked. My amazing parents taught me to be prayerful, kind and respectful, even when dealing with a racially charged situation. This turned out to be excellent advice and more often than not, the situation worked out to my advantage.