"I have always been interested in financial and economic empowerment in the Latino community," says Countrywide Mortgage's Mary Durón. In her new role as executive vice-president of national multicultural sales, she is in a prime position to help Hispanics and other minorities find empowerment through homeownership. Countrywide, based in Calabasas, California, is committed to funding $1 trillion in home loans to minority and lower-income borrowers and communities by 2010, and will be donating $1 million over the next five years to the U.S. Conference of Mayors' National Dollar Wi$e Financial Literacy Campaign.
"Homeownership is really the biggest way to create wealth," explains the Rosemead, California-based executive, who began her position in April 2005. "With that comes the empowerment of individuals and communities and so forth."
When not training her loan officers or helping Countrywide meet its multicultural goals, Ms. Durón works with government and nonprofit agencies to help reach underrepresented groups. "Nonprofits are trusted advisors in the community base, and provide us with good linkage in communities," she explains. "To me the important thing has always been to be connected to the community. Only by having a pulse on the community can you know what's needed."
The child of Mexican immigrants, Ms. Durón grew up in the Watts district of Los Angeles – the ideal milieu for developing a deep understanding of diverse communities.
"The reality was that it was a very multicultural environment," she says. "I lived there during and after the [1992 Rodney King] riots. There were Latinos and African Americans both." Her background has been extremely valuable to the work she does at Countrywide. "I speak Spanish. I grew up in a multicultural community. I think all of this knowledge and experience and just having an appreciation for and understanding of differences, and respecting them, and knowing how to reach out to various segments of the community, has been helpful," says Ms. Durón.
She's proud that her role at Countrywide allows her to help empower others. "For most people, [buying a home] is the largest financial transaction they will ever do in their lives. We help educate them," explains the avid reader, traveler, and married mother of four. "It's also about personal empowerment. We help people achieve the American dream of homeownership."
Mary Durón has learned some valuable lessons on her climb up the career ladder. She shares this advice for achieving success:
Own Your Projects
"You should always say, 'this is my assignment, and I'm going to do whatever it takes for a successful execution.' I feel that you really need to own the whole thing, so you have to roll up your sleeves to make aspects of it happen. People who are waiting for others to do things for them will have a hard time succeeding."
See the Big Picture
"You must determine the whole scope of what needs to be done. I envision all the pieces that need to be in place to make a project or initiative successful. I like to think about it, sleep on it, and the right way comes to me. So I'm not reactive; I want to be able to understand the scope to know what the right avenue is to take."
Follow Your Heart
"I think you need to be true to yourself, and you have to like what you are doing."
"I've always been involved in
nonprofit organizations. I utilized those experiences to teach me skills I could use later. It really enhanced my knowledge base, and those are experiences I bring back to my work life."
Expand Your Knowledge
"The more you know, the more you experience, the better. Whether it's computers, communications skills, or being nervous in front of an audience, you can participate in different organizations to get those skills. Broadening your knowledge helps you broaden your career."
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