1. What got you into business development?
I’ve always been a people person, so I love how much I get to partner and build relationships in this role. There’s so much negotiation, collaboration, and strategic thinking required in business development, and that has always been compelling to me. I also appreciate how creative it is. I’m often working on new lines of business or enabling new products.
In my role at Amazon Web Services, I largely focused on pioneering technologies such as Robotics, IoT, and Space and Satellites, so the opportunity to utilize and leverage my background and experience to build new businesses and partnerships in these areas was fun, challenging, and different from the B2C domain I began my technology career in 20 years ago.
2. How would you describe your role as Head of Business Development at Blend?
Blend is quite literally built with integration in mind, so understanding how we can bring in the right partnerships to build a better product for our customers (and their consumers) is critical.
By partnering with the right data providers, systems of records, and other services, we’re able to bring everything together in one place and offer an end-to-end, seamless experience for lenders and consumers. So I ultimately see my role as maximizing the mutual benefits of Blend’s partnerships by building long-term relationships that make our products better and our customers more delighted.
3. What are some of your guiding leadership principles?
Amazon had 16 leadership principles that helped guide how everyone across the company makes decisions. Many of those principles still hold true for me today. I’m deeply obsessed with customers, I strongly believe in hiring and developing the best talent, and I like to move the ball forward by making informed decisions with a bias for action. One of the reasons I was so excited about joining Blend is that we have a similar focus on creating long-term customer value, always holding themselves to the highest standards, and taking smart risks. I also really value having a strong team culture. I firmly believe that when people can bring their full, authentic selves to work, it leads to more creative problem solving and innovation.
4. What interested you about joining Blend?
My first job out of college was actually as a title insurance closer. I also led mergers and acquisitions for a real estate investment trust and was an analyst for commercial mortgage-backed securities before I went to business school. Looking back on those experiences, everything in real estate transactions was still very much analog and laborious. There was so much need for innovation in the space. So it’s kind of interesting that all these years later, I’m joining a company that’s helping to streamline and digitize not only the process of ordering and curing title but the entire homeownership journey. I’m really thrilled to be able to come full circle and bring my deep technology expertise back to the lending environment.
I also believe that everyone should have the opportunity to buy a home in their lifetime, so I get really excited by how Blend’s technology is helping home buyers go through the entire process faster and more seamlessly.
5. What advice do you have for other women in tech?
This is a great question! I’ve spent the last 20 years working in tech, so I’ve picked up several important lessons along the way that I can now share as career advice. But let me first say that I certainly didn’t have my career path all planned out from the start. There have been a lot of zigs and zags along the way, but I believe that every experience is a stepping stone to the next, regardless of whether it was planned or not.
- Lesson one: Find something you’re passionate about, and then work really hard to find a niche in that particular area and leave an impression. In a former life I was a professional ballet and modern dancer. I learned starting at age four that you need both talent and hard work to leave a mark. Hard work can also be fun if it’s something you’re passionate about! In my case, I learned that I loved to negotiate and parlayed that into business development, which I have done across numerous verticals and technology platforms.
- Lesson two: Embrace change, because it’s the only constant. Experiences (whether they are good or maybe not quite what you hoped for) build strength, character, and grit. I mentioned before that my career has gone through a few zigs and zags. I’ve worked at huge multinational corporations, startups, and I even spent two years as COO and CFO of a nonprofit based in South America. All of those experiences have given me a more flexible mindset, broader perspective, and the ability to learn and adapt quickly when faced with something new or challenging.
- Lesson three: Come with a point of view. This is probably the most important lesson I’ve learned. Everyone brings a unique perspective based on their own background and sets of experiences. In my case, I’ve been in the tech world for 20 years, but I don’t have a computer science or technology background; I have a liberal arts degree and an MBA, both of which have given me a unique point of view in the business development world. As long as your idea is grounded in data and is well informed, being purposeful and proactive about your contributions and perspectives are so important to building credibility and earning trust.