PERSON OF THE WEEK: David Isljamovski recently returned to the mortgage business after a 10-year hiatus and now serves as national business development manager for MiMutual Mortgage. As MortgageOrb learned during a recent interview, Isljamovski has a fresh take on how to best help mortgage professionals grow their careers.
Q: Having worked with high-profile tech companies for the last several years, why did you choose to return to the mortgage business?
Isljamovski: After putting myself through college working in the mortgage business, I learned much about the spirit of being an entrepreneur. The mortgage industry taught me true grit and how to be scrappy. These were very useful traits for the next phase of my career in the tech world. I moved to the Silicon Valley area during the crash in 2008 in order to start a whole new career. I went to work for a start-up – and this is where those traits I learned in mortgage were extremely beneficial. After a few years, we were acquired by a Fortune 50 tech giant. My job was business-to-business sales helping small business owners find affordable technology solutions to grow their businesses.
As I spent time with these small business owners, I realized my love for making a difference by helping entrepreneurs grow their careers, build businesses in their communities and make a difference in the lives of others.
Q: What’s it like being a 30-something in a graying industry? Does this help or hurt you?
Isljamovski: Interestingly, I feel uniquely positioned to understand and be able to relate to the generational cross-section that is the future of the mortgage industry. The new buzz term is “omni-channel,” where effective sales require communicating with customers of different generations on their terms. Being able to relate to people, from baby boomers to generation Y, means understanding who you are working with and fluidly communicating with them via phone, email, chat, text or social media. Working with a company that embraces technology and encourages its sales force to be omni-channel in its approach is vital to renewing its relevance every day and in the future.
Q: What unique challenges do mortgage professionals face that can sometimes cause them to look for new opportunities?
Isljamovski: Regardless of the industry, people love or leave their companies for similar reasons. People generally leave due to work-life imbalance; a lack of sales and operational support; feeling undervalued by company management; or a lack of coaching, training and continued education.
In my previous roles, it was extremely important to not only achieve the right work-life balance, but also nurture the different types of employees’ personalities and their needs.
Most importantly, making sure your employees feel valued and have a say in the decision-making process can be equally as valuable as their salary.
Coaching, training and continued education are of the utmost importance to not only the employee, but also the company itself. Continued growth directly correlates to success. This is one of the reasons I came to work for MiMutual. It was immediately evident how important this mindset is for management.
If you continue to improve your mind, it leads to growth in all other aspects of your life.
Q: What is your approach to business development, and how is it different from others?
Isljamovski: I once heard someone say it is important to choose your neighborhood and school district before buying a home. Then select the house you like once you know where you want to be. If you choose the house that is perfect for you without due diligence or evaluating if it is the right neighborhood for your family, you could end up in big trouble.
It’s the same with taking a role at a new company. Basic things such as meeting the other employees and determining if you’re the right fit culturally are just as important as the salary and job description.
It’s not that a company is either good or bad; it’s good or bad for certain individuals based on their needs and career goals. In fact, a true fit may never be found, but you can find the best fit based on where you are in your career and life. I always find “cultural fit” to be one of the most important factors when thinking about a move or another company.
“Cultural fit” seems to be a hot-button phrase people use when thinking about the right fit. It’s important for a company to share its culture and viewpoint with candidates, in addition to bringing them in to meet other employees and helping them get a real feel for the culture of the company.
This is how I look at business development. I make sure everyone is a fit culturally and can work well together before moving forward. Trying to make personalities and differing attitudes blend can be a difficult job and hazardous to the success of any company.
Q: What three questions should people ask themselves now to determine if they should consider making a move to grow their careers?
Isljamovski: I think the three main questions one should always ask oneself before making a change are the following:
1) What are my “non-negotiables” for the future of my career, and how does this company fulfill those non-negotiables?
2) Does this company share my values?
3) Is there true growth for me in this next move?
If you consider these questions before making a career move, it should benefit you, as well as the company.