Kathy Gregory has had a decorated career. Winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year at the Canadian Mortgage Awards, Gregory is the Canadian mortgage industry’s first female CEO.
However, there’s one thing that the brash, hardnosed and funny president and CEO of Paradigm Quest is adamant about:
“I never paid attention to it and I largely ignore it,” Gregory said of being among the few high-powered women in the country’s industry. “If I ignore it, most people will ignore it because it’s not part of our discussion. My whole career, I’ve been in boardrooms and meeting rooms, and looking back, if I was one of two women in a meeting I’d ignore it. Don’t let them make it part of the conversation. They may come to the able with perceived views, but your ability to convince them you’ll be a success is gender irrelevant.”
She added that the biting realities of the financial services world have more to do with cut-throat competition than they do with gender.
“It’s hard for anybody to start a company and get recognition in a financial and institutional environment regardless of your gender. It wasn’t harder because I’m a woman, it’s just harder.”
Gregory launched Paradigm Quest in 2005 and, thanks to years of experience in the banking world, steered the company towards $1.5bln in originations. By the conclusion of Paradigm’s third year, it had $5bln of assets under management.
Today, Paradigm Quest has over $30bln of assets under management and is positioned as one of the country’s top mortgage processors. A much as the banking industry may have inculcated conservatism in Gregory, she nevertheless realizes that an array of personalities comprise a successful company.
“We broke even our first year. The banking background changes you into a conservative planner. But we overachieved,” said Gregory. “The challenge with starting a company is you don’t know what will go wrong, and what you think will go wrong probably won’t and you’ll be hit out of left field. So surround yourself with people who don’t look, sound or smell like you. They have to be different. Surround yourself with really brilliant people with different skill sets but operate as a team. Sure, as the end of the day, the CEO makes the final decision but he or she better make it with the best information from different skill sets. We drive this ship together. I may get most of the accolades, but it’s owed to a bunch of people.”
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