In honor of International Women's Day, we're featuring a Q&A with MGIC's Vice President of Marketing, Margaret Crowley. Margaret shares her thoughts about DEI and workplace inclusivity, why homeownership matters to communities, and what women can do to continue growing their careers.
You’re the vice president of marketing at MGIC. Can you share a little bit about your journey in getting to where you are now?My career has been a very circuitous journey – how much time do you have? I've worked at MGIC for 39 years. I started right out of high school, at 17 years old, as a secretary in the Legal department. Because of my mad typing and shorthand skills, I was actually recruited by MGIC! During my tenure, I attended college part-time for 6 years while working full-time and raising 2 children. While that was very challenging, I wouldn’t change a thing. My journey here at MGIC includes working in Legal, Claims, Finance, IT, Corporate Training, eMagic (our tech startup) and finally Marketing, where I’ve been since 2006.
What advice would you give young women looking to grow their careers?
I have a few pearls of wisdom to share. When you’re first starting out in your career, or starting a position in a new industry, it’s so important to ask questions! I tell new hires at MGIC that they should have a list of questions every day for the first few months. For example, our industry is full of acronyms, and sometimes there is more than one acronym for the same thing!
Whether you're a new or tenured employee, take the initiative to raise your hand, look for opportunities to contribute and make yourself indispensable. It's also important to know your value. If you don’t know your value, you can’t effectively advocate for yourself. And it’s okay to talk about your accomplishments! Many women – myself included – hesitate to self-promote. Stating facts is not bragging!
Another piece of advice to help grow your career is find a mentor (or several). In addition to meeting with them, you can learn a lot by watching how they handle themselves, how they prepare for meetings, even how they navigate complex situations and relationships.
I also have some “old school” advice that helped me in my career: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” If you have career aspirations, the people who make promotion decisions need to be able to visualize you in that new role. Even in our more casual environment, presenting yourself in a polished, professional way is important (and yes, even jeans can look polished and professional!).
We’re celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8. Can you tell me what this day means to you?I think it’s an important day to celebrate women’s achievements, and to continue to bring attention to gender inequalities that still exist. This relates back to knowing your value so you can advocate for yourself. Like “self-promotion," women don’t often escalate perceived inequalities within their organization.
As a leader, when you go through a challenging time or situation, how do you get yourself back on track?
When I'm going through a difficult situation, I try to zoom out and look at the big picture, because one “bad” meeting or situation or project doesn’t undo all of the “good stuff." And, following a difficult event, I try not to let my emotions or disappointment about that event cloud my judgment and related decisions. I’m a firm believer in taking your work seriously, but not taking yourself too seriously.
One thing you can do to stay inspired and motivated, especially in times of adversity, is find your anthem (or a few) – songs that really drive and motivate you. For many people, music can increase productivity, improve concentration and regulate emotions. Pick your own anthem, or better yet, make an anthem playlist! Some of my go-to anthems are “Roar" by Katy Perry, “Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys and “Fight Song" by Rachel Platten. One of my daughter's favorites is “Brave" by Sara Bareilles. I'm always looking for new anthem recommendations, so share your favorites in the comments below!
Throughout your years at MGIC, you’ve become a passionate DEI advocate. Can you explain why it’s so important for a company to lead diversity and inclusion efforts?
From a social perspective, having a diverse and inclusive workplace is simply the right thing to do. From a business perspective, there are studies that show that diversity of thought and background also lead to better business outcomes. Cultivating this kind of work environment goes beyond just diversity of race or gender. I would also add that belonging is an important part of any DEI strategy. Individuals who feel like they belong are more likely to freely share ideas and insights and generally be more engaged.
At MGIC we are committed to inclusivity and DEI, and as part of those efforts, we're launching a new national webinar series called “DEI Compass." I'll be moderating our first webinar, “Another Dimension of Inclusion: Seeing the World Through the Lens of Ableism." Our guest speaker will share the importance of focusing on people's abilities rather than their disabilities, and how to create a culture of acceptance.
Why is it important for mortgage industry leaders to have a diverse perspective, especially as it relates to homeownership and affordability?
There is a racial disparity in wealth creation for homeowners and non-homeowners. As such, it’s critical that lenders make an effort to close the racial/ethnic gaps to create sustainable homeownership opportunities. In addition, there are studies that show that homeownership leads to stronger and healthier communities, higher educational achievement, reduced crime and, importantly, generational wealth creation.
What songs would you include on your own anthem playlist? Share them in the comments below!
The opinions and insights expressed in this Q&A are solely those of its interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of either Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation or any of its parent, affiliates, or subsidiaries (collectively, “MGIC”). Neither MGIC nor any of its officers, directors, employees or agents makes any representations or warranties of any kind regarding the soundness, reliability, accuracy or completeness of any opinion, insight, recommendation, data, or other information contained in this blog, or its suitability for any intended purpose."