You tend to hear from Jim in our LodeStar Reports, but it’s time to hear from the other folks who make up our amazing team! This week, we talked with Alayna Gardner, our Sales and Marketing Manager./i>
So what brought you to the mortgage industry—specifically, LodeStar?
Actually, LodeStar is my first job in this industry. I stumbled upon a job posting on Indeed. At the time, I was looking to transition out of the hospitality industry, especially with the impact of COVID. I was also ready for a change. I’d spent years doing event planning for a hotel restaurant. So, I applied on a whim for a position here as a cold caller and was hired. A month or two later, I moved into my current role in marketing and sales..
You’ve worked in several other industries outside of mortgage tech. How is the mortgage industry different from some of those other experiences? Has anything in particular stood out to you from this industry?
Yes! It’s less stuffy than I thought it would be. To be honest, I thought this would be more about guys in suits! To be fair, right now everyone is wearing sweatpants (during the pandemic). But everyone’s been very approachable and willing to give their time to help me get acclimated. I can very much see myself in this industry for a long time to come.
You’re an integral part of the production of LodeStar’s new video podcast, “LodeStar’s Lending Leaders.” Tell us a little about how you’re involved, and what you’ve enjoyed most about producing it so far?
I had actually (during the pandemic) started my own personal podcast, which was hospitality focused. I was starting to pivot away from that when Jim (Paolino) approached me with his idea for LLL. So that personal experience was invaluable—to have stumbled through a passion project, then to be able to incorporate what I’d learned into this.
I’m a big believer in continuing education for professionals. I’m currently finishing up my service as a volunteer for a Board of Directors where I’m the VP of Communications for the Philadelphia Area chapter of Meeting Professionals International. Now I know how to make graphics; do high volume social media posting and strategic planning and so forth. I believe you have to take every high-level opportunity to volunteer. And I’m excited to bring these new skills to my new industry and LodeStar!
Tell us one thing people would never believe about you?
Gosh…Do you want a fun fact or do you want something that’s a little more personal but more “pitchable”? (laughs) Ok. I’ll give you both…
I took dance for 14 years. From age 4 to 18. I did ballet, Irish step, tap, acro, hip-hop, lyrical…but I’m terrible on the dance floor! It has to be choreographed. So get me on the dance floor at a wedding and I’m really uncomfortable.
As to my other fact; I’ve personally struggled with anxiety and depression. So I’ve become a vocal advocate on the matter. It’s important to discuss the topic with other professionals. Not only management, but peers and all staff. I think it’s really important to be authentic and ok to be vulnerable at times. Your teammates—especially any that you manage—need to recognize that managers aren’t perfect people. To manage well, you don’t want to be perceived as “A Boss.”
I’ve been in management for ten years, and my best management moments have all been focused on mentoring and giving others an opportunity to succeed. A lot of that starts with truly being yourself and recognizing your own challenges. I’ve gotten a number of messages from other professionals thanking me for discussing the topic. It’s just something people rarely talk about in any business or professional setting, but it’s really important. No one should have to feel alone in their struggles and it’s important to normalize conversations about mental health in the workplace.