December 6, 2013

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Teresa Whitehead: Helping People Live the American Dream

By Melanie Johnson

December 6, 2013

The mortgage industry is stressful, but you wouldn’t know it from talking to Citywide Home Loans CEO Teresa Whitehead. As far as Whitehead is concerned, she has the best job in the world—a job that brings her happiness and allows her to help others.

“I’m passionate about this job because what we do matters. We don’t just do mortgage loans, we get people into their houses. I tell my employees that what we do is give somebody the house where they’ll take pictures of their kids on Christmas morning,” Whitehead says.

Not only is she passionate about her work, but she’s good at it too. Part of Whitehead’s success can be attributed to her ability and willingness to change along with the industry. According to Whitehead, the best loan officers used to work in broker shops not in banks, credit unions or for correspondence lenders. Whitehead herself has been in the credit industry for 30 years, 15 of which she spent in the wholesale mortgage industry. However, when the housing industry started to crash in 2007, things started to change. New regulations made it so that many customers were moving toward correspondence lenders.

At that same time, Citywide President and Founder Steve Goorman knew the company needed to grow to not only survive, but thrive. The stars aligned and Whitehead joined the company in 2009. And thrive they certainly have.

Six months after she joined Citywide, the company had increased production by 40 percent. And the company’s revenue jumped from $330 million in 2010 to $550 million in 2011 and an astounding $1.2 billion in 2012 under Whitehead’s leadership.

And that’s just the beginning. Whitehead would like to double production by the end of 2014 and see an even bigger increase over the next five years. She actively agrees with Goorman, who is known for saying “there is no standing still. You’re either moving forward or falling behind.” And as CEO, she is one of Citywide’s greatest driving forces as it continues to move forward.

Whitehead’s description of “wearing many hats” in her role as CEO is probably an understatement. Not only is she involved in marketing and strategic planning, but she also oversees 450 employees in a company with an open-door policy. “We really are like a big family. No one has a corner office in an ivory tower. Our leadership is hands on and my door is open for when people need help. If there are problems in a loan that no one can solve, it will end up on my desk,” Whitehead says.

Powered by passion and a great attitude, Whitehead is committed to Citywide going the extra mile for its customers. In fact, the victory of making Citywide loan officers better than competitors or putting a buyer in a home who has been turned down by other companies are all the motivation Whitehead needs to stay in an industry that is, by her own admission, inherently stressful.

“I truly have my dream job,” Whithead says. “Even on the bad days, even if I woke up tomorrow and had enough money in the bank to live the rest of my life the way I want to, I’d still get up and come to Citywide. I love what I do.”

Not only is Whitehead living the dream, but she’s helping others do the same as well.


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