‘mPowering You’ connects women during MBA Annual and beyond

December 4, 2017 | By

Did you notice some of the women high-fiving each other in the hallways at MBA Annual this year? Those women had built a bond during “mPowering You,” held in Denver on October 21, just before the start of the annual conference.

mPower is short for MBA Promoting Opportunities for Women to Extend their Reach and links professionals in the real estate finance industry. While the group specifically targets the interests and issues of professional women, any MBA member can join the mPower community.

Feeling “mPowered” has always been top of mind for me as a woman in the business world.

“mPowering You was the buzz of the conference,” acknowledges Marcia Davies, MBA’s chief operating officer and 30-year industry veteran. A short video with highlights from Mpowering You was shown to the general session. “Women came out of the breakout meeting energized and having those connections made the annual convention experience just that much more robust,” she adds.

Joining Forces

Davies is the driving force behind mPower. In 2015 she invited 85 women for lunch and networking during MBA’s annual meeting in San Diego. Hundreds showed up.

Retiring MBA President and CEO Dave Stevens and Davies agreed that MBA should encourage networking among women in the industry – that it would be good for the women and the industry. “He saw the trend that was occuring,” Davies says of Stevens.

MBA formed an advisory group that created the platform that became mPower. The idea was to share information that would be valuable to the association’s women members, and encourage members to make connections with other women in the industry.

mPower met officially during the 2016 annual meeting in Boston and the online community quickly grew to several hundred members. There are over 1,200 in the community after one year and it continues to grow.

In October, 348 members gathered for the standalone daylong event, representing all age and tenure groups, says Davies. Speakers included Mika Brzezinski , co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe and best-selling author; Dr. Tracey Wilen, a New York Times best-selling author; and Ruth Sherman, executive speech coach and celebrity media trainer. (View all speakers)

There is a hunger for this type of connection between women in the mortgage industry, evidenced by the quickly growing number of participants at mPower events.

Read more: 8 top women in mortgage finance offer career encouragement, advice

A Growing Movement

Interest will remain strong as long as women face obstacles to climbing the corporate ladder.

According to an August 2016 report from the Pew Research Center, 63 percent of women say obstacles that make it harder for women than men to get ahead in the workforce continue to exist ¾ but fewer men (41 percent) think women still face those obstacles.

The disconnect makes it important to keep men in the room as women discuss these issues and propose change, says Davies. In fact, ARCH MI’s CEO Andrew Rippert spoke at the event and his company is a Platinum sponsor. Additionally, Bill Cosgrove, owner and CEO of Union Home Mortgage Corp and 2015 MBA chairman, addressed the group and sent 13 women from his organization to the Denver meeting and convention.

What’s Ahead

mPower isn’t the only movement to connect women in the financial services industry but it’s the biggest effort to date.

MBA has the advantage of an extended reach, notes Davies, supported by the substantial number of annual conferences and meetings it holds from one end of the country to the other all year long.

“That’s what MBA is doing differently,” Davies says, adding that the sheer scale of MBA’s resources makes it a natural foundation for mPower. This year, mPower will be part of several MBA-sponsored events.

“I wish there had been something like this when I was coming up the ranks,” says Davies. “For years, I was the only woman it the room. That still happens but not as frequently.”

To learn more or join mPower, please visit https://www.mba.org/get-involved/mpower

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