Problem Solvers with Big Ideas: Meet the Women Who Invent at Fannie Mae
The computer algorithm, Kevlar, and the modern electric refrigerator are all notable inventions – made possible by women. Women’s inventions throughout the centuries have been remarkable, but the disparity between men and women inventors is stark.
While the nationwide statistics are disappointing, at Fannie Mae we know that great ideas are born from diverse thought. 53 percent of Fannie Mae’s U.S. patents have women inventors. And in fact, one of our patented inventions was developed by an all-women team. The patents granted to women at Fannie Mae, which range from an app that helps buy and acquire loans to an electronic document that is secure and reliable enough to use for mortgage transactions, exceeds industry norms and demonstrates the success of an inclusive company culture that values new ideas and opportunities.
I sat down with several of our women inventors to explore their ideas about innovation and their paths to success. What I learned was both insightful and inspiring. Here are my takeaways:
- Honing-in on your strengths drive innovation. A Director in our Risk Management Team, Patty Koscinski, said “Innovation requires knowing what you do well enough to identify what could be done better.”
- Innovation creates change, and change is hard. VP of our Customer Delivery Team, Jenney Shen, doubles down on this idea, noting that “innovation means change and change is hard for a lot of people. Perseverance is key to people embracing a new idea, product, or process.”
- Testing and learning are integral to innovation. Leslie Holmes, Director of Human Resources, describes innovation as “the process of brainstorming new ideas, testing them, and learning from the results to ultimately make them come to life.”
- Innovation requires imagination. Maria Bulycheva, Director of Quantitative Modeling, emphasized that to come to the best solution, innovations should be ideated with the future state and the customers’ needs in mind.
Another of our inventors, Lisa Dorsey, Director of Technology, said, “I convened a diverse team with many perspectives. Our collective backgrounds and knowledge helped us overcome obstacles that would have been daunting for a single person.” That speaks to the core of my role in leading enterprise diversity and inclusion: to create a culture where we harness the power of a diverse workforce to achieve optimal business results and expand opportunities to the entire housing industry. We will continue to support an environment that amplifies great ideas from all.