March is Women’s History Month and RiskSpan is marking the occasion by sharing a short series of posts featuring advice from women leaders in our industry.

Today’s contributor is Dr. Amy Crews CuttsPresident and Chief Economist of AC Cutts and Associates, an economics and strategy consulting firm based in Reston, VA. She started her professional career as academic and she used that experience to build her network, soon landing at Freddie Mac. There she honed her professional skills and reputation as an economist, writer, and speaker. Amy was engaged by Equifax in 2011 to create the office of the chief economist. She has been recruited to serve on corporate and nonprofit advisory boards and elected to serve on boards of directors of leading economics associations. Amy has become an internationally recognized expert on consumer credit and economic policy and is a sought-after speaker and advisor. She is a participant in the Wall Street Journal Survey of Leading Economics, and her work has been cited in federal regulations and in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Amy offers this guidance to women embarking on their careers (though it is applicable to everyone): 

#1 – Look deep for your talents and passion. We tend to think of jobs as titles rather than the small things that make up the role. The best day of my career came when I embraced the joy in the small parts of the job, and from that I was able to move mountains within the company and create the role that suited me.  

#2 – Build your networks always. When invited to join others for lunch, go! There are always deadlines, but this is just as important. You never know when you will learn a critically valuable piece of information from a casual conversation. When given the opportunity to present (internally or externally), take it, and know that they respect you enough to have asked and they care about what you have to say. Even a small opportunity may be the start of something big, so jump in with both feet.   

#3 – Speak up and, when you have a strong opinion, add your voice to the discussion (but never, ever, make it personal). In a corporate setting, you get one chance to speak critically of a plan, a policy, or problem. After that you need to move on because you were heard, even if they chose to go against your advice. Good counsel is valuable in every organization. Be someone others want to get advice from. 

We also asked Amy what, if anything, she might have done differently. Her response: 

My biggest regrets have come from not being openminded enough. I didn’t know at the time that the days of secretaries were numbered, but I rejected the suggestion of taking a typing class in high school because I had bigger plans (who knew we would spend our days typing?). I never learned how to code well because, at the time I was in college, computer science courses were mainly for mainframe applications (unfortunately, I did take APL programming, an already dying language in the 1980s). I have rejected job opportunities because I did not fit 100 percent of the job description but would later see someone much less capable in that role, with the prestige or promotion I should have tried for.

Our thanks to Amy for her valuable perspective!

Keep an eye on this month for insights from other women we admire in mortgage and structured finance.

RiskSpan is proud to sponsor POWER OF VOICE BENEFIT. Girls Leadership teaches girls to exercise the power of their voice. #powerofvoice2021