Welcome to our very first blog posting of our #GetToKnow series. This series will feature an interview with one of our Dividend Team members and will give our network the opportunity to meet the people behind it all. Our first interview will be with Tamiko Little, our Credit Manager here at Dividend, San Diego. Check out what a day in the life of Tamiko entails from making edge case decisions, to managing her team, and everything in between. When she's not at work she's most likely taking a trip with her friends, at her son's football game, or warming up for our next company hula hoop competition. Here's what she had to say:
Q: Can you tell me about a day in the life of Tamiko?
A: Well, my alarm goes off and I hit snooze (me too), until my son comes knocking on the door and is says "Mom… are you ready?" So, I wake up and I take my son to school. I always stop for a nice cup of coffee and I enjoy the long commute…it gives me some time to myself, because once I step foot in the office, it's nonstop – go, go, go. Lots of fielding questions, phone calls, looking at edge cases. (What are those?) An edge case is a situation where they're just right outside of our automated criteria and we try to see if there's a way to justify them being within our criteria. Instead of giving them a hard no, I like to try to a way we can work with the homeowner. Such as, "if you can provide me this, this, and this, we can make it work." (So, do you make the final call?) Ultimately, I have made the final call on a lot of deals, but I always bounce ideas off my team. I present the situation in an unbiased fashion – "okay, tell me you what you guys would do with this loan" and we do a lot of collaborating. It's nice when you have a really strong team. Sure, I'm the manager but a lot of times they have better ideas or a better solution to the situation at hand.
Q: So, how'd you get into Underwriting and Operations?
A: I was starting to get a little tired of collections and there was an opportunity to manage an underwriting team. So, I began underwriting deep subprime auto loans from recent BK customers. I jumped right into some deep heavy underwriting, all for auto customers. I did the underwriting, the funding, and the onboarding. It's what spurred my interest in underwriting in the first place – I found a new love.
"[Dividend] is a nice mesh of two generations working together – the best of old banking and business practices mixed with new banking and technology."
Q: How would you describe the dynamic on your team?
A: Very dynamic [Laughs]. We have a lot of big personalities and you would think that wouldn't go over so well, but it seems to really work for my team. Even the ones who are more bashful and quiet, break out creating a great balance within the team. They are a really strong group with a nice blend of mortgage and auto backgrounds, nearly split right down the middle. Each of them brings credit, underwriting, or processing experience, all which are so valuable to the team. We create a very strong and scalable process to efficiently get more work done in less time.
Q: How did you end up at Dividend? How long have you been with the company?
A: Well, someone called me and asked me to come over – and they kept calling and calling [Laughs]! I was curious. I felt like it was the right time to transition from my last job into something even more exciting and more along the lines of what I wanted to do. (How many people where here when you started?) It was 5 of us, down here in San Diego. We're the ones who sat in those little fold up chairs you've seen pictures of, before there was even any furniture. It's so exciting to see how much has changed and how much Dividend has grown since then.
Q: What do you like to do outside of work?
A: I really enjoy traveling with friends and family. My favorite little trips to do are to Phoenix, Big Bear, Yosemite, with the family. Next year, I'm planning a big trip, I'm thinking Costa Rica or something along those lines. If I'm not going on trips or traveling, I'm at my youngest son's football games. He's an avid football player and actually pretty good - he just loves it. With my older kids, we like to visit museums and spend time outdoors.
Q: How would you describe Dividend's culture?
A: It's a fun, hardworking, dynamic culture with a lot of diversity. It's a nice mesh of two generations working together – the best of old banking and business practices mixed with new banking and technology. I've been in finance for years and I'll be honest, I always thought, there was a right way to do things, but Dividend has shown me there's an even better way. It's really nice and exciting to see that. And to say look this is what we've done before and let's put a little technology behind it and make it even smarter and faster.
Q: What do you like best about your job?
A: I like putting the pieces together and the investigative work that comes with my job. Making sense of the deal and realizing that the FICO in itself may not tell the whole story, but sometimes you need to dig a little deeper. Making it all work and finding those paths forward for Dividend with the right client. Although, it's not always easy being the gate keeper. I like finding a work around for people – "do we need a co-applicant? Do we need to verify income?" Discovering those ways to find a path forward and then also my least favorite part, when I have to overturn something. I appreciate the opportunity to go back to the installer and tell them this time it won't work and here's why this is a no. It gives me a chance to instill some hope that even though this time was a no, I say "let's get the next one." Through this mutual respect and appreciation for one another, we ultimately build and keep a relationship going.