A Q&A With Lindy Masson
Lindy was Canada ICI’s Winnipeg office’s first employee before graduating from the University of Manitoba in 2014 with a bachelor of commerce, honors degree in finance. Her contributions to the CICI team include underwriting, conducting market research, helping to facilitate funding, and assisting brokers with projects. Lindy’s relationship with her clients and her savvy communication skills help to make Canada ICI’s Winnipeg office the success it is today.
Working during COVID-19
How did the pandemic change the work you do?
The 8:45 meetings during COVID really improved communication even though we weren’t physically together. Any questions regarding the work for that day could be asked at the morning meeting. The daily meeting allowed for direct communication about what deals we were working on, and the meetings stayed focused
How has your communication changed as an underwriter at ICI since COVID-19?
Dealing with Borrowers and Lenders is the same because I dealt with them mostly over email or phone. The only communication difference is not meeting with the brokers in person, although phone calls and messaging on Microsoft Teams has been a seamless transition.
What have you learned through this new way of working?
We all learned a lot of new technology. The tech was a learning curve, but the learning was beneficial because now we know how to use technology and are able to use more effective ways to communicate with our team or people outside the company.
How did the prevailing uncertainty caused by the pandemic affect the Winnipeg office?
In many ways, work was the same as pre-COVID. We could work efficiently and remotely while dealing with uncertainty. Everyone did their daily tasks and pulled together as a team.
Working Effectively as a Team
To what do you attribute the large volume of work in the Winnipeg ICI office?
I attribute the work volume to Chase’s management style. He molded people who were right out of school to fit the way he manages and created his unique team atmosphere very early on. When a team works well together and knows the part they contribute, the more they are able to handle and to keep up with high levels of production. The numbers we’re putting up can be credited to everyone on the team pulling their weight to ensure a high level of accuracy and to deliver.
What’s the team’s process for dealing with such a large volume of files?
In a typical workday I work on approximately 20 deals, varying in degree from just touching base to fully underwriting a deal. There’s never a day at work when anyone is just working on one deal. We’re touching base throughout the day on every file. We all work hard when we’re at work. There’s no lull.
What’s the benefit of touching base on deals so often?
Touching base at least once every two days helps everyone that is involved in the deal. Borrowers, Lenders, and brokers all want to be updated, and touching files often allows the Winnipeg team to do this. Everyone wants to be kept in the loop.
Working Effectively as an Individual
What attributes do you have that make you good at what you do?
Being efficient is very important. I have been asked how our team is able to fund 20 deals in 20 days, and the answer is by being on top of everything, being efficient and simplifying tasks. I’ve learned to cut out necessary steps and streamline my work by limiting my tasks to the efforts that pay off which comes from experience.
Organization and speed are a couple of the most important traits in our office. If you learn quickly and are detail oriented, you’ll be able to turn deals around fast as a senior mortgage underwriter. Experience builds confidence which allows an underwriter to be very efficient.
Do you have a habit that keeps you organized?
Having everything organized in my email and files helps and so does keeping a priority list of what files should be worked on before others.
What motivates you?
Seeing deals getting closed is a motivator, but it’s less about deals closing and more about doing my job well. I get a lot of satisfaction from the work I do.
I’ve learned to cut out necessary steps and streamline my work by limiting my tasks to the efforts that pay off which comes from experience.
Working in the Winnipeg Office
How is working in Winnipeg different (geographically) than working in other Canadian cities?
I think Winnipeg is great. The people are fun and friendly, and it’s family-oriented.
It’s a stable market, especially the real estate market. There aren’t the larger transactions that you see in other larger cities in Winnipeg, but our office is all about the small wins. We get smaller, but many more, deals. It’s important that we’re a strong team because of the large number of files we need to process.
Describe the office culture in Winnipeg.
Everyone’s happy to be at work in Winnipeg, it’s a good culture. If you’re overwhelmed, someone will help you out. It’s very much a team atmosphere.
Working with Chase for seven years, how has your office grown professionally?
Being trusted with a lot of responsibility early on and not being micromanaged helped me to grow as a professional and to improve at my job. We’re a team, but each of us gets to work independently. Placing trust in the employees helps the employees greatly because they feel pride in contributing to the success of the company.
What systems are in place to allow the Winnipeg team to be so efficient?
The deal sheet – a template created by and used in the Winnipeg office – is very helpful. It’s a list of documents that need to be sent for each transaction. We use the deal sheet as a touch base system to keep us organized when processing so many deals daily.
Is the Winnipeg office doing more volume than usual or is this usual?
Honestly, this is quite normal. We’re busier now than we expected to be during COVID. During the first couple years of business in Winnipeg, there were quiet periods during the summer, but now we’re busy year-round.