Chief Operating Officer of Mortgage Bankers Association and founder of mPower, Marcia Davies, shares her inspiration for creating mPower as well as her thoughts on the power of mentorship and supporting the next generation of female leaders in the workplace.

SABRINA PARK: Tell us about the mPower origin story—what compelled you to start the organization? How can women in the real estate finance industry join/get involved and what can they expect from an mPower membership?

MARCIA DAVIES: In my role as Chief Operating Officer at MBA, I have a unique window into the state of our industry—not just in D.C., but across the entire nation. The more I traveled, the more I met women who didn’t know other women in our field. So, I decided to do something to bring women together. 

I started by planning what I thought was a simple, one-off event. I sent out invitations to 75 other women in the industry, asking them to join me for a lunch. I figured that turnout would be good, but not great. So, imagine my surprise when I showed up to lunch and found 150 women—twice the number that I had invited.

In a very real sense, mPower started that day, at that lunch, with those women. It proved to me that you can do more than you ever dreamed. You can stand out and make a difference. We’ve been proving it every day since.

SP: Please share some of your thoughts about the power of mentorship. What it was like for you cultivating meaningful mentor relationships early on in your career? What are some valuable career lessons you’ve learned from your mentors along the way?

MD: Mentors are an important part of professional support and growth. Mentorship can be formal and/or informal relationships in nature. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have great leaders who, in turn, became mentors. Early in my career, I worked with an amazing, dynamic woman who became a champion of my work and coached me on how to lead others.  She taught me leadership lessons that I still practice today. For example, she taught me how to be supportive without micromanaging, how to recognize and value diversity of thought, and how to effectively deal with conflict.  

SP: What are some steps companies should take to foster gender balance and support the next generation of female leaders in the workplace?

MD: I believe we will make meaningful progress when leaders are purposeful and accountable. Therefore, I encourage senior executives to have clear plans, strategies and measurable goals that make inclusion part of their employee engagement initiatives and culture.

SP: What advice would you offer women looking to grow within their organization and in real estate finance industry as a whole?

MD: The best advice I can offer is to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and take some risks. You don’t need to take big risks, but if you want to advance, it’s important you challenge yourself and deliver results not only in those areas you are expected to, but also in ways that demonstrate the comprehensive nature of your abilities. It’s also important to make sure people are aware of your accomplishments. Trust me, I’m certain it will be more than people realize. 

SP: You’ve played such a tremendous role empowering/inspiring women in the real estate finance industry. Who inspires you, and why?

MD: Women in this industry inspire me every day. The way they have shown up to support one another and the power that comes from those connections is remarkable. For example, I’ve found that mPower helps women “make the ask,” whether it’s for a raise, a sale, or a business deal. Stuff like that comes easy for men. Thanks to the strength of mPower, it’s starting to come easier for more women.

I encourage every woman to join our movement today. Connect with us at www.mba.org/mPower.