The idea of starting at the bottom in business and working your way to the top is rarely offered as a career strategy now. In today's corporate environment, much more emphasis is put on picking the right college degree to appeal to recruiters than making your own Horatio Alger success story. It turns out, though, that it is still possible to succeed with that old fashioned route, and Jennifer Glick - vice president, branch manager, and senior escrow agent with Fidelity National Title - is the proof.
"This particular profession does not require you to have a college education," she says. "There's really nothing that you can be taught. It's all pretty much hands on. There's nothing that you can read in any type of a textbook to know how to close an escrow. The best way to do it is like I did - just start from the bottom and work your way up. That way, you can figure out which avenue within the industry that you like, whether it be title or customer service or escrow or admin. There are different areas where you can go - it's just which is going to fulfill what you enjoy doing."
Glick did not begin her adult life with dreams of a career conducting real estate transactions. Instead, based on a recommendation from her mother, she pursued her cosmetology license.
"My mom used to do hair when she and my dad first got married, and she always wanted me to get my license because she felt as though it was something that you'd always have something that you could fall back on. I actually changed my whole career path - that was what I wanted to do, because I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed being with the people, I enjoyed cutting hair and doing the coloring and all of that stuff. I did it in high school, through a vocational ROP, so when I graduated from high school I had my license within a few months. Well, I was 17 or 18 years old. Who wants to work nights and weekends when you're 17 or 18 years old? I didn't want to, so I quickly needed to try and figure out what to do."
Seeking a more conventional schedule, she signed up with a temp agency and quickly found work as a receptionist with Transamerica Financial, a mortgage lender. It was there that her analytical aptitude first showed itself to be an important asset.
"In that particular field at that time we didn't do anything with a computer," she recalls. "There were no computers. We drew loan documents via the typewriter and it was one of those things where we finally got a computer system in the office and nobody really knew how to use it. Everybody was kind of green when it came to computers. My father was an electronic engineer for Hewlett Packard, so I was kind of born with a computer as a pacifier. I ended up being the one that inputted everything at that point because of the fact that I picked it up. Any type of computer program, you pretty much put in front of me and I'll pick up on it pretty quickly and be able to master the system."
Unhappy with the prospects for advancement in the loan industry, she followed up on a tip that Chicago Title in Hayward was looking for a receptionist and was hired immediately. "That was it - everything went from there. I started as a receptionist and worked my way all the way up."
The field proved to be a perfect fit for Glick's skills and mentality. "I've always been the type of person where everything in my life has to have a 'why' for me," she says. "I have to have some sort of explanation."
That approach has served her well in her advancement. "I started out in an escrow branch as a receptionist and kind of mastered the skills that I needed for that job, the daily tasks that they were having me do," she says. "They would continue to keep adding them and then from there I just found interest in all of the aspects of this industry. I've done everything from escrow to customer service to title to working in special projects, commercial and residential. I found my passion in the residential side, resale and refi."
Her approach to her job is not dissimilar from what would have been required of her father as an electrical engineer: build a base of knowledge and keep adding to that base. "The opportunity to learn something new every day keeps it fresh," she says. "There are still things that I learn today. I mean, I still don't know everything.
"Every file is different. Sometimes you may do five transactions that all go smoothly and everything's great, but then you'll get a challenging transaction where you have to think outside the box to try and figure out ways that you're going to be able to clean up someone's title to get it to close on time. For instance, in one transaction we were just working on today, there was an old deed of trust that had shown up on the title from 15 transactions prior. At that point, it's about finding who in fact was paid off, if that lender is even still in business. So if it was, say Great Western, who was taken over by Washington Mutual, then it went to Chase, you have to keep finding which bank you need to contact now to be able to start investigating to confirm that it was paid off to get that lien removed. Those types of things take a lot of time."
While she enjoys that kind of intricate problem solving, what she enjoys most about the job is the people. "My biggest passion is helping the homeowners, seeing the joy on their face," she says. "I love listening to their stories. I love hearing about when they first acquired their home and where they're going on their next journey."
Those buying their first place are particularly dear to Glick. "Watching the first time home buyer for the very first time get their very first set of keys is an amazing experience, and to be able to help someone get to that point is an amazing feeling for me. I just I love it."
She also has high praise for her team of seven employees in Pleasanton.
"I am surrounded by an amazing group of employees. I can't say enough wonderful things about them and I feel like I'm only as good at what I do as the people that I surround myself with," she says. "If you think about it, you spend the majority of your time at work, versus at your home life or your social life. So I've always tried to tell everybody, 'make sure that you love what you do, love the people that you work with, because if you come to work every single day and you're miserable, that's no fun. That's no way to spend your life, you know. But I think right now, we all work very well together and I truly believe that everybody enjoys being here, and I think it's really important. I don't think I could be where I am or do what I do or get any of the branch awards or anything like that. It is not just about me. It takes each and every single one of them as well, and I think that all of them play a huge part in our success."
If there is a lesson to be learned from Glick's story, it may just be that caring for people, combined with an earnest effort on the job, can lead to great success.
Photo: Jenny Glick, Regional Manager - Fidelity National Title
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