With the retirement of CEO Curt Culver earlier this year, Pat Sinks assumed the CEO position at MGIC. Sinks and his leadership team are positioning the company for success in the ever-evolving residential housing finance system. Here, three freshly appointed team members describe what’s new (and old) at MGIC and why they believe they will continue to provide value to their customers.
HOME-GROWN, GRASS-ROOTS LEADERSHIP
Fished from a pool of secretarial talent in high school, Margaret Crowley started working at MGIC in 1982 when she was only 17 years old. With designs on being a professional secretary, Crowley, now vice president-marketing and customer experience, began her career in the legal department. “I could type 95 words a minute and take shorthand at 200 words a minute,” Crowley said.
Since then, “I’ve been in many different departments, in many different positions — and I’m not alone in that. That opportunity to gather experience in different areas of the company creates a well-rounded, knowledgeable team,” she said.
Senior Vice President-Business Strategy and Operations Sal Miosi was a college junior when he came to MGIC. “I was unloading boxes at UPS. I knew that job was exactly what I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life. I took a job in Data Services and a $3-an-hour pay cut, which my dad just couldn’t understand,” he said.
Miosi’s knowledge of PCs, databases and Lotus 1-2-3 were somewhat unique in 1988 and ultimately put his career on an IT-heavy track, but one that touched on the company’s core business areas, including sales, underwriting, risk and loss mitigation.
“This is a great place to model the good examples of others, to work hard and be rewarded for that hard work in an environment that makes you want to stay,” Miosi said.
Before joining MGIC in 1987, Jay Hughes, senior vice president-sales and business development, worked for a financial planning company. “I enjoyed the industry, but felt a little odd about planning people’s financial future when I was driving my parents’ car and living at home,” he said. Hughes jumped on an opportunity to become an MGIC account executive in the D.C. area. He got the job — along with a car and his own place to live.
“Nearly all of MGIC’s leadership team are home-grown,” he said. “That’s not to say that we don’t reach out when we see talent matched with opportunity. We’ve added three officers from outside of MGIC in the past year,” he said.
DOING THE RIGHT THING
Each of these long-tenured leaders shares a parallel view on what’s most important at MGIC.
“We all believe in helping families achieve and sustain homeownership. That’s our No. 1 priority. And we all believe that the best way to accomplish that is by doing the right thing — that was Curt’s mantra,” Crowley said.
Hughes added, “That sounds simple, but there have been occasions where doing the right thing was certainly not doing the popular thing. We have a leadership responsibility to our co-workers and customers to operate in a way that provides long-term sustainability. That’s what has allowed us to survive the ups and downs of this business since 1957.”
Miosi said, “Our corporate guiding principles — be obsessed about customers… be accountable, positive, trustworthy… invent and simplify… insist on the highest standards… look at the big picture… deliver results — these are the recipe for doing the right thing.
“It’s more than just a tagline. It’s being a team player,” Miosi continued, “where sometimes you recommend things that may not be the best thing for your project, but the right thing for the company.”
THE CUSTOMER'S ADVANTAGE
As a champion of the customer experience, Crowley said, “Doing the right thing helps us continuously improve and deliver superior customer service, something we’ve focused on since we opened our doors for business 58 years ago.
“We involve customers in our product development process. And we use our sales team as our eyes and ears to make sure we understand what’s important to the customer, so we can determine if there is a way we can help them be more successful,” she said.
Miosi sees that depth of experience developed from tenure contributes to doing the right thing. “We think long-term because we live with our decisions — the loans we insure — for a long time.
“Our veteran co-workers understand that what may feel right today may not be right for tomorrow. Having an appreciation for that is a great asset for our customers. They may not always agree with us, but I think they respect what we’re doing and why.”
Hughes is keenly aware that he is part of a bigger picture. “Our underwriting and customer service teams, our claims and servicing liaisons act as a bridge between our customers and our corporate headquarters. Every facet of the process is vital,” he said. “Our customers have come to expect that our responses will be well-thought-out, while also keeping their short- and long-term interests in mind.”
THEY GET KNOCKED DOWN, BUT THEY GET UP AGAIN
Miosi attributes MGIC’s current status and how today’s leadership team developed to CEO Pat Sinks’ forethought.
Sinks, who has been with MGIC for 36 years, said, “We were going through some pretty interesting times in 2007, 2008, 2009. As the foreclosure crisis was unfolding and we kept paying claims, our capital was shrinking rapidly. It was imperative to look further ahead.”
In early 2013, Sinks formed a business strategy team. “I wanted them thinking about our strategy for the next two years. It would have been much easier just focusing on the fire at hand — our core business,” Sinks said.
With the push from Sinks, Miosi said, “The team saw how we needed to reorganize and figured out the resources we needed to draw from,” he said.
“MGIC welcomes the opportunity to discuss new ideas or approaches about lending. And we bring a balanced approach to them — that is, we bring an open mind and creativity, but are using our experience as a road map for the future.
“Pat’s proactive thinking set us up well for success. His leadership has set the stage well for the coming years,” Miosi said.
THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT
“In addition to the opportunity to be part of the most important purchase in anyone’s lifetime,” Hughes is passionate about lessons learned. “We’ve all learned a lot of valuable lessons in the aftermath of the real estate crash,” he said.
“We currently have tremendous pent-up demand for housing. Regulatory challenges should be reduced over time, and roles will become better-defined. Millennials will be buying homes, and there will be an array of options for them to choose from.”
For Crowley, “Getting the company back to profitability was job one. And now, while homeownership rates are at a historic low, all the surveys support the fact that homeownership is still a goal for most people. We’re excited about helping those on the sidelines become homeowners.”
Miosi is excited to watch the dynamics play out. “As we grow the company, we continue to embrace promoting from within — giving co-workers the opportunity to raise their hands, to take chances. That’s vital to our success.
“At the same time, the best person for the job may not be at MGIC right now. Pat’s leadership team is a good mix of old and new. You get fresh perspective from new co-workers. Long-time co-workers provide perspective of why we do things the way we do. Then you weave a new approach,” he said.
“That’s a valuable balance for our customers — a healthy mix that we can bring to the table.
“Bringing in new blood changes things up. It’s happening here. People are walking a little faster, talking a little faster. It’s a more energized environment,” he said.
EXPERIENCE TRANSLATES INTO INNOVATION
The trio looks to draw on their experience to move the company ahead.
“Our team has been through boom and bust cycles, so we don’t get too excited about any one wave or any one dip,” Crowley said. “Our collective experience helps us be rational about market changes and see the long-term vision — the forest for the trees — as we develop new products,” she said.
Miosi said, “As little as five years ago, the big question was ‘will you be able to play a role?’ Today, it’s ‘how broad of a role can you play?’ There’s a desire and a need for more private capital in lending to shield taxpayers,” he explained.
“We’ve paid $13 billion in claims. We kept insuring loans through the crash. That we survived demonstrates we can play a broader role. We’re pretty bullish on that,” he said.
Hughes wrapped it all up: “Pat is a big believer in challenging the status quo, in staying ahead of the curve. Sal and his team are putting together products and ideas that touch on consumer-buying motives, market differences, customer efficiency and new credit enhancement ideas.
“Our team’s experience, gained from the lessons learned over five-plus decades and the new perspective of selected outside talent,” Hughes said, “puts us in a great position to help lead MGIC and the MI industry into the next era.”