Today’s women are more eager than ever to drive change in all spheres of their lives, including their families, careers, neighborhoods, and the global community. They have advanced from being unnoticed to taking on leadership positions and increasingly promoting inclusivity, especially in Africa. An excellent example of a powerful women leader is Laura Brandao.
Partner, Chief Growth Officer and CEO of Lighthouse Lending Capital Division since April of 2022, Laura Brandao brings her unique, energetic style of leadership to motivate EPM’s world-class, team of mortgage experts. The culture at EPM is what first drew Laura to EPM. Their passion for what they do, coupled with their mission to help the underserved in our communities realize their dream of home ownership aligned perfectly with Laura’s Why.
Laura Brandao, a 20+ year mortgage veteran, is fueled by her belief that helping families obtain a home is a one of the most rewarding ways to serve communities. Home is more than just a roof over your head. Home is where your family and children are provided for, kept warm and protected. Homeownership also is a contributing factor to generational wealth; something she strongly supports.
At first glance, this charming, happy-go-lucky woman seems more like your sister’s best friend, or someone you’d like to sit with at lunch. Once you have that first conversation with her, you quickly realize she’s so MUCH MORE than your first impression. This woman is dynamic! Her ability to focus on the big picture and uncanny knack of how to efficiently get from point A to point B have been the hallmark of her successes.
Laura Brandao has been recognized recently as 2022 Enterprising Woman of the Year, MPA 2022 Elite Women, 2022 Mortgage Banker’s Legends in Lending, 2022 Leaders in Finance Award, Global Women in Leadership Award winner, Sparking Change Award, 2022 10 Most Inspirational Businesspeople, 2022 NJBIZ leaders in finance, 2022 Legends in Lending, 2021 MPA housing Industry Icon, a 4-time winner of Most Powerful Women in Mortgage, a 3-time Woman of Influence, and a four-time Women with Vision winner.
As leader in Mortgage and Real Estate industry , Laura Brandao has dedicated herself to championing women by way of building interconnections, relationships, and mentorships. She is chair of NAMMBA’s Visionary program, the Chair of MBANJ Women’s Committee, Chair of Women with Vision, a Board Member of MBANJ, and Board Member of Mortflix.
Laura, a 4-time bestselling author, writings leave the reader feeling inspired and capable to achieve anything in life they put their mind to. (Say Yes Everyday, Say YES Everyday-
Everyone has a Story, 1 Habit for Women Action Takers, Win or Learn- the Naked Truth)
Every buyer has their own set of needs and sometimes even challenges – with that in mind, as Chief Growth Officer, Laura Brandao has made it her mission to continually seek out programs that will provide lending options to more Borrowers and enhance EPM’s dynamic loan programs. Realizing how under-utilized Down Payment Assistance Programs are, she worked with EPM’s Marketing department to relaunch their DPA’s.
Currently, EPM has over 60 DPA programs – and growing. Sometimes, all that is needed is a fresh perspective, and Laura has brought that to EPM. As part of her growth initiative, they have recently relaunched their VA Renovation, Non-QM, and Jumbo Express programs. “2023 is on track to bring more exciting programs to EPM”.
Laura Brandao has been referred to as a “servant leader” in the past, and she is continually seen in that light. She leads from the ground floor in order to have the most impact on the teams she leads. One of the most important components of my personal leadership style is to get to know the people I hire on a personal level that allows me to understand what lights them up and makes them excited and motivated to get up every morning and come to work. I have a sincere desire to encourage their personal success and provide them an environment that nurtures their unique talents and personal goals.
Meeting with each employee for a casual “MacGyver” conversation to find out about who they are, how their days are, and what challenges they face, Laura Brandao is more than just a C-level executive at EPM. The staff know her – and respect her because she actively listens – and gets things done.
“Early in my career, I found myself in a workplace that was more of a homogeneous treadmill with little encouragement for staff to strive for better or enjoy their work. For me, true leadership is working to bring out the very best in the people you lead. To do that, it is essential to recognize that each employee is unique and comes with their own, singular set of skills, strengths, and capabilities.
I believe a firm will be more productive and successful when they give their staff the latitude and encouragement to express themselves through their work, and that involving employees in the entire process, allows them to take pride in whatever contributions they made to the overall outcome of their labor.
“When I made it to the C-suite, I focused on working with my staff and leading by example and encouragement, as opposed to insisting on tight dedication to mundane task lists and tight control of the daily details. I made it part of my leadership mission to empower my employees to take responsibility and feel pride in their part in the work we did and the outcomes that we achieved as a team.
I do not believe in micromanaging, but rather, empowering and supporting my staff to be the very best they can be at the job they have chosen. One of the most fundamental ways I do this is by encouraging them to understand the entire mortgage process and to understand the impact their role will have in completing the home purchase or refinance for our clients.”
The pandemic and the current market conditions have brought challenges to our industry on an unprecedented scale. Remote work is now not only common but preferred by many employees who used to commute to the office every day but have now discovered that those hours in the car or on transit have more value to them spent with their families and loved ones.
For leaders and managers, remote employees have added another layer of required creativity and communication skills with staff. My approach, and the approach of our organization, is to support remote work while at the same time, providing reasonable parameters for work-from-home employees that are designed to trust their commitment while providing management with tools to monitor productivity in a transparent and cooperative manner.
We have also encouraged activities that provide our team with a chance to enjoy themselves and blow off some steam while spending time with each other outside of their daily work. There are virtual movie nights and other fun activities that encourage personal interaction and the building of stronger relationships among the staff. This allows for remote based staff to engage with in-house staff seamlessly.
Our mission as an organization is focused on empowering our people and the clients we serve. This is very important to me. One very important aspect of getting the best from our staff is fostering and maintaining transparency and trust. When there is transparency and trust between colleagues, managers and staff, everyone feels included and valued.
Involving staff at all levels in decisions and changes or improvements we make to our processes allows for their input and gives them the confidence to speak up when they have contributions to make. There is no way to know where the next best idea may come from and when employees are invested, trusted, and feel empowered, they will never be hesitant to offer suggestions knowing they will be taken with due deference and consideration.
I have several favourite books but one I have just discovered is Alive at Work by social psychologist Daniel Cable. The book talks about how people are not inspired by repetitive tasks but rather through experimentation, exploration, and learning. Employee engagement and motivation is dependent on encouragement and support of individual interests and talents. Reading the book has reinforced my opinion on treating staff as individual and important contributors to the overall mission of the organization.
Many organizations are focused on their competitors and what they are doing. They spend a lot of time and resources on analysis of the competition and what is contributing to their success or failure.
My opinion of competition is a bit different. While I agree that being aware of your competitors is not without merit, it should only be given a minor consideration. I am of the firm belief that focusing on what your own company is doing is a far more vital to its success.
An organization that is staffed with happy, motivated and supported people is far more likely to be productive, growing, and successful than one which is worried about what the company down the street is doing. An organization with employees who are engaged and invested will reflect that to their clients and be subsequently in the word-of-mouth advertising those clients pass on to their friends and family.
As a final word, I’d like to reiterate my belief that treating staff as team members and valuable assets as opposed to warm bodies in desks doing isolated and repetitive tasks is the true key to organizational success. An organization that values its people and offers them opportunities for personal growth and creativity will be able to better serve the clients and communities they work within.
Why Choose EPM?
Foundation of EPM- Laura Brandao
EPM prides itself on providing life-long relationships and lending to support your home-buying journey. EPM’s objective is to empower the people and clients that it serves. Upfront Credit Approval
Give your offer an edge over rival proposals. Use your influence to bargain with the seller. Look at homes you know you can afford to save time.
The Core: 4CORE
The 4CORE basic philosophy is the cornerstone of EPM. The major tenets of 4CORE are “Show the Way, Struggle Well, Own Unique, and Unify Through Collaboration.” EPM is a firm believer in leaders, not bosses, and that starting at the bottom and working your way up is the most effective method to accomplish business objectives while enabling both clients and employees to pursue their aspirations. Everybody involved gains from the entire process, which has a good and significant impact on their lives and professions.
EPM is also concerned with giving the Broker Partners the best chance for success. The mission of the EPM organization and the company’s goals are to link partners, clients, and workers in ways that foster inclusivity, diversity, and community progress.
EPM’s policy of contributing 5% of each loan it closes to deserving charities is only one example of the company’s dedication to the communities it serves. This approach not only helps individuals who use the services and supports that finance offers, but it also makes clients and staff members feel good about helping those in need.
Government-Approved Direct Lender
Engage a reputable FHA Direct Endorsement Lender. Deal with the decision-maker; your loan is approved and funded. All of your inquiries are addressed thanks to our personalized approach.
Choose From Multiple Loan Products
EPM provides a variety of loan products, including Down Payment Assistance options, FHA, VA, Conventional, Jumbo, and Reverse Mortgage loans.
“EPM is committed to family, and nothing brings a family together more than their home.”