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Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With Berkadia Head Of Mortgage Banking Hilary Provinse

This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles. 

Hilary Provinse, who joined Berkadia as executive vice president and head of mortgage banking in January, has over 20 years of experience in financing and lending, including over 10 years at Fannie Mae.

Berkadia Executive Vice President and Head of Mortgage Banking Hilary Provinse with her daughters Julia Rose and Serena

Provinse oversees a team of 130 mortgage bankers across 31 U.S. offices and is a member of Berkadia’s Management Committee. When she was at Fannie Mae, she managed customer relationships and led multifamily activities, including the Delegated Underwriting and Servicing lending platform, structured transactions, senior housing, affordable housing, small loans and borrower relationships. During her tenure at Fannie Mae, she and her team helped close $55.3B in multifamily loans in 2016.

Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry? 

Provinse: I tell my mom that my job is to manage a team of professionals who help people with big buildings get mortgages on those properties — the same way she has a mortgage on her house. 

Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?

Provinse: Be a Broadway star, but I can’t sing or dance so that dream was challenging.

Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?

Provinse: Fruit cutter at the “Fruit Bowl” on the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach during the summer of ’88. Not the highlight of my career, but I’m good in the kitchen with a pineapple or mango.

Bisnow: What was your first big deal?

Provinse: My first big real estate deal was a $1B loan pool acquisition from Washington Mutual in the early 2000s. In those days that was a lot of money.

Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?

Provinse: I can’t think my biggest failure would be a particular deal. It would probably be giving up on a few people early on in my career before I should have. I’ve learned to be a much better manager with experience and practice.

Bisnow: How do you define “making it”?

Provinse: Loving what I do and more importantly who I’m doing it with.

Berkadia Executive Vice President and Head of Mortgage Banking Hilary Provinse

Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Provinse: People who don’t listen.

Bisnow: Who is your greatest mentor?

Provinse: My dad, Bob Branson, has always been a role model and mentor for me. He ran real estate private equity funds for years and taught me two major lessons: one, always do the right thing; and two, never burn a bridge. I’ve tried to live by these principles.

Bisnow: What is the best and worst professional advice you've ever gotten?

Provinse: The best advice I’ve gotten is, never, ever forget there are people behind all the numbers we look at. People’s live and hopes and dreams. On a practical level, the best advice was, look at your ‘to do’ list every morning and ask yourself what someone else should be doing. This has helped keep me better focused on managing and not doing. The worst advice was: If you want it done right (or your way), do it yourself.

Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?

Provinse: A weekly manicure/pedicure.

Bisnow: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

Provinse: Grottos Pizza in Rehoboth Beach — ideally delivered to the back porch of our house in Delaware to eat with the family.

Bisnow: If you could sit down with President Donald Trump, what would you say?

Provinse: I’m not sure how willing he’d be to take a meeting with a Hilary.

Then-Fannie Mae Senior Vice President Hilary Provinse at Bisnow's 2015 Mid-Year Multifamily Surge in Washington, D.C.

Bisnow: What's the biggest risk you have ever taken?

Provinse: Quitting my job as a bond trader at Goldman Sachs after 9/11 to move back to D.C.

Bisnow: Whose work do you most admire?

Provinse: It may sound trite, but Mother Teresa. She had such a deep and compassionate way of seeing the world and she saw the dignity and worth in every human being.

Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?

Provinse: My 7-year-old daughter who sneaks into our bed every night. But really on the CRE side — what can we be doing better to get more diverse talent into this business? It is such an awesome industry and when I look around the room, particularly at finance events, I’m one of [the] few women or minorities. This has to change.

Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?

Provinse: Time with my family: my 7 and 9-year-old daughters and my husband. Be it at the beach, traveling or helping others … that’s my happy place.