Women On The Move: 4 CRE Finance Execs On How They Reached The Top And What's On The Horizon

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'There Needs To Be A Paradigm Shift': Alison Ramsey, Executive Director Of Multifamily Lending

'There Needs To Be A Paradigm Shift': Alison Ramsey, Executive Director Of Multifamily Lending

For over 15 years, Alison Ramsey has provided financing for multifamily properties in Southern California. Ramsey's team of originators, which is made up entirely of women, is consistently one of the most productive nationwide, and Ramsey has won numerous awards.

Ramsey is deeply involved in various apartment associations and the NAIOP SoCal chapter, where she serves on the board. A graduate of Pepperdine University, Alison lived in Los Angeles for 10 years before settling in Orange County, where she currently resides with her husband and daughter.

What does it take to be a successful woman in our industry?

Moxie. A client early on in my career assigned me this old-fashioned but absolutely wonderful descriptor. In this business, women have to be tenacious, have the stamina required to make it over the long haul and then back all of that up with expertise.

What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

The seeds you plant today will be the fruits you enjoy tomorrow. It's still a good reminder: Never stop planting. Never stop working hard. Never stop learning. Never stop evolving. Never stop networking. Never stop growing your client base. Never stop raising your hand.

How would you define resiliency?

The ability to adapt to change. When the Great Recession hit, I had the opportunity to work in REO. Some of my colleagues looked at a reassignment as a step back from sales. I looked at it as an opportunity and it ended up springboarding my career.

Another big adjustment I faced recently is becoming a working mom. When my daughter was born three years ago, my priorities changed. I'm fortunate enough to work at a bank that gives me the flexibility to be an engaged mom and wife while still meeting my career goals and growing professionally.  

What is one way you advocate for yourself and other women at work?

My sales team is all female because I believe in the awesomeness of women. My extended team is also all female, including my sales manager, my treasury services manager and the credit manager who oversees my largest relationships. I support them 100% and I encourage the women I work with to embrace being different in a sea of predominantly male real estate professionals. Being different makes you special.

What do you see as the most important next step for our industry to take to build on current progress in diversity and inclusion?

We need to be actively seeking out candidates that represent the diversity of this great country. Fortunately, executives are increasingly interested in what women have to say and are taking meaningful steps to have a more inclusive work environment. 

Unfortunately, I think when faced with equal candidates of opposite gender, many of my industry peers default to choosing a male to fill the position, particularly in executive and sales roles. There needs to be a paradigm shift where being a woman is seen as being an asset.

What do you think is the best way to ensure men and leadership are meaningfully engaged in conversations about gender equity?

Acknowledging the importance of gender equality is the first step. I believe in keeping an open dialogue. I don't shy away from being open and honest. It can be difficult for men to understand the female experience if they aren’t seeking that insight.

What about the environment at JPMorgan Chase do you feel sets it apart from other places you've worked?

We have a great sales culture here. Leadership offers us wonderful support and guidance, but also allows us enough freedom to feel like we have real ownership of our business. In order to be professionally and personally fulfilled, you need an employer who is supportive of the whole person.

Chase has been there for me through many stages of my life and I feel really blessed to work here. My goal is to pay that forward. My associate is on maternity leave right now with twins and I know that when she comes back to work, she'll need support from me as well.

What deal or deals are you most proud of from your time at Chase? 

Early in my career, I cold-called an owner who pawned me off to his son. His son had just started working for his father's business and needed to be educated and walked through the entire loan process. They have over $50M with us now. I've also financed loans for their family and consider that son a friend. It's a relationship and not just a business transaction. I love to be seen as a trusted adviser. I love to make a difference.