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Leadership Corner: Steve W., Senior EVP, Chief People Officer

With more than 30 years of Human Resources experience (half of it in the financial services industry), Steve W. joined Freedom Mortgage over 18 months ago as our Chief People Officer. Originally from Stroudsburg, PA (in the Poconos) he grew up in a blue-collar family and was the first to go to college, which was a proud moment for him and his parents.

He currently resides in suburban Philadelphia where he and his wife contribute to a variety of charitable organizations. Many of their efforts focus on child advocacy or helping children in some way, like a youth basketball league in Wilmington, Delaware. Steve has three kids: one son who attends Colorado State University (CSU), another son who is a senior in high school (about to attend CSU), and a daughter who is a freshman in high school.

Steve is an outdoorsman by nature. He spends his spare time mountain biking, cycling, hiking and rock climbing. “I have climbed Mount Rainier and the Matterhorn in Switzerland,” he told us. “On Rainier, it’s a 12-hour first day. My philosophy is that if you are on time, you are late, so we arrived to meet our guide early for breakfast. There were eight of us climbing the mountain, but only four made it early while others straggled in. Our guide told us, ‘I can tell you which four are going to make it to the summit.’ They felt the four that were late to breakfast would not make it. Every step in the process is important and contributes to your getting to the top of a mountain and back down safely. Something as simple as being on time for breakfast matters, even when you are climbing mountains.” (By the way, those four people who showed up early to breakfast were the only people who made it to the summit!)

This outdoor philosophy about preparation has carried into his work life to keep the right perspective on achieving big things. According to Steve, “Like rock climbing, you should think three feet in front of you, not the next 500.  The same applies to your career: Be excellent three feet at a time. An accumulation of good performance helps you achieve those really big goals.”

Performance as well as reflecting on it is important. Steve offers the following insight on performance reviews:

“While I do believe the formal annual process to review performance is valuable, looking at how you are doing in your role is something that should occur more frequently. Each time we pause to look at performance, it gives everyone an opportunity to take inventory. That’s from a self-assessment perspective: Where am I at? How am I doing? What do I want from this job and my career? You have to manage your own career. It’s not the company’s or your manager’s responsibility alone. It’s a shared responsibility to manage your career.”

And as a manger, it is your chance to reflect on how your team is doing, how you are showing up as a leader and aligning that reflection with the business’ goals.”

FUN FACTS: Colorado is his favorite place to visit. Steve loves live concerts. His favorite band is Phish. He was also a Grateful Deadhead back in the day!

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