December 2020 Leadership Message

If you attended the VLTA Convention in 2019, you may remember Megan describing in her acceptance speech the state of our industry—how there is a “silver tsunami” of title professionals that will leave a gaping hole in our industry once they leave. This problem led Megan to champion the idea of the VLTA Workforce Development Taskforce, whose mission is to develop a viable career path into our industry. Over the last 12 months, with Megan’s leadership and the help of many volunteers, this vision is developing into a reality. But we still have a long way to go, and Megan will continue to champion this idea as Past President.  

As the current President, it is my privilege to champion another idea that is near and dear to my heart, something that walks hand-in-hand with Megan’s vision. My question to you is this: once we build the career path to lead people from the outside world into our industry, what do we have in place that will keep them here? What will make a green title professional into a seasoned veteran like many of you? The answer that I would like to suggest to you is “mentorship”.

Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. It is a learning and development partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn.  

Many of us have had some sort of mentor to help us along our career path. Maybe it was the boss who hired you or a more seasoned colleague at work showing you the ropes. I would describe these as casual, ad hoc mentorships. Whatever you want to call it, one thing is for sure—it works. The guidance of those more experienced helps us to do a better job without learning everything “the hard way.”

During my career, I have been very fortunate to have had the benefit of learning from many experienced mentors in the areas of business, as a title agent, and as a title examiner. By sharing their time and their experience, they have contributed to the professional that I am today. I am grateful to all of them for sharing their knowledge with me. This knowledge and experience enabled me to achieve the goal of owning my own business in the title industry.

Let us go beyond these casual mentorships. We need to consider the more structured mentorships, like internships or formal apprenticeships, where there is a more focused and dynamic exchange of experience between mentor and mentee. If the casual, ad hoc mentorships work, think how much our industry would benefit from more structured mentorship relationships. Not only would such opportunities for training attract fresh blood to our industry, but it would keep them here by helping them to grow.

Obviously, this is not a one-person job, and such a fundamental, positive change to our industry cannot happen overnight. It is going to take all of us doing a part, no matter how big or how small. Perhaps some of you reading this right now can serve as a mentor to a new young face to our industry. Perhaps others of you can be a “mentor to mentors,” providing training on how to effectively mentor others. And perhaps still others of you could be part of a VLTA Mentorship Taskforce Committee to generate even more ideas on how mentoring can be fostered in our industry. I do not have all the answers, but I do know that working together we can make a difference, and I can promise you that I will remain committed to this idea. 

As we navigate the year ahead, I want you to know that the VLTA Board of Directors is ready and prepared to meet the challenges. Working with this new Board, I promise to do my very best, as I serve as your new President.

  Julie Rutledge
  VLTA President