With beginnings in food services and a career sparked by ingenuity and need, Anie Akpe-Lewis is not your average banking executive-turned-entrepreneur. Founder, CEO and publisher of Innov8tiv.com, an online tech hub highlighting advances among global STEM innovators of color, and IBOM L.L.C., a business development consultancy, she brings diverse experience to her current endeavors: from juggling management duties at Red Lobster; to hosting interactive networking events; to transitioning into the world of mortgage banking, managing a $575 million portfolio as a vice president.
BlackEnterprise.com talked with Akpe-Lewis on how her diverse career background has served to lead her into tremendous success, and how you can leverage your professional experiences to do the same.
You were a professional in the food services industry and decided to get into banking. Talk about that journey, why you were prompted to do so, and what it took to transition.
Before entering the banking industry, I was a customer service manager at Red Lobster. It was during this time that I decided that I wanted to own a home. Once I found the home, I went to a mortgage professional to qualify for it. Once qualified, I realized very quickly that the lending officer didnâ€™t know the product well.
It was during the back and forth of sharing information that I realized I could do her job much better than her. In addition, the restaurant hours were very grueling, and it completely took over my personal life. I knew I needed a career change, so when I took the time to help process and close my own loan, I knew I could easily work in the mortgage industry.
I didnâ€™t have experience, so I took a job as a mortgage loan originator (a commission-based position), and I taught myself everything I needed to know about submitting a loan. In addition to get new clients, I networked at every home-buying expo, and at the end of my first full year of originating mortgage loans, I made as much income being a mortgage loan originator as I did being a manager at Red Lobster.
You are also a business development and tech entrepreneur—two ventures totally unrelated to what you do in the mortgage industry. Why launch your own properties, and why these industries?
Technology is in every aspect of our lives and fortunate for me, our CEO believes in empowering the officers of the company with the ability to search out the best method of operating efficiently. My solution and best method was utilizing technology to create the outcome I needed. When I started within my current position, they didnâ€™t use systems we currently use now.
The first year we launched a consumer site to take mortgage applications, we closed $40 million more in mortgage loans that year and every year thereafter.