Valerie White – CUP Member Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
I am a Managing Director and lead a team that performs credit analysis on affordable housing and municipal structured credits. I came to this field of work not necessarily in the most traditional fashion. Through networking, hard work, capitalizing on opportunities and the desire to learn I have had the opportunity to move into this position at my firm and advance over the last 15 years.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?
The biggest yet most rewarding challenge is to continue to develop the leadership and technical skills of all the members of my team. I believe managers have a responsibility to their team members to ensure that employees grow under their leadership. Although skill levels and growth potential are diverse in any one team, managers must be able to identify the potential of all and capitalize on that potential for the good of the individual and for the team.

What is your proudest achievement?
I have been blessed to experience many achievements and gain many awards and recognitions over my career. I think my most proudest career achievements have come when making key note addresses in international forums dedicated to the furtherance of affordable housing for impacted individuals—including an address made at The World Bank to an audience of emerging market investors and participants from the continent of Africa and another at the Annual Affordable Housing Conference in Brisbane, Australia. Different ends of the world facing the same issues in housing the impacted members of their communities.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
Generally, I admire courageous and innovative thinkers that take their knowledge, experiences and abilities and put them to use in bettering their communities. We see this in all industries from financial, legal, media, marketing, politics. There are so many great role models, people of color and women, who have made great strides and impacts and have paved the way for others to do the same.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In ten years, I am likely to be traveling the world--when I am not actively performing community service for non-profit organizations dedicated the development of minority youth in secondary educational development and/or young business professional development.

Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else? How has that experience changed you?
I am an avid believer in mentoring relationships. I regularly participate in many organized mentoring programs including those at my alma mater, community based organizations and at my work place. I have also benefitted from wonderful mentors—both formal and informal relationships. These experiences have broaden my vision and understanding of people. I have learned just as much from my mentees as I have from my mentors. I also have been blessed by creating many long lasting relationships.

What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?
Always conduct yourself with character, integrity, discipline and grace. Be genuine and caring. Regardless of the career one seeks, honesty and integrity are easily recognized and extremely appreciate. Strong work ethic and discipline builds lasting skills that will ultimately always lead to success.