Marguerite Moyet is the Senior Vice President and Senior Banker at KeyBank Real Estate Capital. Ms. Moyet worked her way up from being a teller in 1992, serving later as an accountant, an analyst, and a credit underwriter. Based in the Seattle area, she’s also a Relationship Manager with KeyBank’s Income Property Group. With 25 years of experience with the company, she currently manages a $200-300 million portfolio of loans and originates $300-500 million in loans annually.
Ms. Moyet graciously agreed to a 30-minute telephone interview in May 2017. This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.
[OnlineEducation.com] Let’s start by talking about how you got into your career, how you joined KeyBank, and more generally, your education and experience.
[Ms. Moyet] Sure. So KeyBank was my first professional job out of college. When I was in school, I paid my own way tending bar and waiting tables. I knew I could multitask, but I had no transferable business experience. I knew that once I started someplace, I could do anything that anybody asked me to do. So I took the lowest job in the bank that you could get and became a teller for about six months. I thought that just by getting in I could talk to a whole bunch of people in the organization and then figure out my next step.
I started at KeyBank in 1992. It had merged with Puget Sound Bank—another pretty big, local bank that had huge market share. In fact, KeyBank wasn’t really prepared for acquiring a bank that big. I think that we were very close to getting a cease and desist if we didn’t clean up the books!
During all of this, there were a lot of accounting jobs open; I took one of those for a year, establishing policies and procedures on how to reconcile all of the various accounts. I enjoyed that part of the job because I love solving problems. But then that was over, so I got a job as a credit analyst, analyzing financial statements and providing loans for businesses. At that time, the bank also had a tuition reimbursement program, where you could get your MBA. KeyBank would pay for it one hundred percent.
[OnlineEducation.com] Oh wow. There aren’t as many of those opportunities these days.
[Ms. Moyet] Yeah, I took advantage of that while I was a credit underwriter. And I really loved just working with financial statements, trying to make sense out of those and reconciling that knowledge with the clients’ financial needs.
Then, I wanted to move to the sales side to work one-on-one with clients. I wanted to be on the front lines, so I eventually moved into residential home builder finance, securing a position between being strictly an underwriter and working directly with clients.
Today I’m 100 percent on the front line working with clients, recommending loans to our credit and senior management teams. I love what I do. When I was doing my undergraduate work, there was this one class I enjoyed called Case Studies; you took a company with financial issues and you had to write a plan of how to basically fix that company. If the plan was to liquidate that company, you did that. That’s sort of what I get to do here.
[OnlineEducation.com] Was your undergraduate degree in business or were you on the accounting side?
[Ms. Moyet] Yes. I got a B.A. in business administration with a concentration in finance.
[OnlineEducation.com] Throughout your career, did you learn most of your skills on the job or did you pursue additional certifications?
[Ms. Moyet] Everything I learned I pretty much got on the job. After you start working with loans and people, the whole goal is to get your money back with a profit. And at the same time, you have to sell to the client and to the senior management team. You have to make sure that whatever you sell you’re able to deliver. At the end of the day, you never want to not get repaid on your loan.
[OnlineEducation.com] That’s understandable.
[Ms. Moyet] I don’t think that there is any class that could ever teach you that. You just have to go through the cycle and figure it out. I am paid for my decisions and if I make good decisions, then the bank rewards me; bad decisions—meaning they don’t get their money back—that wouldn’t be so good.
[OnlineEducation.com] What’s your favorite part of your job now that you’re working directly with clients as opposed to serving on the accounting or underwriting side?
[Ms. Moyet] I have a group of fantastic clients. Of course, the bank always wants me to get out and get new ones, but I have limits! That’s the beautiful part when you’re in sales; as long as you’re making your goals and if you’re exceeding them, then you can craft your future or your own job description. As long as you’re making money for them, you have a lot of freedom.
Obviously, the clients have to have money. They’re asking for money, but they also have to have money. They have to be honorable and treat us well. I’ve worked with some clients who have the money and the life experience, but they’ll lie or misrepresent, and then they’ll be mean on top of it! And life is just too short.
[OnlineEducation.com] I suppose that’s one of the opportunities you get being an executive: you can make the decisions and build the culture from the ground up.
[Ms. Moyet] Correct, correct.
[OnlineEducation.com] Moving into the demographics of your industry, are there many female executives? And do you work predominantly with men, or would you say it’s a more equitable gender distribution?
[Ms. Moyet] Here on the west coast, I think there are more women at my same level, but we’re a national bank. Throughout the country, I think there are only three women out of 35 people in the role.
[OnlineEducation.com] Wow. That’s quite a discrepancy.
[Ms. Moyet] That was a little bit shocking to me, especially since much of the time I’ve had female managers and I’d never thought that it was restrictive.
I should note that our chairman is a woman and the head of our line of business is also a woman. I’ve seen women in leadership positions, particularly out here on the west coast. I don’t really see any barriers. I know there are regional differences, but there’s a bit of a bubble here.
The other part is how do clients receive me? If I’m not getting my quota, then they’re not going to keep me in my job. I have actually found that a lot of clients prefer working with women. They prefer working with women because they find women are harder working than men.
[OnlineEducation.com] Really? Harder working generally? Perhaps less bluster?
[Ms. Moyet] Clients feel that they can talk to me more easily. They’ll say, ‘I feel like in a way you’re my attorney. I’ll tell you the whole truth, and then you figure out how you want to spin it.’
[OnlineEducation.com] Interesting. Do you think that’s because women are seen as inherently more trustworthy? What do you think they see in you that perhaps that they wouldn’t see in a man?
[Ms. Moyet] I’ve worked with women and men. And I think the majority of the women completely drive themselves and push themselves. Frequently for men, I think they set a lower bar.
[OnlineEducation.com] Perhaps they’re accustomed to having an easier advancement rather than needing to work twice as hard to be in the same position, as the saying goes.
[Ms. Moyet] Right, right. It’s very public here—either you’re meeting your goals or you’re not. I’m frequently ahead of my male counterpart in the office. Right now I’m in the number two position in our west coast region for sales. And there isn’t a way that you can talk yourself up on that ranking system, right? It measures how well you’re managing your clients and how much income you’re producing for the bank.
[OnlineEducation.com] It seems easier to quantify your success compared to other types of jobs.
[Ms. Moyet] Right and I think that’s true especially for sales. Once they put the commission chart up there, no matter who gets there, they get paid what they told you they would pay you…or they’ll get sued.
[OnlineEducation.com] Definitely, you can’t fudge that.
[Ms. Moyet] It’s very transparent. The results are are clear and visible; if I’m successful at my job, then I’m not at a disadvantage because I’m female. I guess where there could be discrimination is how they decide to allocate clients. For the most part, I built up my own client base, but if somebody leaves, there are those house accounts. I have seen how those house accounts sometimes don’t get distributed fairly.
[OnlineEducation.com] Interesting. So you think men might be privileged for the distribution of those accounts, maybe not specifically on the west coast, but on a national level?
[Ms. Moyet] If there is any preference, that’s where the preference would be. I’ve just been here forever so I’ve just built up my clients; I’ve never gotten any house accounts because I built up my account base. My counterpart’s situation was a little bit different. He walked in and just picked up a lot of house accounts.
[OnlineEducation.com] In general, the west coast sounds like a more fertile culture for women to enter the business and I really like what you’ve said about your own opportunities for advancement. Why do you think women are underrepresented in finance—especially in leadership positions such as yours—across the country?
[Ms. Moyet] I don’t know about finance overall and in banking, there shouldn’t be any reason why they cannot move up, but they have to find mentors. That’s how I was able to move up. I just started talking with people in the company, taking regular coffee dates, and then they’d hear about opportunities and be there to recommend me. So everybody needs to have people who support them in an organization. Maybe men have been trained in the past to do it better. I think it’s just important to find your supporters in the organization and don’t let them guess; tell them what you want to do.
[OnlineEducation.com] Do you think that it’s been more difficult for women to find mentors?
[Ms. Moyet] Well, I will help anybody who comes and asks me for advice. When somebody’s asking me to be their mentor, that’s usually because they’re going to give me something in return. I’ve seen the greedy ones and I can’t wait until they’re gone because they’re big time-sucks!
I’ve had upper-level male mentors. I just had to tell them where I wanted to go and how I thought that they could help me get there.
[OnlineEducation.com] In addition to seeking out mentors in business, do you have any other advice that you would give to women who are aspiring to reach your career success?
[Ms. Moyet] Just try to get to know people in the industry. Go to community meetings and events where there are interesting speakers. It makes it easier when you talk to somebody else in real estate when you can reference an experience. If you want to move up in real estate, it’s good to learn the jargon.
[OnlineEducation.com] Another interviewee mentioned one of the challenges for her had been this cultural capital disjunction, where the men would be talking about sports or going out golfing and she wasn’t crazy about that sport. Can you tell me any other examples of how being a woman might be challenging in your role?
[Ms. Moyet] Okay, I’m horrible golfer…Most of the time they just laugh. You have to know golf etiquette, so when you’re out there and somebody’s try to tee off, you’re not talking to them. That would not be smart.
I took a couple of golf lessons because if your client invites you, you kind of need to show up. I know nothing about sports. Horrible. But as a salesperson, I need to entertain people, so I try to pick things that I actually like. For example, going to concerts. There are a lot of concerts here. Many clients are my age, so I take them out to concerts and they love it.
[OnlineEducation.com] Sounds more fun than golf.
[Ms. Moyet] Or other shows—something you can sit back and watch. And on the few occasions where I get sports tickets from the bank, I just give those to clients who like sports. I don’t really know that much about it, but there’s more to life than just sports.
[OnlineEducation.com] I like that approach, finding alternatives everyone can agree on. I think there are a lot of men who don’t like golf, too.
[Ms. Moyet] I know nothing…I know nothing…