Executive Development Blog

Empowering a Mindset for Growth

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 26, 2017 1:54:18 PM


UNC Executive Development is dedicated to building long-term partnerships with our clients, and we work collaboratively with our clients to develop and deliver customized leadership development programs that meet organizational objectives and drive long-term change. The solution can take many forms and will depend primarily on the organization’s objectives, the target population profile, the timeline, the budget, and other variables that are client-specific.

In 2008, a worldwide recession threw the global economy into a tailspin. The housing industry, and notably a housing bubble built on a mountain of risky mortgages, played a major role. Nevertheless, while the great recession led to the genpic.jpgcollapse of some financial companies and others hanging onto government bailouts for dear life, one mortgage insurance company weathered the storm without stumbling. Genworth Mortgage Insurance Corporation (Genworth MI), a subsidiary of Genworth Financial, Inc., navigated the tumultuous recession years by making decisions and managing risks with great care.

“Through the housing market crash, private mortgage insurers were under immense stress,” explains John Collison, Global Director of Talent Development for Genworth’s Mortgage Insurance (MI) business. “The penalty for being wrong on a decision might have been existential. The focus at that point was on keeping the doors open and making smart decisions.”

By 2015, however, four years following the end of the recession, the housing market was once again experiencing solid growth, but Genworth MI was not taking full advantage of that growth. The reason, Collison says, was that the organization was still operating with the cautious, low-risk mindset that had been so valuable during the downturn. That same mindset was now holding them back.

“We survived in large part because we were making really high-quality decisions, and we learned that making those high-quality decisions is the way to survive,” Collison says. “All of that works quite well when you’re under duress, when safety is the primary issue; however, when you are transitioning to a market in which there is significant growth opportunity, agility becomes much more valuable.”

“Since 2008, when the housing market crashed, they had survived and done well by being fantastic risk mitigators,” concurs Anthony Laffoley, a Program Director in Executive Education at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School. Unfortunately, the company did not adapt quickly to the post-recession environment and, Laffoley says, “was leaving some growth opportunities on the table because of their risk management orientation.”

Click below to read the entire case study titled Empowering a Mindset for Growth on how UNC Kenan-Flagler helped Genworth MI build an entrepreneurial culture.

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