When was the last time you really thought about your impact on people? Not customers. Not end users. Real people.
Sometimes, we can be so focused on our productivity and performance that we forget just how much we affect others, whether it be our colleagues or the people we serve.
But when you remember – and reinforce – the human element in your work, you may find yourself naturally doing better and going further in your career.
This was the case for Bhavna Patel, leader of Liberty Financial’s underwriting team, who made people the cornerstone of her work and approach to life.
By focusing on the well-being of the people she works with and the people she serves, Bhavna was able to humanize financial lending and mortgaging in a way that set Liberty Financial apart from other lenders.
We asked Bhavna to share how she brings out the human element in her role and what others can learn from it. Here’s what she shared.
The people you serve
Financial lending and mortgages may not be the first career to come to mind when you think of human impact. But its effect on people’s lives is undeniable once you realize just how life-changing the right (or wrong) loan can be.
And this impact is something that Bhavna and her team always keep in mind.
“There’s a big human element to our roles because there is a person at the end of everything we do. It’s someone’s mother or father or sister or brother. We really foster that value and ensure everyone is aware of that.”
Realizing there’s a real person at the end of every transaction or loan application makes it easier to understand the value of their work and do everything they can to achieve the best outcome.
“Just this week, we were able to provide finance and settle within a week for a single parent that had put their life savings into a deposit for an off-the-plan apartment where the main banks weren’t able to assist. It’s working with the team on solutions like this that makes the role so worth it.”
Of course, it helps to have a natural curiosity in people – much like Bhavna – knowing there’s more to a person than what they appear or show. Bhavna reminds us:
“People are fascinating. There is so much depth to a person than what you see, and more often than not, they will always surprise you.”
The people you work with
Beyond the people whose lives her work affects, Bhavna is committed to recognizing and promoting the personhood of every person she works with, especially of those in her team.
This dedication to seeing a person for who they are and celebrating them has shaped the way she fulfills her role and how she leads her team. And it all starts with recognizing each person’s individuality.
“I aim to nurture growth within the team by understanding each person’s motivations and personalities to progress professionally and create future opportunities for them.”
This comes easily to Bhavna, given her natural interest in people and her desire to help them.
“I have a real care for people and enjoy supporting others and listening to people. I try to understand others’ perspectives often.”
And when it comes to her team, their success is her success.
“I really enjoy finding niches in the team and looking at their personalities and motivations to see what drives their purpose and then looking for ways to develop them to meet their future goals. I love empowering the team to be confident in their own decision-making and problem-solving skills so they can grow and easily make decisions with little reliance on their leader.”
Bhavna’s care and genuine interest in others are obvious, and it was showcased when we asked her what a perfect day at work would look like. She answered:
“Seeing my team lean on each other when working in the office, with everyone celebrating the wins of their colleagues. And when I see people back themselves and be pleased with their own decisions.”
Bhavna herself experienced the benefits of being truly seen, heard, and appreciated. She credits Liberty Financial with creating a workplace where everyone can feel safe to express themselves. She recalls a moment when she knew the company was genuine in its care and respect for its employees.
“It was how change was handled as the team grew and expanded. There was very transparent communication all the time. Everyone was treated the same regardless of their role, and your voice was valued. You were very much a welcome person at the table.”
Liberty Financial has been a stellar advocate for equality, diversity, and inclusion in the industry, providing generous paid parental leave, flexible working arrangements, and their women in leadership program.
The person you are
It’s easy to only think of others when you’re focusing on finding the human element in your work. But don’t forget yourself. What about you?
Are you growing in the direction you want? Are you learning new things? Are you happy?
These are the types of questions we don’t ask ourselves often enough. As Bhavna learned the hard way when she first became team leader, if we don’t care for and help ourselves, then we can’t be truly effective at helping others.
“My biggest obstacle so far was myself – my internal saboteur, me being my harshest critic, and the expectations I’ve put on myself and not looking at the progress I’ve made.
“I struggled with imposter syndrome when I first started in leadership, failing to back myself and build the confidence that I belonged.”
But Bhavna was able to overcome that through the encouragement and support of her colleagues and senior management.
“I have had amazing support from leaders in the company over the last eight years to really hone in on reaching my next steps. I have had many opportunities align with my career path, and I have felt supported and seen whilst at Liberty Financial.”
When we asked her what she thinks would surprise people the most about her role, she simply said:
“Just how much I feel supported and seen.”
And that’s exactly how she wants everyone else to feel.