News & Events

Executive profile Marilyn Richardson

Company: San Ramon-based Mason-McDuffie employs 250 people and completed more than $430 million in loans in the first nine months of this year.

Background: Richardson became Mason-McDuffie Mortgage Corp.’s first female partner in 1979. The firm was sold in 1982 to Weyerhaeuser Mortgage Co. and was later re-founded in 2005 by Richardson and other partners. Richardson began her career as a receptionist for a different mortgage company, where she learned the operational side of the business. She went on to work for several mortgage firms, including RBC Mortgage, Zino Mortgage Group, Countrywide Home Loans, Union Security Mortgage and ITT Financial.

First job: I started working part time after school when I was 14 years old in a nursing home in Orange County. Education: Associate’s degree from Diablo Valley College.

Residence: San Ramon.

Business philosophy Guiding principle: Integrity. You have to always put the customer first and the fact that some companies didn’t do that is the reason our industry is the way it is right now. It’s not just doing a loan to do a loan, but doing a loan truthfully and honestly.

Yardstick of success: All the people I’ve been able to help and give a career to. Goal yet to be achieved: We definitely want to continue to grow and bring more of the younger people into the company.

Judgment calls Best business decision: I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to be a partner in the original Mason-McDuffie. It was hard for me financially. … It opened my eyes to ownership over what you were doing. It was a stretch. It was pretty scary. Worst business decision: We took on a branch too early without enough due diligence. In the pit of my stomach I knew it wasn’t the right branch for us. It doubled our volume, but eventually it didn’t work for us, so we had to cut them off — it took 90 days.

Toughest business decision: Staying resolute and not growing. We’ve turned down a lot of opportunities. Those are always tough calls because you have a lot of people who come after us to be part of our company, but you have to feel sure they fit your vision. We’re not willing to give up long-term success for short-term profits. That’s served us well and helped us survive when our competitors didn’t.

Biggest missed opportunity: I had the opportunity to buy a lot more real estate in the ’80s that I passed on. Mentor: Don Tedsen. He was a senior partner with the original Mason-McDuffie, and none of the other partners wanted a female partner. He refused to vote anyone in until they voted to bring me in, so for two years they didn’t bring any partners in. He really believed in me and he put himself out there for me. True confessions Like best about job: Working day to day with the young people we have on our staff. They are amazing.

Like least about job: Because of the volatility in our industry, it’s sometimes tough to do what we think is best for our customers and the new regulations.

Pet peeve: When politicians and policy people don’t get all the facts about a problem and make decisions that don’t help. Most important lesson learned: Anything is possible. When I first started, I never dreamed with my background or education that I would be the president of a company.

Most respected competitor: Bank of America Mortgage. We do a lot of business with them. First choice for a new career: Working with the elderly or at a hotline for rape victims.

Predilections Favorite quote: “It is what it is. You need to accept it to move forward.” — Anonymous. Most influential book: “A Course in Miracles” by the Foundation for Inner Peace.

Favorite cause: Preventing child abuse.

Favorite status symbol: To be someone like Mother Teresa, she’s my hero. To be able to achieve that station in life where you are fulfilled with what you have, you’re not out there pushing to get it and you can enjoy every day

Favorite movie: “The Sound of Music.” Favorite restaurant: Faz in Danville.

Favorite vacation spot: Wherever my grandchildren are.

What do you drive: VW Routan minivan. My favorite car is a Lexus. That’s what I would be driving if I didn’t have to pick up my grandchildren.