Embrace Employee Spotlight: Bryan Smith and James Wood
There’s a lot to love about Embrace Home Loans, but one of our strongest assets has always been our employees. We have teammates who have been with us for 10, 20, even 30+ years. And we’ve also been hiring new employees at a furious pace this year — new employees that many of us haven’t met yet as we continue to work remotely during the pandemic.
In this Employee Spotlight, we’ll be featuring two Embrace teammates each week — one new employee, and one employee who has already been with us for a while. Each will give different perspectives on the Embrace experience and a little more personal info so you’ll be able to get to know them better.
Want to nominate someone to feature in a future spotlight? Email Mary Mack at [email protected]
JAMES WOOD, Learning Specialist II
What is your official title and what do you do at Embrace?
Learning Specialist II — I provide educational support to current and new employees, as well as serve as a 1:1 learning resource through the use of Embrace technology.
What made you want to work at Embrace?
A good friend of mine, Ricky Budziszek, has worked at Embrace for years. While I was lamenting about my frustrations in my previous job/industry to Ricky, he suggested I look into opportunities at Embrace. I found a home in Talent Development and couldn’t be happier.
How has it been starting a new job during COVID? And just working for Embrace in general?
I was admittedly anxious about not only starting a new job, but making a total career change, in the midst of a pandemic. However, I have never been one to shy away from risks and it felt like the right move to make.
Embrace has been incredible — the warm welcome I received from everyone made the transition all the easier and I’ve felt supported by colleagues, management, and leadership along the way.
What did you do for a living before you came to Embrace?
I worked in the staffing industry from 2015 until I joined Embrace in September 2020. I helped large enterprise clients identify top SAP and Salesforce talent for implementation projects. I started off as a recruiter and then moved into a team lead role, managed the partnership between the company and Salesforce, and then joined another firm to help them build out a new SAP practice. In addition to recruiting, I also did sales/account management.
We’d love to get to know you better! Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Westport, MA, and left in 2009 to attend Northeastern University. I graduated with a B.S. in International Business with a minor in Portuguese. Before settling in Boston for work post-college, I lived in Brazil for a year, Portugal for a summer, Colombia a different summer, Los Angeles for a six-month internship at Neutrogena — and can’t wait to travel again soon! I recently moved back to the South Coast after 11 years where I split my time between my mom’s by the beach my dad’s farm in Tiverton, RI.
In my spare time, I raise chickens with my dad on his farm. I’m an avid skier (Loon Mountain is my home base), spend lots of time at the beach, and cherish time spent with friends, family, and my Saint Bernard.
BRYAN SMITH, Branch Manager – Hauppauge, NY
What is your official job title and what do you do at Embrace?
I’m the Branch Manager of Embrace’s office in Hauppauge, New York.
How long have you worked for Embrace?
I’ve been with Embrace since June 2014, so 6.5 years.
What made you want to work at Embrace?
I made the decision to come to Embrace after owning my own mortgage brokerage for 14 years. I was looking for a company to join that would give me the support to grow my own mortgage originations, and help me recruit, as I knew I wanted to continue to manage.
What’s one of your favorite Embrace memories?
One of my favorite memories is actually the experience I had when I came up to Newport to take a tour of the headquarters before I made the decision to join — and is the major factor in making the decision.
I met with Kurt Noyce, and he was a sincere, mild-mannered gentleman, and spoke to me about what his plans were for the growth of the company and how they wanted the right partner in New York who could be trusted do that.
Never once did he press me, or ask me about the volume I could bring — he just wanted the right person in the spot. I had met with quite a few lenders, but not one that made the impression that Kurt made. He may not remember, but I won’t forget. I made the right decision, and will always be grateful to Kurt.
How has it been working from home for most of this year? Has Embrace made it easier for you in any way?
Prior to the pandemic, working from home was never a thought. Going to the office, working face to face with the loan officers and processors in the Hauppauge office is the best part of my job.
The reality of what’s going on in the world has made that very difficult. Embrace has tried very hard to pull alongside us all to make our workflow easy. That’s a hard job to complete, but they come very close.
We’d love to get to know you a little better! Tell us about yourself.
I grew up, have lived my entire life, and raised my three children in the home I live in currently. I’ve been married 32 years to my wife Lisa and enjoy spending time here on Long Island.