You never know when a casual coffee chat could open the door for the next chapter of your career. In fact, a simple coffee chat is exactly what inspired Jeffanie to join, and eventually win, the most recent Business Case Competition.
The annual contest invites participants to propose an innovative idea that supports the business while enhancing the internal or external customer experiences. And the competition is stiff! Out of 44 team submissions, only six finalists earned the chance to pitch their idea to the judges.
"My mindset has always been to give all of myself to whatever I am doing but remain open to deviations from the 'original plan.' I'm energized by the thrill of the unknown and the excitement that comes with the possibilities of 'What if?' What if I just tried it? What if I did well? And if these opportunities allow me to gain transferable skills and experiences for whatever lays ahead, why not?"
The 2019 Business Case Competition, sponsored by the Rising Leaders employee resource group, asked aspiring teams to find an answer to the question: "How do we increase employee engagement at Freddie Mac?" Like the hit TV show "Shark Tank," teams of Freddie Mac employees presented their business proposals to a panel of executives from across the company. These ideas have the potential to be developed, tested and implemented at Freddie Mac. For example, a past winner was our student loan repayment benefit!
Jeffanie's team called themselves "Gen B" because they based their proposal around the Japanese philosophy of Genchi Genbutsu, which means "go and see for yourself." Their idea was to give employees the opportunity to "live a day in the life" of another team. With your manager's recommendation, you could choose to participate with a group that your team already interfaces with upstream or downstream from your current team's business process. Participants would gain real-time, application-based industry knowledge and develop stronger relationships at Freddie Mac.
Networking has been the source of much of her success at Freddie Mac, so it is not surprising that Jeffanie's idea involved cross-functional team collaboration to increase engagement. Today, she supports business architecture and resiliency in our enterprise operations division, but Jeffanie has had experience in HR, project management and business process management.
"I have kept in touch with a lot of different co-workers, and unofficial mentors, by simply having coffee with them. Any time I come into a new team I try to initiate meetings one-on-one with people just to try to get to know them better. Maybe we might work together or maybe we won't. What matters more to me is creating that relationship and keeping that network open. That's proven to be extremely helpful."
The connections she has made in her two years at Freddie Mac set the foundation for her Business Case Competition team. Once their idea was formed, it needed to be tested. The team met with a wide range of employees across the company, from associates to VPs, to get feedback. Jeffanie credits networking as an instrumental part of refining their idea and ultimately winning the competition.
"Connections that started with coffee chats became, 'let's keep in touch' and 'I can help you with this.' Especially with something like the Business Case Competition, building this network has been crucial. You could have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can't build support or get people excited about it, none of that matters in the end."
At Freddie Mac, our mission is to make home possible. That mission is something that Jeffanie holds dear to her heart.
"Your shelter is where you rest your head at night—it's a building... but home is where you spend your time and feel welcome. The relationships I have here make Freddie Mac more like a home—not just a building where I spend my 9-5. When people say, 'We will treat you like family here,' do they really mean it? And Freddie Mac does."
Jeffanie never imagined that such a large company would provide her the opportunity to think holistically. But she has found that the strong support network at Freddie Mac makes it easy to connect with people across divisions.
"Freddie Mac is a big world because there are so many opportunities, but everyone knows everybody, so it also feels intimate. The people here really push you to experience growth in your career, they advocate for you and they provide you the opportunities to move up and around within the company."
Are you ready to "go and see for yourself" how Freddie Mac offers more? Check out open positions and learn more about careers at Freddie Mac at FreddieMac.jobs.