In Qualia’s Women in Leadership Series, we are speaking with inspiring female leaders who are using their deep industry knowledge and unique leadership styles to fearlessly drive the title & escrow industry forward. To read part 2 of the series, click here.
What’s better than a strong female leader? Two strong female leaders. Alberta Party Bland (known as Party), Partner and Managing Director of Flagship Title in Tampa, Florida, brought her daughter, Kristin, full time into her title business during the 2008 recession. The duo made a great team during a turbulent time, and Party eventually made her daughter a partner.
We recently connected with Party over the phone to discuss her joint leadership approach and how she believes the title industry will transform in the years ahead.
Qualia: Can you tell me a bit about your career path within the title industry? How did you begin your career?
Party: I actually got into real estate with a partner who had some real estate investing experience rehabbing properties to resell them. In the first year that we partnered, we completed 30 investments. This was during the refinance boom in 2002. Pretty soon, we realized we could do our own title work. The next thing you know, I was opening a title company with partners and the rest is history.
When we went through the 2008 recession, my daughter, who has a master’s degree in business, wanted to join me. I ended up bringing her on as a partner. When I retire, she’ll be able to take over. I’m teaching her how to run a business, so I can hand Flagship Title over to her sometime in the future.
Qualia: What do you and your daughter bring to the table as a pair of female leaders that you think is unique?
Party: I think that the most unique thing about us is that we are mother and daughter. We’re able to stand together and really offer a great service. I think a lot of people in our position don’t make it because they can’t get along. Balancing a mother-daughter relationship plus a working relationship can be a challenge, but people are able to see that we are cohesive. They are attracted to that.
As a title company, we all offer the same thing, right? We all have title insurance. We’re all selling the same product. The only thing that makes us different is us as people. How do we create those relationships that hold us solid over the years? That is what this has to be about.
Qualia: Can you touch on that mother-daughter relationship a bit more? How does that ultimately impact the business?
Party: My daughter Kristin is amazing. She knows title better than I do at this point. I’ve taught her a lot; what you can’t learn from the book is what you get through experience. We literally sit in the same office. She has the benefit of sitting with me and hearing how I communicate with people and how I solve problems. That is what this industry is all about. This industry is all about solving a problem to get to the closing table.
My daughter has taught me to count on others. I often think I can do it all myself and that it will be faster. My daughter is the same way, and when I saw that in her, I thought, “I need to stop doing that to help her stop doing that.” She’s helped me to break that habit and that’s important because if you try to do it all yourself, you’ll kill your company. You can’t grow with that mindset.
Qualia: What are some of the biggest challenges facing women in the title and escrow industry today?
Party: I believe that this industry is well-suited for women. That is one of the reasons I’ve been in the industry for so many years. I’m a person that likes to write my own ticket. This industry gives us the ability to have control of our destiny. In Florida, where we are located, I’d say women are overall running the title industry.
Qualia: What could the title industry do better or what are they already doing well to attract female talent?
Party: I think it is very difficult to attract people to our industry because people don’t understand what we do. The first time I heard of a title company was when my husband and I bought our house many years ago. I still didn’t understand what it was. We as an industry need to work cohesively together to educate the world and consumers about what a title company does.
As an industry, we should work harder to educate people. Once we do that, we’ll have the ability to recruit new people into the industry. We want people to know what it is we do and that there is the potential to make a great living for years to come.
Qualia: What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?
Party: I’d say that they need to embrace change. This industry going through changes; changes it’s been fighting for a long time. People are afraid of change, but I try to embrace it. I try to find opportunity in change. If others would seek out that mentality, rather than being afraid, that would be the key to this industry taking a step ten years forward.