Women have long-powered the title & escrow industry. An enduring lineage of skilled and proficient female professionals have kept the industry running. Often these women carried out supporting roles. In recent history, however, women have stepped out of back-office positions and into leadership functions.
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.
We recently connected with Megan Meloon, Assistant Vice President and Agency Representative at Old Republic and president of the Virginia Land Title Association (VLTA), to hear her perspectives on female leadership. Meloon offered her take on why women are important figures in the title industry and how the title & escrow industry can continue to foster female talent.
Qualia: How did you get your start in the title industry?
Meloon: I got my start in 1996 when I was a senior in high school. I had an opportunity to move from a retail position to an office environment. Old Republic hired me part-time while I was a high school student. After I graduated, they asked if I wanted to stay on full-time and I did. I’ve been here ever since.
Qualia: That’s an early start to a complicated industry. Did you have any female mentors who helped you early in your career?
Meloon: I’ve had a few mentors throughout my career who were both male and female; however, one female mentor especially stands out to me. She worked with me shortly after I started at Old Republic and she had several years of experience in the industry. She took me under her wing so to speak and provided education and training opportunities for me. At that time in our industry, and particularly in Virginia, we didn’t have a lot of resources to learn about the title business. During that time, we had a licensing requirement, but there were no educational materials to help you prepare for the licensing test. My mentor created her own test and would sit with me to quiz me and educate me as much as possible so I could pass.
Qualia: She sounds like a persistent and valuable mentor. Why do you think it’s important for women to mentor one another in this industry?
Meloon: When you first enter the title & escrow industry, there is a lot of uncertainty. It’s really important for women, in particular, to connect with other women. There’s a unique connection that women hold with one another, which is very collaborative. We are able to relate to each other a bit more and foster that type of connection and collaboration. I think men are also capable of fostering these types of relationships, but it is a unique connection that I universally see with women.
Qualia: What inspired you to pursue a leadership role at VLTA?
Meloon: I first became involved with the VLTA in my early twenties. At that time, I wasn’t licensed but I was encouraged to attend an annual convention as a volunteer. That was a pivotal moment for me. When someone reaches out to say “we want your help, please get involved” it really gave me the first exposure to what the VLTA is all about. There are so many people from all ends of our industry who come together for the same reasons: to learn, network, and educate one another. As a newer person to the industry, being invited early on gave me a sense of purpose that I was needed. It encouraged me to engage a bit more.
The following year, I was licensed and my role within the VLTA became stronger. I was asked to volunteer for a committee. Again, that ask and the feeling of being needed to serve a purpose was really inspiring to me. I also watched how our board of directors ran and led the organization and I wanted to be among them as experts in the field. It was exciting to see.
I continued volunteering as much as I could on different committees to gain knowledge about our industry and the dynamics. Eventually, I was nominated to become a board member, which I gladly accepted. I continued to move to different positions on the board until I became president.
Qualia: Why do you think female leadership is important?
Meloon: Women bring something different to the table than men. I’ve found that females have the ability to multitask a bit differently and they often bring more work-life balance in many situations. Their personalities tend to be a bit more empathetic. Of course, everyone has their own personality traits and men can sometimes have these traits as well, but I do believe women are more likely to carry a more nurturing approach to business. I think women provide a good balance to what men bring to the table. For that reason, having a diverse balance of men and women in leadership is important.
Qualia: Why do you think women should pursue a title or escrow career?
Meloon: The exciting thing about the title industry is that there is not a clear or straight path and there are endless opportunities. In the past 20 years that I’ve worked in this industry, it has evolved so much. People (and women in particular) used to be type-cast into specific roles. Virginia was once an attorney state, with women playing supporting roles for the attorneys. It was a different time and so much has progressed since then. Those type-cast roles have shattered. We’ve always had a lot of females in the industry, and now they are taking on new roles and being empowered to do so.