How Marie Mortimer Started one of Australia’s Largest Online Lenders

When I finished my bachelor’s degree in business in 2002, I’d never thought it would lead me to operating one of Australia’s largest online lenders. The internet was in its early infancy back then and finance was still somewhat manual, and paper based, especially home loans.

After my degree was completed, I worked for a couple of years in the home loan industry in Brisbane, before moving to London. It was there I used my degree and experience to get an entry level job in an investment bank. The bank was a very challenging place to work, and while I originally started in an operations role, I moved to a change management role within about 6 months.

It was in change management that I learnt how to deliver software projects to the business and improve systems for end users. It was a great experience and set me up for my role today.

In 2010 I moved back to Australia and in 2011 I started for my family’s business, Firstmac. There were a lot naysayers at the time who were critical of my ‘pink website’ and thought I was doomed to fail.

With a lot of hard work and hard learnings, I have proven them wrong and now is one of Australia’s largest online lenders with over $6 billion in home and car loans under management. We are a pioneer when it comes to online lending in Australia.

There are a lot of lessons that I’ve learnt during my time since being a university graduate to where I am today running a company. The biggest learning I’ve had is to not worry what other people think and have confidence in myself.

I am a profound believer that there is a gender gap in the workforce, in particular, in financial services because women from an early age are not taught to be risk takers. One of my favourite books at the moment is The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, and they talk about women not owning their achievements and putting their success down to ‘being in the right place at the right time’.

I myself over the years have doubted my ability and put everything down to luck. As women we seek a perfectionism that doesn’t exist and if we are not careful we will create a next generation of women as a cookie cutter model of ourselves.

We should be teaching the next generation of female leaders to stop the self-doubt and take some risks. Sure, you might fail, but if you don’t take action, then you might miss out achieving something beyond your wildest dreams.

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