Ditrick shares his journey from military intelligence to housing finance, why he thinks housing finance is the bedrock of our civilization, and the challenges of starting your own company.
Early in your career, you were in Military Intelligence in the US Army. What drove your decision to serve in the armed forces, and how did this set you up for later success in your career?Early on I was called to a life of service. Whether it was volunteering in the community, helping others, or serving in the church as an usher, I embraced that calling. Several members of my family served in the Army, various branches of law enforcement or with the fire department. I think Martin Luther King Jr. said it best in his quote: “…everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.” My time in the Army taught me many valuable lessons, but most importantly it taught me the value of unity, teamwork and determination.
Out of all the career paths you could have followed after leaving the military, what sparked your interest in housing finance?Out of all the industries, I believe that housing finance is the bedrock of our civilization. It’s what we work long days and nights for; it’s at the center of every family, legacy and community. A person’s home is their castle, so I believe on the other side of every loan there is a family and community that is stable and safe. That’s where we come together to eat, rest, teach and restore. We invite our neighbors, friends and extended families for cookouts and fellowship. We have seen the economic impact on a global scale effected by a weak housing financial market, and we have experienced all the technology and innovation created when we have a strong, diverse financial housing market. There is still more we can do to bring up the quality of homeownership for all people and create financial structures to allow a path for new homeownership formation in the underserved communities.
You also spent some time working in the energy industry before returning to housing finance. What was that transition like, and what overlap between the two industries do you see?The heart of what we do is centered around people, resources and solutions. Being a native Texan I was surrounded by energy. Texas is full of investors who are always looking for the next opportunity to deploy talent, money and resources. If you look at several of the energy funds during the peak of oil, and you look at the funds that are driving the market of most of the acquisitions and securitizations, you will see a correlation. The diversification into hard assets, real estate and mortgages was a natural transition because the manufacturing of the assets can be controlled.
Starting a company is a pretty big undertaking. Looking back, were you prepared for the challenge, and what advice do you wish you had received?Starting a company is challenging, and you are never truly prepared for everything. The one piece of advice I would have liked to have received would have been to understand what you are truly good at, and to find the right partners and resources that can fill in the gaps. You don’t have to be the master of everything, and it’s okay to fail.
What does the word “homeownership” mean to you?When I think about the word “homeownership” it’s in the context of equality and having a legal right to own a home.
The opinions and insights expressed in this Q&A are solely those of its interviewee, Ditrick Dunn, and do not necessarily represent the views of either Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation or any of its parent, affiliates, or subsidiaries (collectively, “MGIC”). Neither MGIC nor any of its officers, directors, employees or agents makes any representations or warranties of any kind regarding the soundness, reliability, accuracy or completeness of any opinion, insight, recommendation, data, or other information contained in this blog, or its suitability for any intended purpose.