Be intentional about your choices. Understand that where you are reflects where you choose to be. This is the advice I give to people I mentor, both inside and outside the workplace.

I faced the challenge of balancing personal choices early. My daughter was two when I separated from my husband and made the conscious decision to “step it up” career-wise and refocus my education on finance and accounting. I completed my undergraduate degree, taking nine credits a semester while raising my child and working full time at Chevy Chase savings bank. I started as a bank teller and worked my way up to vice president and manager of quality control, central processing, and policies and procedures.

I then spent 10 years at PNC Mortgage Corporation of America, now known as Washington Mutual Home Loans. While at PNC, I held a variety of executive positions, including executive roles in credit risk management, which I earned by working hard and accepting the challenge of remediating broken processes or departments. This path eventually led to my current position at Freddie Mac as vice president of servicing and asset management.

The current housing crisis has made my job in the mortgage finance industry more difficult, but it has also made it more significant and rewarding than ever before. I know that life’s road can be bumpy, and I take pride in the fact that I have pioneered home preservation techniques that are helping hundreds of thousands of families overcome financial dilemmas that would have otherwise cost them their homes.

I firmly believe that obstacles are simply opportunities in disguise. The obstacles I have faced throughout my life and career only strengthened my resolve and desire to be successful. My personal drive and refusal to ever settle for less than my best have been key factors in my success. Identifying my strengths and innate skills and leveraging them to their fullest have enabled me to enjoy my career and my work. My advice for anyone interested in furthering his or her own career is to never be afraid to course-correct, because the road certainly isn’t a straight one. Be intentional and focused on what you want and then set a clearly defined path to achieve your goals.