Willy Walker, CEO, Walker & Dunlop, had no zero intention of joining the company his grandfather started in 1937. His journey to piloting the family legacy began in Latin America, where Willy worked in corporate finance, started an airline, and other industries. What remained constant was his passion for entrepreneurship and building successful teams. In this episode, Willy shares the insights gained from working around the globe and transforming his family’s successful business into a publicly traded company now servicing $120 billion in loans.
Growing up in Washington, DC, Willy thought he’d end up in politics, even though his father and grandfather ran a successful investment banking company. Instead, the college graduate accepted an invitation from the US Ambassador to Paraguay to work abroad. What was supposed to be six months turned into 13 years across Latin America and later Europe.
Latin America presented a chance to do things he couldn’t have in the US, such as starting an airline. Being the minority in the room was a humbling experience that imparted valuable lessons about team culture and entrepreneurship. Along the way, Willy’s passion for working with people and leading them to success transcended cultures.
A confluence of events combined with his years of entrepreneurship abroad helped Willy see enormous potential in Walker & Dunlop. He returned home ready to invest his efforts into building the family company. The beginning was baby steps, but the business took off as the brand built momentum and reinforced its culture. Under Walker’s leadership, the small regional family company servicing $2.8 billion in loans transformed into a publicly traded business serving $120 billion.
Tune in to hear Walker’s insights on why leadership is a privilege. We discuss why building a cohesive group of people is important to long-term success and the three steps that helped propel Walker & Dunlop forward.