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Brandon Emerson, Managing Principal at Capco, shares about the journey he has been on through consulting. You’ll hear a bit of his journey into the details of how he built his own skillset to add value to an organization, and then found himself in situations where he was able to identify or take on projects deemed difficult, and ultimately finding ways to salvage, change, improve, and brighten areas inside of an organization. We talk about the DFW market and the future of the metroplex.

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Aaron Spatz  00:05

You’re listening to America’s entrepreneur, the podcast designed to educate, entertain, and inspire you in your personal professional journey. I’m your host, Aaron Spatz. And on the podcast, I interview entrepreneurs, industry experts, and other high achievers that detail their personal and professional journeys in business. My goal is to glean their experiences into actionable insights that you can apply to your own journey. If you’re new to the show, we’ve spoken with successful entrepreneurs, Grammy Award winning artists, best selling authors, chief executives, and other fascinating minds with unique experiences. We’ve covered topics such as how to achieve breakthrough and business, growing startups, effective leadership techniques, and much more. If you strive for continuous self improvement, and enjoy fascinating and insightful conversation, if the subscribe button, you’ll love it here at America’s entrepreneur really quick, we’re gonna dive right into it. So I’m super excited to welcome today’s guest, Brandon Emerson, Brandon comes to us through a variety of experiences. Really, it’s been it’s been a wild ride of different types of project and program management. I’ll let him do all the explaining as as he is. He’s the expert. But, Brandon, I just want to welcome you. And thank you so much for being here this morning.

Brandon Emerson  01:22

Yeah, very much. So and thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.

Aaron Spatz  01:26

Sir. Like yeah, so I mean, like, give us a quick give us a quick understanding of your journey. But before we do that, I’ve got to ask the obligatory question. Are you a DFW native? If not, where the heck are you from?

Brandon Emerson  01:38

Yeah, so I’ve been in DFW for quite a while that we’ve been here 18 years, originally from Amarillo, Texas, way out in the panhandle. So kind of a Flatlander as of electro for ourselves out there. And then spent some time around the US when I was in the Marines and Live in Des Moines, Iowa for a while, but for the most part, I would consider DFW area home for sure.

Aaron Spatz  01:58

Nice. Yeah, well, and so I can’t imagine the all the growth that you’ve seen happen over the last, you know, 15 years or so because it’s been, it’s been a place that just continues to sprawl and attract more business and more people.

Brandon Emerson  02:13

Yeah, absolutely. So it’s funny, my wife and I both been in kind of small town kids. We first moved to Metroplex area, we wanted to stay on the fringes, you know, so we were close enough to, to the city life, but also, you know, a little farther out. And we recently started in trophy Club, which at the time was on the edge of civilization. And now it’s the home of Charles Schwab headquarters fidelity headquarters, the voice training campus. This summer, we made the courageous move 11 miles north to argao, you know, which is a little bit further out on the edge, that already has seen a tremendous amount of growth even out here. I mean, it’s just amazing how many folks are moved in the Metroplex, which is really good for us, because a lot of it’s in the sectors that I work, but you’re right, it sure has changed a lot since we moved here in the 2000s.

Aaron Spatz  02:58

Well, you know, one day is just gonna be one never ending sprawl from here to Den. I mean, it’s just, it’s just going to continue to fill in, for sure. For sure, but, but I mean, give us a quick tour of your career. So you know, you’d mentioned you, you’d serve our country. Thanks a lot. It’s it’s awesome to talk to fellow veterans, and then you did your you transition out of the military. And looks like you kind of got your start, you know, working for Wells Fargo as a project manager. So give me give me a give me a little bit understanding of what was happening there.

Brandon Emerson  03:30

Yeah, you know, it’s kind of an interesting story to tell you about how do you go from Marine Corps infantry to developing web pages at Wells Fargo, but for me, that’s exactly what happens. So my wife and I, when I got out of the Marine Corps, I did not have a college degree. So we were looking for an opportunity where we could work and also go to school. So I found an opportunity at Simpson college and Indianola, Iowa, which is just outside of Des Moines, that this is before yet online learning or kind of the accelerated adult program. So we we moved up there and I taught myself on the side how to build web pages, and actually started there as a contractor building those dreaded online compliance courses that you have to take every year in corporate America. Yeah, so I did the anti money laundering and data privacy and courses like that. And over the after about I think I was 12 or 14 months, kind of moved into a junior project manager role. And at the time, Wells Fargo is experiencing tremendous growth. There’s a large refinance market going on at the time. And so they’re wanting to go from about 4000 loan officers to 15,000 loan officers and as a result, there’s a number of projects they have going on really in the technology space to drive that and I feel like my experience and the record just working, you know, leading people partly invest into project management and Wells Fargo, certainly a great organization to support me as I went to school at night work during the day got my PMP certification and really was able to be mentored by a lot of really fantastic managers and leaders that interest have served me well or my my career thus far in program private project management. So did a lot there wells. And really the technologists case was kind of my forte, which was a really good place for you started.

Aaron Spatz  05:19

Yeah, no, I mean, that’s, that’s a, that’s a really cool story. One understanding that you were more or less self taught just just to get just to get out the gate, and then to your, you’re driven enough to, you know, continue to work on education at night, but you’re just you’re working on seizing opportunity, after opportunity. And so, you know, just seeing the growth that happened there within the company, then you I mean, you just, you just kept on moving. So I mean, you’re you’re there looks like for for a number of years before you decided to move on, it looks like that’s the point at which you came back to the to the DFW area. Is that right?

Brandon Emerson  05:53

Yeah, exactly. So if you were 14 hours away from family up there, and we’re at that point in my family’s life, we wanted to have children and, you know, we wanted to obviously get get closer to grandparents and aunts and uncles and things like that. So we moved back to Texas, really, for that predominant reason. Also, my wife had said that she was tired of shoveling snow, as I will winters are pretty brutal, brutal, as you can imagine. So move back down here. And I really I was in my late 20s. And thought I was ready to start a PMO. You know, like I’ve done a PMO for five years and walked right into an amazing opportunity of trying to start a PMO with a bunch of as 400 programmers who absolutely hated project management. So it was a definite tribe off trial by fire there. But it’s really good work. And it was a little bit out of my comfort zone because it wasn’t in financial services. It was actually in, in the music and book publishing business where we distributed all the books, music and video for Walmart, and Sam’s Club, and then a big warehouse up here in Dayton, close to where I live now. And it was exciting, because I got to manage everything from Garth Brooks, Christmas box set releases to Harry Potter book releases, while at the same time trying to leave warehouse management system implementations across, you know, 600,000 square foot warehouses across the country. So I definitely got a large variety of projects there and enjoyed my time, but most importantly, was able to, really, for the first time, build a PMO in my own, you know, hire islands, hire my own staff, it took a great deal of influence in bringing in change management and bringing those senior developers around to be supportive of some of the the things I was trying to put into place. And, you know, that kind of leads me, you know, to the rest of my career was, I felt like, since I was able to be successful in that environment. There were certain lessons I learned when it came to change management and working with people that I feel have been a key part of my success as I’ve grown in my career.

Aaron Spatz  07:59

Well, certainly so I mean, the one thing I’m just hearing you say was, you know, as you tend to be clear, PMO Project Management Office, is that right? That’s correct. Yeah. Yeah. So like your, your ability to get buy in from the senior leadership levels, I think it’s probably been like your, I don’t know, just hearing you talk for a minute, just seems like that’s your secret sauce, right? Like, you’re, you’re able to get a lot of buy in, and you’re able to bridge those gaps of understanding or whatever, whatever it is. So I’d like I’d just like, like to kind of pull the thread on that one for a second. So I mean, what, what what are you doing? Or what are you going through in terms of like, Hey, this is something, something that I want to start, oh, by the way, it’s gonna cost you a bunch of money, here’s what it is, but like, how are you able to get buy in and and people like to really support what it is that you’re doing?

Brandon Emerson  08:51

Yes, great question. So I’m gonna answer in a little bit of a roundabout way. And so you know, from early on days, that the majority my Project Manager Certification, where we really focused on a real predictive environment, right. And so executives, obviously under a tremendous amount of pressure to deliver. And the last thing they want is unmitigated risks. So a project manager, the value that that discipline brought for a lot of years was minimizing risk, you know, or at least providing guardrails so that you can stay on time and scope on budget. Right. And that was really the value statement for a long time. And then we realized is maybe that that degree of predictability comes at a cost, right? It comes at a cost of flexibility and agility. And so we saw this emergence of, you know, the agile movement and agile transformation. For a while we thought this, I thought a lot of teams I’ve worked on we thought that was that was really the answer right now we can allow our executives to move a lot faster, and have a lot more nimbleness and how they’re trying to achieve their strategic objectives. And for me, as a delivery professional, you know, I was one of the first people in my department to really embrace agile and I’ve implemented you know, Scrum. and different versions of that combine in several different organizations. And I think that that we were pretty successful in helping demonstrate to executives how we can more quickly add value to the organization. I would say, though, that in the last three to five years, I’m seeing sort of the next emergence or kind of the next wave of transformation. And that’s it, I feel personally that we’ve over engineered the delivery of products and services, we’ve gotten really good at it. But what we haven’t spent enough time doing is talking about the people aspect of what it is we’re trying to do. And I mean, people from a couple different ways. So there’s really been a focus on the customer, you know, customer journey mapping and customer experience, even if you want to say to us your experience and things of that nature. And I’m 110% supportive of that. But what I feel we haven’t done a good enough job of focusing on professional is what about the employee experience? You know, what about the the experience of the teams, as well as the end users? Right? And how can we build an ecosystem or a culture where, you know, the engineering practices don’t have to jeopardize the proficiency and wellness, for lack of a better term of the the product team or service team delivering the service or product as well as the customer, right. And so, I’ve really kind of focused more, really, like I mentioned, the last three or four years on organizational change management as a competency to complement project management, complement product management, which is obviously very important in an agile environment. And again, more people focus than I have been in the past. So I’m telling everybody that I think that’s kind of the next wave. You know, as we see transformation efforts continue to stall and stumble. It’s really the people element of it that I feel is really been left behind.

Aaron Spatz  11:56

Now, I’m going to ask a kind of a dumb question, but I’m doing it I’m doing this on purpose just to just to give us another open ended platform to jump off of so when you when you say to people management side of things, are you referring to more so of the tactical level, like leadership principles and guiding and just guiding principles of it means to to organize and lead people effectively? Are you talking? or and or are you talking more along the lines of is that the proper skill sets that people need to have developed in order to do this better? Or, or any number of other kind of different combinations? Like what what specifically are? Are you getting when it comes to the people? So?

Brandon Emerson  12:38

Yeah, that’s a great question. Right? So let’s take in two different layers, let’s first look at the the delivery teams via your product team. Maybe your engineering team is supporting product development, let’s take a look at that lens just for a minute. Right. And so if you think about traditional project management is all about resource management. Yeah, you know, and and that’s really one of the main pillars of being an effective project manager, as you say, on time on budget, it’s in scope, so that you can maximize utility of your resources. So, and a lot of companies which I applaud that kind of gotten away from the term resources, because it is kind of insensitive to the human element of the delivery team,

Aaron Spatz  13:19

right? Hey, man, we’ve got we’ve got a human resources manager, human resources department. I mean, come on. Yeah, right, right. Human

Brandon Emerson  13:27

Capital Management, I mean, that term, that term and just how, you know, dehumanizing can be at time. So so what I look at is that, you know, so I just finished a degree in 2019, and industrial organizational psychology, and it was really all about my desire to dive into this topic, right. And what I found from a delivery side of the perspective is, you know, oftentimes, organizations are overstretched. I mean, the number of things they’re trying to get accomplished is is incredible, right, and to keep track with the market to keep track of competition, um, it feels like I’m working on a team and 15 years, it hasn’t been understaffed. So it’s one thing to not have enough people to really deliver. But when you go one level deeper, and you think about those people have the knowledge, skills and abilities to really do the work that we’re asking them to do. And as our performance metrics align with the things that we’re asking them to do, right, and I know this sounds like a real engineering approach to this, but what I’m finding is that with resource scarcity, it’s almost like you just put people on a team and hope that they can perform. And then sometimes were amazed, you’re surprised me at the end of a project and we’re located or middle of a project, like this isn’t really going great. Why not? And you’re like, well, the team needed, you know, five senior Java developers, and we had to, and we can only find two other Junior, you know, developers that are being mentored by the senior developers. And so while since our productivity lagging in that area, you know, like, we need more velocity, we need more velocity. And we put a lot of pressure on teams without really taking that broad lens perspective of why do we have the velocity that we need here, right how to be more strategic about that. Another thing I’d say is, you know, multi threading, how many how many product development, people are trying to innovate and develop new products and services while also trying to support the previous versions that are out there in the world, right. So it’s trying to help organizations think more holistically about the capabilities of their people, the knowledge and skills of their people, in conjunction with the velocity, and the throughput and the roadmaps that we develop. So that’s kind of lens one is how we look at the development team and the delivery teams, the second lens of it is being more robust and how we think about implementing and sustaining the changes that we’ve got here. Right. So this is kind of more of a traditional OCM approach or organizational change management approach. But you know, how have we set the stage for change, but the end users, right? How are where are they that this is coming? So this is where enterprise communications and kind of even a marketing spend sometimes need to be, you know, develops so that we can get in users attention? How are we avoiding change fatigue, you know, like, sometimes I get frustrated with my apple in my iPhone, when my Apple iOS is updating, you know, every so often I gotta go back and relearn features, right? I can only imagine in some of these platforms as product development, and we’ve gone to monthly releases, especially in a b2b platform, like, that’s pretty frustrating when you’ve got end users are trying to do their job, and their technology keeps changing in ways that they’re maybe not aware. So. So really trying to also add that people element or change management aspect to the implementation and sustainment of products and services, also something that I think, has really been neglected, but there really hasn’t been a home for that in the organization, you know, you kind of always say less, that’s kind of people stuff, maybe an HR team, or a communications team, maybe some groups have a marketing group that should handle that, but there hasn’t been a strong tie historically, between the OCM work that needs to happen with the actual product or service delivery team. So what I’ve really seen a need for in the market is the ability to have the need to build a bridge between the two, so that you have a really true, you know, 360 view of what’s needed to really implement the changes that are being developed. Now,

Aaron Spatz  17:21

I mean, it’s, it’s a, it’s a great perspective, in terms of having having somebody in, that’s their focus is, is observing and implementing your organization change. And, you know, like, kind of, to your point, as you’re talking I was, I was thinking about how the tendency, I think, has been, at least for mid cap large in large companies has been, you know, it’s, it’s an entire, like executive committee, or it’s a certain managerial layer within the organization, they all got to get together on it, they all have got to have buy in, or they have 1000 questions, or they have their own, you know, their own self interest, maybe, selfishly for their department or their team or whatever. And so it’s creates a whole bunch of different dynamics, but then kind of what you’re saying is, you have having this on a holistic, even at the macro level, that way, it can trickle down, you know, all the way down to the, to the lowest levels of the organization. And that’s, it’s a fascinating thing to think about. And, obviously, you spent, like, you spent a lot of time studying this stuff, man, like, you’re, you’re like, you’re going from technology in project management, program management now into understanding what makes everything else tick in terms of people and in research, you know, I’ll say the dreaded resource word, you know, but really, like, that’s, it’s a, it’s a fascinating, fascinating study. So, you know, take me through, then just because I like, I like to kind of go back and understand some of the other some of these other major inflection points in your in your career. So you’ve done some work at this IT program management office before, then you moved over to looks like Ernst and Young for a few years. So tell me a little bit about that experience before you went to core logic.

Brandon Emerson  19:05

Yes, sure. So that UI journey is what I love to tell. So I kind of appreciate you asking that. So, um, I always wanted to work and with the big consulting, and honestly, there was a period of time before my wife and I left the Moines that I really wanted to work for Accenture, but they want to relocate to Chicago. And my wife, my wife was like, Ashton, I’m moving to Chicago. So it was interesting is I got a call. I’m at lunch one day and I get a call from a recruiter who I don’t even know how he got my phone number but he did he gets kind of generic. My client is looking for someone with mortgage experience and project management experience, you know, would you be interested and you know, really didn’t couldn’t disclose the name of the his client and so sent me a job description. It’s pretty easy to read between the lines and a quick Google search and figure out that it was it was a UI So I went home and told my wife, I was like, Hey, I got this. The recruiter called me today for a position EY. And I’m not going to get that job, you know, they go after top kids from top schools. You know, they’re definitely interested in someone like me who has a more or less traditional kind of path through the military into corporate America. But what I didn’t know was that this is 2010. So there’s a lot of fallout kind of happening from the mortgage crisis of Oh, eight and and all the Big Four consulting really overnight kind of became responsible for, in my opinion, a great deal of the regulatory response that was happening in between the OCC, the DOJ, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the CFPB, you know, they were all everybody was after these big banks and mortgage companies, and they needed help. And so it was just right place the right time, I joined a great practice with any why the consumer banking practice, the gentleman who led us clean Baker’s his name was his name recently passed, but just did a great job of building a high performing team. And before I knew it, you know, I was I was sitting at the table dealing with directly with a lot of the issues that came out of the mortgage crisis of a way. So did that I’ll have a fantastic job with you. I tell everybody else probably one of my favorite jobs outside of Marine Corps, when it came to the challenge of the work that we were given the camaraderie of a team that I have, I got to work in some amazing places. Simi Valley, Calabasas, California, I get to work in New York for a year. So it was a really good experience for me. And I learned a lot about the inner workings of the mortgage business beyond the traditional, you know, banking part of it sure, in originating closing loans, and you start to learn more the regulatory side of it, and the capital market side of it, it really opens your eyes as to why some of the, you know, seemingly draconian rules are in place up front, or at least they should have been up front, you know, and so it really made me a much better around in mortgage professional, I still kind of claim that as my my major domain experience. But EY really afforded me the opportunity to learn how to be a good consultant. So yeah, so I did that for a while. Like all consultants, I think the last year I was there, I was on the road over 40 weeks that year. I mean, I feel Yeah, I can hardly remember being home and my wife and I found out we’re having our second child. Now, she also worked full time and essentially had this conversation. She’s like, Hey, I can’t be a single parent of two, because we already had our oldest son at the time. And so kind of hit that career crossroads where I had to find a place to get off the road, to be honest. And my resignation UI was one of the you know, it’s a very sad day. You know, when I always thought I would look back with and like, this is probably gonna be one of those rare moments that I regretted making this decision. However, that turned out to really not be the case. But yeah, so let’s see why and found a home at core logic, which is was great for me, because it was really close to home. And also stated that, you know, that mortgage, residential data management space, so it’s good.

Aaron Spatz  23:23

Wow, wow, man, because, well, I’ll jump CoreLogic here in a second. So but no, I mean, the, the experience that you got it, you know, at EY. I mean, like, like you’d said, it just it continued to help refine and hone your skills give you exposure to a whole bunch of different things. And we could spend a ton of time even just talking about that. But like, because I am curious, like, so how much of the work you’re doing? How much of that work was tied to, you know, all the you know, all the all the battle damage that occurred as a result of the as of the housing crisis there tells Nate like, what, like, what did that what, what impact did that have on the work that you’re doing?

Brandon Emerson  24:02

Oh, it was incredible. I mean, our very first project, you know, maybe some of the listeners or viewers here remember Robo signing? I don’t know if you remember the robo signing Fallout at all? No. So a quick quick synopsis of that. So there was, you know, a lot of these mortgage companies, they obviously don’t have attorneys to be able to handle foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings in all your all states. So what they do as they use third party, Attorney firms that they have within their network to be able to handle those proceedings on their behalf. And there’s so there’s some states where, you know, foreclosure needs to go through the courts. Those are like judicial states that we call those and there’s non judicial states where it’s not as important to have legal representation, but it’s still necessary. So with the massive influx of foreclosures that were taking place, these you know, Attorney firms that the large banks and mortgage lenders we’re using are just swamped with volume. And so as you can imagine, through the legal process, there’s a number of documents that need to be signed and notarized in order to file the information needed to keep the proceedings moving along in the court system. And so what was discovered with a firm in Florida as they basically had a whole bunch of pre notarized pre signed forms, that, that they were just thinking of it as like, a Word doc template type approach, where they just had to go in and fill in the the loan of the borrower specific information so they could keep the the paperwork, you know, moving. And in fact, there was no attorney actually reading that document, and no actual notary notarizing signatures on that document. And you that jeopardize the integrity and a lot of the foreclosure processes that were taking place. They’re being handled by that firm. And, you know, they need to find that, unfortunately, was more of a common practice than you would think. And so there were a number of foreclosure cases that were thrown out of court because of this. And that, obviously, introduces a whole another set of risk for the mortgage servicers, and then ultimately, Freddie and Fannie, the GSEs, who owned the note. Wow, so yeah, so I mean, that I don’t know if it gets much more ground level than that. So my, my very first team that I let it you I, you know, we were involved in building processes of controls to make sure that that didn’t happen again, as well as doing loan level file reviews alongside the client, to help understand the points in the process, where were controls like that were missed. And so, you know, I can remember sitting in a warehouse going through files, and you no one understand the process breakdowns, the to getting a sense of why well, there were so many more of these defaults in 2008, you know, looking through the loan files, and just seeing the hardships that the borrowers had gone through to get to the point of their homes being foreclosed upon, you know, in some states, massive waves, Arizona, Nevada, Florida. I mean, it was it was just tremendous. But yeah, it definitely was eye opening for me. And I think that was a very important link or an inflection point in my career, to work on something that was so massively impactful for the country, but more specifically to really the industry that that I work in,

Aaron Spatz  27:31

man. Well, I mean, because that whole, that whole crisis was set was set in and I’m not particularly expert, I’ll let you do all talk on this one. But the that whole, that whole problem was set was set off by a bunch of subprime loans. Right, is that that was the that was the general catalyst, right, that kind of made trigger this like, Would you mind we’ll kind of if you’d like to, would you like to kind of walk through what what happened? Like what was unfolding that causes us entire way across the country?

Brandon Emerson  28:03

Yeah, I mean, some would argue that it was subprime lending, and this is going to be out of my area expertise, but really what it what rolled into where the mortgage backed securities, so is how those tranches or those groups of loans are being packaged up and sold on the secondary market, as mortgage backed securities, and really the shortcomings of mitigation of risks at that level. So, you know, you as a lender, you’re always gonna have varying levels of risk. And you put subprime lending as a high degree of risk is, in my opinion, low but from what we saw was when you take that risk, and kind of diluted in a way, through mortgage backed securities and secondary market, that it’s not easily controlled or mitigated. That’s really, you know, what I feel and what I’ve seen, really got a hand and caused a lot of the mortgage crisis Fallout, you know, so, for anybody out there listening, the movie, The Big Short was Steve Carell, if you’ve seen that, I mean, to me, that’s the best explanation of what happened, that then you could go through their free entertaining to watch as well. But yeah, that was really it had more to do with secondary market and really MDS fall out. And it really did subprime lending, but obviously, subprime lending was a key contributor to that.

Aaron Spatz  29:20

Sure. Yeah, well, I just made a note about the Big Short so I’ll have to check that out. I don’t think I’ve seen that yet. So that’s noted. Okay, so then let’s So let’s explore more than like the the the CoreLogic journey are there nearly six years and yeah, again, you did you did a variety of different things there. So looks like it was very, very similar in terms of your style of coming in and looks like you’re helping set things up or get or get things moving along, just with your previous background. So what what what was that journey like?

Brandon Emerson  29:54

Yeah, it was a lot of fun and for logic. It’s one of those tales of They They hired another consulting firm to come in and help them engineer sort of a new intermediary group between their IT or their development group and what they would call their business team. Okay, so I was hired as one of the first thing, my initial job title was IT solutions partner. And so my job is supposed to be the face off with a business, understand, you know, what their needs were helped him frame funding requests and projects, and then serve as the delivery liaison with the technology group. That was a centralized function under the CIO. Okay, so that’s the real I was hired into. I don’t know if I ever did that role. So for the first like two or three weeks I was there. It’s one of those classic scenarios where the person I referred to, was brand new in their role as a brand new department. Nobody really wanted this role turns out that consultants to pitch the idea to core logic and so it was a rough First, I would say probably 90 days at core logic, as it tried to sort through that. But what’s great about core logic is that it actually has a pretty entrepreneurial culture. And so they grow through acquisition, that’s predominantly how they grow. And so there is no shortage of of work to be done either on helping them modernize some of the platforms they had in house, or helping them integrate some of the new products or companies that they had acquired. So I kind of navigated myself into position where I was an internal consultant, team of one, and help them do some operating model design with a multifamily unit that they purchased out of Atlanta. So kind of the integration, I guess you could call it a bad business unit into core logic. And for a while, helped him stand up and implement a new enterprise program management office on it side. So I mean, every year they had, you know, 100 plus million dollars in project funding requests that they wanted to run to the IT organization from their 910 different business units. And so I set up a team of the first portfolio managers that were aligned those business units, and we were sort of the ones who are responsible for helping facilitate the annual planning process with the CIO and his direct reports. So you know, how do we carve that seemingly infinite list of projects request down to the set that we can truly deliver on that year. So took a lot of pride in that. That was actually the first part where I began to look at program and project management on a more macro level, and be able to integrate more of the agile approach to instead of, you know, I project funding requests and set scope, you know, what’s the growth profile of that particular product or platform? And how can we instead give them annual funding and just let the product manager decided to scope. And that’s, that’s pretty, you know, that’s a pretty big change from the more projects mentality that we’ve had before where, again, scope time, budget, resources, right. So learn a lot about how to set that up, I learned a lot about capitalization, because obviously, it’s more difficult to capitalize a project, it doesn’t have, you know, really defined scope at the onset. So we had to implement some, some cool things like iterative funding reviews, where, you know, every quarter, they had to sit down and demonstrate to the the finance group, you know, what they built, what intellectual property been developed as a part of that, you know, what the market was for that. So, that was really cool. I mean, it was it was, again, focus more on like, think of it like an investment manager, or investment portfolio manager, then a project manager and program managers. So, we set that up. And then towards the end of my career, at core logic, I spent time helping with mergers and acquisitions, and also ultimately helped lead a group we purchased a company that specializes in appraisal management software. So that’s thing about matters, bought a house, you know, almost every property needs an appraisal. And so the software that this company managed was kind of the middleware between the lenders, software and the appraiser in the field. So they would, you know, our software would show the orders out to the appraisers and that the appraisers completed the appraisal, they have come back through this software, we’re doing a quality control check, and then it would ship that back to the lender so the underwriter can make their lending decisions. So it was fantastic. I mean, the best thing about that experience was the company had been newly acquired by core logic. They were founded by four professors out of a large college and in the SEC, and they were How to really, I think difficult time acclimating to being owned by a large California based CoreLogic, you know, headquarters if you will. So I got to come in and not only do that post transaction integration, but ended up running one of the business units there for for over a year, year and a half there and really got a chance to meet and work with some fantastic people. And while also learning a ton about you know, appraisals and collateral management that something that again, an area and dove too much into before that, those really excited to work with,

Aaron Spatz  35:35

wow, oh, no, I just I just laugh, I’m hearing your story. And looking back on the things you’ve done, because you, you have this track record now of like, Okay, you go, you’re going into what are often, you know, undefined or not, or not exhaustively defined roles in, you end up carving out space for yourself. And I’m trying to understand like, like, what, what is going on in your head when you’re evaluating these different situations, because I mean, you’ve you’ve obviously got some type of methodology that you’re using just internally for yourself, when you come into a situation you’re in, you’re maybe recognizing or identifying certain gaps or certain opportunities. So like, one, what, like, what are you what are you doing when it comes to like, figuring that part of it out, but then to what’s the other side of that, because I mean, there’s a ton people who have great ideas for whatever their organization may happen to be. But again, I go back to the point I made earlier, like, right at the beginning of our of our time together is like, you clearly have some type of ability to communicate what the value add and what the what the value proposition is for what you’re working on to, to whoever is, whoever’s managing you. And even levels higher than that. So like, walk, walk me through that walk me through part one, and part two of that?

Brandon Emerson  36:54

Yeah, um, it’s funny, because I wish I could say that these roles that I’ve taken on, I’ve always been intentional, you know, my wife would probably be, like, love to make a comment on this, because she’s like, Why do you always seem to find yourself in the middle of like, the worst project and the most stressful project? And I don’t honestly know, off the top of my head, why I’m drawn to those sorts of opportunities. I’ll tell you, the thing that I love, most of what I see is the reason that I found a similar situation is I love to learn. Yeah, so I would, I’ve worked in jobs where it’s been a little bit more predictable. And I find myself kind of going crazy in a short period of time. So oftentimes, when you see a scenario where something’s on fire, or its enormous challenge, the first thing that I see is an opportunity to learn, and really dive into something. So that’s, I would say, is the first thing that draws me into that. The second thing that I love about those kinds of projects, and it was probably a batch consulting, which we’ll talk about here in a bit has been the way that the teams that I’ve worked on on those difficult projects have always seemed to galvanize. And, you know, I think that’s one of the greatest team building things that are out there is a team facing and challenge together. Absolutely. And so, obviously, if you can’t tell, like I really enjoy people, and working alongside teams, working with people who are much smarter than me that I can learn from, and it seems like when you’re in a situation where you’ve got a high priority project, you’re working for a major client, the team just inevitably, inevitably become focused on what matters most. And it brings out the best in people. So some would say the worst but I think that’s only temporary you know, the stress and managing a difficult client or a tight timeline. Sure, sure. That’s that’s kind of the the negative aspects of being on some of these these major projects. But maybe I’ve just been really fortunate, but in my career, it seems like people are, are more willing to accept those those giant challenges, almost not a matter of personal pride that definitely had a team and unit cohesion as you approach those things. So for me, that’s why I really like working on those big games, I’m drawn to them. You know, it’s, it’s obviously taken a lot of risk when you sign yourselves up to work on those kind of projects. I would sit down and tell a lot of folks that if you really want to grow as a professional, either in your company or outside of your company, you have to take those kinds of risks you know, that’s been a really catapulted me to the various levels of my career have been raising my hand and they said, Hey, this is major clients at risk. We don’t know we’re gonna do and he’s somebody that parachute into this project and help us you know, understand how to put it back on the rails, you know, and I can leverage different experiences. I can use a project manager fro tracking use, you know, agile approach or an OCM, organization, organizational change management approach, those are all just tools in the toolkit. But what it really takes is just a willingness to assume that risk and work with the individuals, either the clients or the team to put those things back together. And it’s very fulfilling for me. So that’s why I’ve always found myself in those undefined roles. Just again, the challenge and the learning aspect of it.

Aaron Spatz  40:29

Wow. Yeah, no, I mean, because they they are I mean, I mean, what I’ve noticed is just with people that are just continuously wanting to learn and really push themselves just they continue to, they make they make others around them better, they, they tend to have a positive influence in the organization, because they’re there because they’re often taking on roles that nobody else wants to take on, or they’re addressing a problem or challenge and willing willing to kind of put their name on it and figure it out. And it doesn’t always work out either. You know, like, there’s, there’s plenty of examples of people have gone into, make changes in those, and maybe those didn’t, maybe just didn’t go very well, for whatever reason, but for, for whatever reason, you you’ve identified and you’ve been able to kind of slip into these different situations where there were there were needs that you felt like you you wanted to go and give a shot and address it make it happen. And so I think it’s, I think it’s nice, and like the second part of that, too, has been, you know, like, how have you been able to? Like, what’s the best way to say this? You know, like, there’s, there’s certain I’m sure there’s like certain deliverables and certain expectations of your own role. But I mean, how are you able to get, I guess, as much a leash or as much leeway as much freedom or as much autonomy and some of the things that you’re working on, versus some of these other situations?

Brandon Emerson  41:51

Yeah, that’s a really good question. Um, the first is, you know, I can’t remember where I heard this phrase the first time, but that notion of moving at a speed of trust. So it’s very important, I think upfront, both with the leadership team and with the the team that I’m working on, if you want to kind of bifurcate it that way to establish a trust across both sides. Right and, and obviously, humility, in my approach goes a long way in being sure that everybody understands that I’m in this for their best interest, not my own best interest, I think is really what’s, you know, what’s really helped me get off on the right foot as I go on these engagements. I think that the second thing that I say about this is so there’s a great book by Jocko Willink, and Leif Babban called Extreme Ownership. I can see over my head here, my Jocko poster back here, it says, good. But, you know, I learned a lot from from Jocko and leaf and kind of their approach, great book for those of you may not read it, but you know, being sure that that you do take that that position, that posture of Extreme Ownership, you know, and if I’m going to sign up to do the job, I gotta be willing to accept all the bad stuff that happens in you call it the blame for things to go wrong, as long as I do, spreading the credit around the team for the things that go well. So being transparent, and, you know, for training, and being committed to that notion of Extreme Ownership with the leadership team. And also with the delivery team. It has been very effective. And it’s very important to me, so you know, I had a client just last year during COVID, where my team took some risks and made some assumptions that we would have some technical capabilities that we needed to have to make this new process work. And we kind of built a lot of our operating model design around that assumption. And at the end of the day, that technology didn’t have the full capabilities that we needed, and my client wasn’t happy. And I tried to tell that that’s on me, you know, like, I’m the one that ultimately made the decision based off feedback from the team that this technology would be capable of handling this and now that we discover the immortals be able to handle it, then obviously, we’re gonna go back and rework some things, and that’s going to jeopardize our timeline and as uncomfortable as a conversation, as that was with my clients. And think of it as like COVID. There’s not a lot of, you know, business to be had here in COVID. Last year, so there’s certainly some sleepless nights there. But, you know, what I found was just being open and transparent, and taking ownership of that helps me gain credibility, that’s now lead on to follow on work with that same client, right. So, to me, that’s, that’s a huge part of it. So trust, accountability is a big part of it. And then, you know, I say the third thing would be perspective, you know, and having perspective of, you know, the tremendous amount of pressure that executives especially are under nowadays, the tremendous amount of difficulty that comes with transformations and helping create milestones or sort of an approach where we know we’ve got these the macro level things we’re trying to accomplish? But how can we have a perspective of what we can get done today? You know, you know, how do we have a perspective on what progress we’ve made since yesterday, and let’s not, you know, let’s not jeopardize the the satisfaction that comes with the short term wins that we’ve had, for a sake of how daunting the long term objective appears to be. Right? So just trying to keep that in balance with everything else. Those are the things I think it really helped me be successful when it comes to these transformation type projects are really, most of the roles that I’ve had in my career. I’ve been

Aaron Spatz  45:37

no, no, it’s also a thing. I mean, thanks for sharing all that. It’s a, again, it’s, it’s just it’s fascinating to kind of dig, dig a little bit behind the scenes as to what like what’s going on? What what, where’s your head at? Like, what are your like, what are you doing is, as you’re going into these different roles, it’s just it’s a, it’s a fascinating thing, fascinating to talk about. So Help Help me understand then your journey, then, as you got to the conclusion of core logic, and then ultimately, to where we are right now at the get go?

Brandon Emerson  46:05

Sure, yeah. So um, yeah, I mentioned a second ago earlier about when I left Eli, you know, and how bittersweet that was for me. So, you know, last year, I should probably do the 2019. In consulting, you don’t really have a manager or a lot of firms don’t position it as like you have a defined hierarchy or, you know, like you would see an industry, instead, you got a two points of leadership, you have your leadership on the project or engagement that you’re working on. And then you sort of have a career coach. And that person is somebody in the firm who’s really responsible helping guide you through your career, and also represents you and the end of your review process. So my coaching UI was a fantastic is a fantastic guy named Todd Rosencrantz. He’d been in UI for 20 years. And so I kind of had this inkling that I wanted to return to consulting. Really, because I really, again, love the challenging situations that consultants are typically brought in to assist with a lot of the consulting staffing has folks who are early in their career. I mean, that’s, that’s a not necessarily a large part of my team, but definitely a part of my team and consulting. And so I enjoy working with those folks who are almost always extremely bright in push and push elearning, you better so kind of drawn to consulting. And then when I got a call from from Todd, telling me that he was leaving UI to start a new financial services practice with CAP go in Texas, is too good to pass up. And so Todd, basically, Texas for capital has always been a big energy. Focus, we have we have resources that obviously work with a lot of the major oil companies down in the Houston area, and in Texas been more focused, really in energy, and but with the migration of companies to Texas, but really here in the DFW area, there’s been an enormous amount of financial services companies that have moved into the area. And so capital under Todd’s leadership, really felt that there’s an opportunity for capital to establish and expand their financial services practices within Texas or I would say, within the South geography here to help serve those clients. And for me, it was the perfect arrangement because Todd on myself and a number of the other folks that we brought onto the team, all come from that big consulting experience, yeah. But we’re able to work on a more local level with clients that are right here in our own backyard. So that allows us to have establish that that type of community, those types of relationships, where I might see my client at the grocery store, or I’m, you know, I might pass them in a bowl field somewhere. And that’s, that’s a lot closer than what I was able to establish when I was flying to LA or New York with Eli, selfishly also get to stay home more working kind of more in this market. So there’s really good opportunity for me, and the time is right for me to make that change to come back to consulting. Yeah, so it’s been it’s been a really good ride. Right off the bat, we landed, you know, the, you’re starting a business, you always need that, that, who’s gonna be my big clients gonna help us get the foundation laid, right. And we were very fortunate to find that client right off the bat, and walked right into a large transformation project that was barely getting off the ground and then COVID hits, we had to kind of re baseline everything. And regardless, it was very challenging year last year for us, but we’re in a great position to really perform well, in 2021, or our team is growing. I mean, we are constantly on the lookout for great people that can help us build this practice.

Aaron Spatz  49:58

Well, it’s cool I mean, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a great story of one. And I think I think this is, again goes back to one of the major themes of this conversation has been, there’s a lot of power in relationships, right? It’s like, it’s, it’s something that you can’t state enough of just how important it is to develop relationships. And so this is just another example of not just not just like team dynamics of like a lot of the different relationships and and the changes that you’ve had to manage and the people that you’ve had to kind of help coach along the way, but then also looking, you know, kind of a little bit more outward focused is is that that coach, right, that that person’s representing you inside of inside of this large consulting firm, but then maintaining that relationship, you know, beyond that, and now it’s led to another opportunity. And then And then again, going back to the point you just said was, you know, now you’ve got get consulting work that you’re doing, where there’s a chance that you could bump into your, your, your clients here locally inside of DFW. So that’s, that’s pretty, that’s pretty fascinating. You’ve made a minute another interesting observation, I’d like to kind of dig into that for just a quick second before we wrap up. But you mentioned that, you know, Texas has been long known obviously as as the energy capital in terms of just the sheer volume of companies that are dealing with oil and gas and just different types of energy. And you mentioned your financial services companies kind of, you know, more of those coming into DFW so is it and I, I understand because that’s, that’s a large part of your focus. But as you look at DFW as a whole, I like to kind of just kind of just ask you where you think the future of DFW is heading in terms of if you had to make a prediction, or if you can kind of read between the lines, do you see any trends in terms of like, you know, what kind of Metroplex DFW becoming, or do you? Do you think it’s heading a certain way of being known as X, Y or Z? Well, that’s a that’s a pretty good question. Yeah. Um, if not, that’s okay, too. I mean, I just, I just, I just thought I’d throw it out there.

Brandon Emerson  52:04

No, I mean, so let me honestly for my my industry, right, so if you look back historically, in financial services, you know, countrywide had a pretty good presence here. Now Bank of America has a pretty big presence here. And then your nation star mortgage was kind of a middle market player. So let’s just in the mortgage space, it’s been incredible to see the growth, if you will, and mortgage you know, mortgage be its own kind of little industry has different partitions as well. So you always see that origination, which is kind of the front part of the orange process, simply a distributed model. And then you’d have centralized fulfillment, which is underwriting center. And then you’d have servicing, which are the people who collect your payments and help you pay taxes. And you can see large canvases for fulfillment and servicing. But all the front end of it was your origination side was really distributed. And what I’ve been amazed to see is a lot of those fulfillment sites and servicing centers are migrating to Dallas, it’s really easy to do when there’s already a trained talent pool there. So if you can imagine if you’re wanting to start a new, you know, a mortgage servicing center, or a mortgage servicing company, if you could get a foothold in an area where there’s already, you know, presence by your competitors, and you have an opportunity to obviously leverage some of those those folks who might be looking for a career change. So that’s certainly I felt like helped the mortgage industry grow. But then we’ve seen just, you know, Shea’s feeling that large campus over in Plano brought a lot of jobs, Freddie and Fannie both have increased their presence here as folks that want to migrate away from DC. So on the on the mortgage banking side of things is just an incredible on the best side effects where I live, who would have thought that we’d have, you know, a wealth management presents like we have here with Charles Charles Schwab moving their North America, North America headquarters here, TD Ameritrade, you know, obviously been acquired by them. I’ve had a campus over here, near where I live in South Lake, as well as fidelity, how to mass massive campus here. So I never would have thought years ago that the VFW be, you know, a preeminent player in wealth management. But it’s really, it’s gotten there. And I think that we’ll continue to see that syntax, you know, core logics move most of their their headquarters operations here. I can envision a lot more FinTech moving here, as companies, you know, transition from the coasts are looking for new home, you know, Texas and Florida seem to be the two hotbeds for that. So I do think that we’ll continue to see growth in the financial services sector. Now having talked about auto lending with Toyota and a lot of things that they’ve got going there as well. It’s not my domain, but I can easily see us becoming much more of a financial services based economy here in DFW than what we’ve traditionally seen, like you mentioned that The energy your oil and gas space. Yeah.

Aaron Spatz  55:02

It’ll, it’ll just, it’ll be fascinating because, I mean, obviously, you know, the Metroplex has evolved over the years, and it’s continuing to evolve. And so, as you mentioned, I mean, you’ve got so many more companies that are relocating from, from some of the more obvious places, but there’s also players coming in from maybe not so obvious places. And so it’s just, it’s, it’s interesting to see a little bit of a consolidation occurring here. And so I again, that that’s, that’s the lead to the to the sprawl, right? That’s part I mean, I imagine that’s a little bit of the of the attraction for you, at least moving from Trophy club up up to the Argyle areas. So it’s a little bit a little bit of a change. And I again, it’s, there’s a, you know, with all this influx of talent and companies and everything else, it’ll just it’ll be interesting to see over the next several years, kind of what the face of DFW looks like, and and what that what that means for the future of our local, just overall local economy. So it’s been it’s it’s a it’s a fascinating, it’s a fascinating thing to kind of think about. But Brian, I mean, I realized, I mean, I’m telling you Time Time flies, man. So it’s been it’s been a true blast me, but how can how can people get in touch with you? How can people connect with you and follow some of the work that you’re up to?

Brandon Emerson  56:15

Yeah, absolutely. So LinkedIn, like most professionals, I mean, that’s the absolute best place to to get in touch with me or to learn more about what we’re working on here. You know, Capco is a company that company I work for now. So you obviously go to our website to learn more about our services and industries that we serve. But yeah, be glad to connect anybody out there who might have questions or want our follow ups.

Aaron Spatz  56:40

That’s awesome. Well, man, I just I just want to I just want to say thank you. This has been a it’s been a blast. Thanks for Thanks for spend some time with me this morning. It’s been a it’s been it’s been a true pleasure.

Brandon Emerson  56:50

Yes, and hearing I appreciate the invite very myself.

Aaron Spatz  56:53

Awesome. Thanks for listening to America’s entrepreneur. If you enjoyed the show, please leave a review or comment on your preferred social media platform. share it out with friends, family, coworkers, others in your network. And of course, you can write me directly at Erin at Bold media.us. That’s a Ron at Bold media.us. Until next time,

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