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David Cooper's Story

My friend and former employee, David Cooper, was featured with his service dog, Parnelli (named for race car driver Parnelli Jones), on a National Geographic Wild documentary series “Blue Collar Dogs” this week.

David lost his sight when he was 17, in a warm-up run for a ski race on Aspen Mountain. I first met him in June 2001, when he applied for a summer internship with my first company, Murrayhill. I was impressed by David’s desire to learn the mortgage industry and hired him, thinking he would eventually make a good analyst on our credit risk management team.

But David set a different, more challenging course for himself. Following 9/11, our only salesperson was unwilling to fly to meet with clients in Manhattan. David sensed an opportunity. “If there’s ever going to be a time when a Wall Street trader will agree to meet with a blind kid who doesn’t know anything, it’s now,” he argued. I had to agree.

Following the trip, David went on to a successful career in sales. It wasn’t until much later that I found out he had only been to New York once before, on a family trip as a child.

David taught me that those with the highest potential often don’t come in predictable packages. It’s a lesson I have never forgotten, and one of the fundamental principles behind our hiring philosophy at Allonhill.  We look for character, compassion and commitment to our mission above all else. We want people with a desire to get it right for investors. And we want those qualities in every person we hire, no matter the position.

We look for winners, and those with the potential to be winners – whether they are fresh out of school, fresh into the mortgage world, or returning to the industry after being unemployed.  We want maturity on our workforce, as well as fresh minds. We think parenting gives people a lot of wisdom, and we treasure the wisdom of parents and grandparents on our team.  We seek people from all walks of life, because they bring us different views and different expertise to help solve a complex puzzle.  We are a woman-owned business, and that stands for a lot in the world of financial services.

Our people, and the diversity they represent, are what make us a success.

I hope you’ll watch for David’s story on an episode of “Blue Collar Dogs: Canine MD” on Nat Geo Wild.  Here’s a link to the network schedule that also will help you find what channel Nat Geo Wild is on in your area.