In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we invite readers to embark on a look-through of diversity and inclusion at Ready Capital’s working culture. Our latest Inside Ready Capital article, a captivating Q&A interview with Fernando Mendez, Executive Director of CRE Finance, delves into the richness of cultural experiences and contributions.
Through Fernando’s unique perspective and insights, we hope to shine a spotlight on the importance of fostering a culture that embraces diversity and inclusion. As we open the doors to their story, we extend an even wider welcome to a more inclusive future for all.
Tell us about yourself, Fernando.
I was born and raised in the Philadelphia suburbs, specifically on the Main Line. My mother is Puerto Rican, my father is Colombian, and both are first generation. As such, I had the privilege of a unique upbringing and exposure to varied cultures. I also had the opportunity to spend a quarter of every year in Puerto Rico until I was 18.
While attending high school I was a member of the wrestling and baseball teams. After graduation, I attended Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee, where I studied economics and finance. I was President of my fraternity, Treasurer of the Cancer Society, and a member of the rugby team. Currently, I am an Executive Director with the Commercial Real Estate Finance team at Ready Capital, where I originate all debt products across multiple markets. I reside in Greenwich, CT with my wife Remy, daughter Layla, and our French Bulldog Bosley.
When not working, I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, golfing, and I am a proud season ticket holder for the Philadelphia Eagles. Go Birds!
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Hispanic Heritage Month makes me think of my dad and all he has accomplished to put me where I am today. In Bogota, Colombia, my father’s family did not have much money or opportunity, so he immigrated to the US at the age of 18, and attended Villanova University on a scholarship, learned to speak five languages, and later taught at the prestigious St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia for 30 years. He has since been named one of the most influential Latinos in the City multiple times, with shows on Telemundo and local radio. He is heavily involved in Latino charities and local politics. He’s spent most of his life advancing opportunities for his people and his family.
It is very easy to get caught up in American culture, and forget how lucky we are, but my father has always kept me grounded, and is a constant reminder of where I came from. I was not raised with a ton of tradition, but I distinctly remember celebrating Three Kings Day in Puerto Rico every year with my mother’s family, and then realizing that no one else at my school did.
I remember my classmates being fairly confused by stories of leaving out straw in a shoebox for the camels of the three Wise Men to eat, but to me, it was a great way to spend more time with my extended family. The extra presents were a bonus!
What advice would you give to young Latinx professionals who are looking to get into the REIT industry?
My advice is to network as much as possible and maintain the ability to communicate in Spanish. This business is all about making and maintaining connections. Doing so through the Latino community, is a great foothold. Being bilingual is a major differentiator in the United States and I believe it is important to cultivate the things that make you unique.
What is a personal motto you live by?
My high school’s motto, “Esse Quam Videri: To be, rather than to seem to be.” Authenticity is key in life, and in business. People can tell when you are faking it, and more than anything else, you will never be happy trying to be someone that you are not.
What family traditions do you cherish?
In my family we celebrate Christian, Jewish (my wife is Jewish), and uniquely Latino holidays. It’s a great way to stay open minded and embrace the traditions of several cultures.
What is one fun fact about you?
My wife and I honeymooned in Tanzania and Rwanda, splitting time between safari and gorilla trekking on a volcano.