David Upbin of MBA Education on Staying Ahead of the Curve

David Upbin is Vice President of Education Operations and Programming & MBA Strategy with the Mortgage Bankers Association. He joined MBA in 2013 and is responsible for financial management, operations, delivery and programming of MBA Education’s suite of training products and events. 

David Upbin

Over the past few years, Upbin has played a significant role in development and execution of several key initiatives, including Mortgage Banking Bound, Commercial Real Estate Basics, Level I of the Certified Mortgage Compliance Professional designation and Education Advantage, a training package geared towards Independent Mortgage Bankers and community-based lenders. 

For MBA strategy, Upbin helps develop, track and manage annual MBA performance goals and objectives, and plays a key role in oversight of the MBA’s cross-department strategic initiatives.

MBA NEWSLINK: Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, MBA Education was producing a number of virtual offerings. Did the pandemic accelerate that process?

DAVID UPBIN: Education has embraced live, instructor-led online training for several years now. School of Mortgage Servicing, School of Loan Origination, and our Commercial Real Estate Basics courses are best-in-class offerings delivered live and online.

There had been talks off-and-on in the past about trying some of our classroom courses in an online format, but you are correct that the pandemic greatly accelerated those conversations to the point where in March, we recognized it was a necessity to convert them. The Education team has done a tremendous job getting these courses converted so quickly.

NEWSLINK: What opportunities are you seeing from this? Has it made MBA Education more nimble?

UPBIN: Particularly as it relates to School of Mortgage Banking, member companies and individuals who may not have been able to take advantage of the training prior to the switch to digital are now able to do so. School of Mortgage Banking is a major commitment and investment of both time and money, and now that travel expenses have been eliminated and time out of the office reduced, the accessibility and value proposition of the training has increased.

We have also seen an increase in the demand for some of our offerings, most notably the Certified Mortgage Banker (CMB) designation. Amber Lawrence, who heads up our certification and designation programming, has heard from several individuals that now that work travel and commutes have been reduced, people have more time to focus on their professional development and growth.

NEWSLINK: What adjustments has MBA Education had to make in switching a number of courses from classroom to virtual, such as the School of Mortgage Banking series?

UPBIN: A lot! Our Content and Delivery teams have worked tirelessly to develop schedules that are more conducive to online learning, have added in polling and interactions to help keep students engaged, and converted activities so they can be delivered in a virtual setting.

NEWSLINK: We know that classroom participants say they enjoy the sense of engagement and the camaraderie from taking courses in person. How do you compensate for that with virtual offerings?

UPBIN: The obvious drawback of online events is that people do feel as if they lose that sense of engagement and connection with their instructors and fellow students. The Education team has worked hard to help students connect with others in the class by having icebreaker sessions at the beginning of some of the sessions, having students pin on a map where they are from, adding breakout sessions at the beginning of courses for students to get to know each other, and sharing the roster so they can connect.

The Commercial/Multifamily Future Leaders program, which heavily emphasizes the camaraderie you mention, held its first ever virtual Summer session with great success. Ernie Jolly, MBA Associate Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs, and the CREF team welcomed guest speakers Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., and MBA Senior Vice President of Commercial/Multifamily Mike Flood for discussions on hot topics in legislation and tips for effective leadership respectively. 

The session also included a special presentation from the Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg, which was specially designed to replace the annual field trip to Gettysburg. It was the first ever virtual session for the institute, and translated well to the virtual platform. We had 100% participation from the 2020 class of Future Leaders, and have received rave reviews for the session.

NEWSLINK: Are there some courses that you will strive to keep in-person?

UPBIN: The going assumption is that everything will be virtual and online from now through March 2021. If something drastic changes (or if nothing changes), then we will adjust accordingly. Our hope is that in spring 2021 we can start offering in-person classroom courses, workshop, and oral exams again, and that online offerings supplement the scheduled in-person offerings. The thinking is maybe one or two online School of Mortgage Banking classes a year. Our preference is to meet our members face-to-face and come to you!

NEWSLINK: MBA Education is a very different experience than it was five years ago; even six months ago. How do you think it will look in the future?

UPBIN: The sophistication with which we create and deliver training to our members has increased drastically in the past few years. The department has invested heavily in technology to enhance the design of our courses and increase the speed with which we update existing content and create new content. As a result of this work, the depth and breadth of our training library is extraordinary.

In the coming months and years you can expect to see more from Education as we continue to grow our compliance offerings, particularly finalizing the popular Certified Mortgage Compliance Professional (CMCP) designation as well as new offerings serving our Commercial/Multifamily members.

We have also worked to make accessing our training as affordable and seamless as possible. Member companies, no matter your business focus or size, can purchase Education Advantage to receive unlimited or near-unlimited access to our training for one annual price.