How to Succeed in Business by Really Trying

September 01, 2012

By Mary Seymour

In 1960, soldiers from Fidel Castro’s militia entered the childhood home of Patricia Loret de Mola ’78 ’80MBA, searching for hidden firearms and valuables. Unaware of the direness of the situation, four-year-old Pat and her sisters stood at the top of the stairs and scattered play money down on the soldiers while the girls’ parents looked on in dismay.

Pat’s father, a veterinarian and rancher, was a substantial property owner until Castro seized power in 1959 and instituted socialist agrarian reform. “My father tried to keep his land, but it was confiscated,” she recalls. “He stayed in Cuba a little longer than the rest of the family because he wanted to protect his property.”

By 1961, after the failed Bay of Pigs mission, staying was too dangerous—as the militia’s visit to the Loret de Mola home had proved. The family moved to Miami, where they had to start all over again, this time from nothing.

For Pat, those early, loss-filled years instilled a fierce will to re-establish the family name—to succeed through intelligence, hard work, and pluck. Nobody could confiscate these qualities from her.

She went to Rollins, planning to become a veterinarian like her father, and ended up majoring in biology and philosophy. When she was offered a full scholarship to the Crummer Graduate School of Business, she thought about her options: four years of veterinary school, which her still-struggling parents could ill afford, or two years of business school at no cost.

It was an easy decision.

Pat, who’d always been strong in analytics and math, studied finance and international economics, which led to a post-graduation job in international banking at Manufacturers Hanover. Never one to waste time, she moved to New York City and started the job two days after commencement.

During her time with Manufacturers Hanover, Pat worked with the acquisition finance team that led to the $26 billion leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco, the largest such transaction at the time. She would later work for Mitsubishi Trust & Banking, the largest trust bank in Japan, and start a new department that invested in and managed leveraged buyouts. After seven years with Mitsubishi, Pat was lured away to Merrill Lynch, where she sold high yield loans to other financial firms.

After working with big banks for so many years, Pat felt her entrepreneurial spirit calling loudly. She’d noticed that banks closed loans with a ridiculous amount of paperwork: faxes, emails, letters, printed forms. Why not automate all that paperwork on a centralized platform via the Internet?

That question led Pat to start Trade Settlement Inc. (TSI), which offers automated loan closings for banks and their corporate clients. The business grew exponentially in its early years; by 2008, it had 50 employees and overseas offices in Dublin and London. At its peak, TSI was closing almost $20 billion of bank loans per month. Then came the 2008 financial crisis, followed by the national economic drought that continues. TSI has downsized to 15 employees and closed its European offices, but Pat has set her sights on a return to Europe. Re-establishing and rebuilding are her stock-in-trade, after all.

With only one competitor in the market, Pat stays busy working with top international banks. She’s constantly refining TSI’s products and adding new ones. TSI’s settlements on its revamped platform are performing well—after all, loans are created, traded, and resold in good times and bad.

Today, the homes Pat shares with her longtime partner, Tori Butt, do not encompass the same acreage as her parents’ former properties in Cuba, but they represent a promise she made to herself 50 years ago, a promise to set her sights sky-high, persevere, and do the Loret de Mola name proud.

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