Making sure something is done exactly right -- getting the i's dotted and t's crossed -- gives Philadelphia administrator Keith Conrad tremendous satisfaction.
"I'm a very organized person," said Conrad. "I stick to what I'm doing until I get the job done."
Until July, Conrad worked for the city of Philadelphia's Office of Housing and Community Development as upper-grade administrative assistant. Prior to that, he had been an administrative services supervisor in the same department. Before that he worked for the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia and before that a well-known Philadelphia bank.
What all the jobs had in common was involvement in housing and mortgages. That's why, in some ways, it's ironic that Conrad is out of work. Many economists attribute the current downturn to problems with bad and bundled mortgages. Probably, if Conrad would have been in any kind of position to work those deals, the mess wouldn't have happened. He would have simply been too conscientious to allow it. But his government work had nothing to do with what happened in the private sector and his job didn't end directly because of the mess in the housing industry.
Instead, the problems rippled through the economy, ultimately affecting tax revenues. As tax revenues dried up, governments began to lay off, with the largest layoffs at state and municipal levels.
Before he landed in government in 1996, Conrad worked at Corestates Bank, now Wells Fargo. His job involved mortgage administration. "At that time," he said, "there were a lot of mortgage refinances." A problem was keeping track of the mortgage companies as they changed names, which they did frequently. He developed a system that allowed him to process 50 mortgages in an hour instead of 15. He also recommended a change in the documentation that resulted in fewer forms to sign, thus saving paper and manpower.
Conrad said that he gained particular pleasure in helping people who had paid off their mortgages but didn't know how to get that fact recorded. "They were proud that they had finished their payments, but they didn't know what to do."
These days, he wonders how people will ever be able to afford homes. "Everyone should be able to have affordable housing," he said. "Who can afford a $300,000 home? I can't. And now some of the homeless shelters are closed. You see so many people out on the street."
Conrad hopes he can get another job that puts his organizational and project managing abilities to good use -- maybe in housing, maybe in human resources. "I love to work," he said. "I can't stand having nothing to do."
- Keith A. Conrad
- Hometown: Philadelphia.
- Profession: Administrator
- Experience: Acted as a liaison among departments, oversaw contracts, developed work standards and procedures, administered petty cash. Supervised staff. Communicated with others concerning facilities issues. Handled research projects. Serviced mortgages for government agencies and for a bank. Handled home improvement loans, documentation, record-keeping. Various office software expertise.
- Education: La Salle University, bachelor's degree in political science. Penn State University, paralegal certificate.
- E-mail address: email@example.com
- Keith Conrad's resume
Update: As of December, 2011, Conrad is still looking for work.
Read past profiles in the Looking for Work series. They appear here on Friday.
Read my Jobbing blog for workplace news and views.
The Inquirer is not endorsing this individual as a job candidate; potential employers should do their own background checks.
Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or firstname.lastname@example.org.