Name: Ted Hoffman
Title: Senior Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
Company: Radian Group, Inc.
Firm Background: Ted was a summer associate in 1999 and an associate in the corporate department of the Philadelphia office from 2000 – 2005.
When someone takes on a senior leadership role in any organization, under any circumstances, they expect a challenge. But few have experienced a baptism by fire quite like former Faegre Drinker corporate associate Ted Hoffman.
After five years at Faegre Drinker, in 2005, Ted left his post for an in-house role as SEC counsel at Radian, a NYSE traded mortgage and real estate company. By 2008, the financial crisis had upended the housing market and sent shockwaves through Radian — and Ted was appointed general counsel.
“I was appointed to the general counsel seat in the deep depths of the financial crisis,” Ted said. “I was in my early 30s and I hadn’t had a significant career ramp culminating in that role. Taking that job at that time, grabbing it, running with it and learning on my feet, really was a career-defining period for me.”
Fortunately for Ted, he was not alone. He had built relationships with various colleagues at Faegre Drinker’s predecessor firm Drinker Biddle & Reath and could count on his mentor Doug Raymond, the leader of the firm’s corporate group at the time who also served as Radian’s outside counsel, for support.
“Doug was always a mentor in my mind, both with respect to how he led the corporate team and then working with him at Radian,” Ted said. “It was especially good to have Doug and my other former colleagues supporting Radian and me personally during [the financial crisis], and being able to work with Doug and others for so long has been one of the great benefits to me in my career. They truly are an important part of our Radian team and family.”
After what Ted referred to as “five years of largely righting the ship and getting us back to a point of normalcy and profitability,” Ted and Radian weathered the storm of the financial crisis, eventually selling its financial guaranty business and laying plans to grow its mortgage insurance business and diversifying into real estate services. And in the years since, his role has evolved to include executive oversight of various core functions, including HR, government relations, information security and enterprise risk management, while also overseeing a legal department of 20+ professionals.
Ted attributes some of his ability to gracefully juggle so many responsibilities to his time at Drinker.
“I know there are more entrance points to legal careers today, but I still believe large firms provide the best training ground. Drinker did a really great job at providing on-the-job experience and client exposure,” Ted said. “You learned relatively quickly that there isn’t a manual to follow and that two things are most important: first, there is no substitute for hard work and, second, being a trusted, likeable person is an important part of your work product. Get these right and most everything else will fall in place. I don’t think I’ve ever lost sight of this.”
Having gained insight into so many foundational aspects of Radian’s operations, Ted stresses that one thing matters above all.
“The thing that I’ve come to learn and appreciate is just how much people matter, and how much being genuine matters to success,” Ted said. “At the end of the day, people want to be valued. They want meaningful work in an environment where they can feel comfortable contributing passionately towards a common mission. They want to be themselves, but as part of a great team. Create this culture and you are going to win.”
According to Ted, COVID-19 brought the importance of a healthy company culture into full relief.
“For almost all companies, the pandemic highlighted the importance of human capital management,” Ted said. “For us, it accelerated a path that we were already on, in terms of being very thoughtful about our people, including what motivates them and what makes them successful. It also underscored the importance of mental wellbeing in terms of success in the workplace.”
Ted also believes the pandemic underscored the need for great communication within the workplace and prompted Radian to adopt changes that he believes will outlast the pandemic.
“We really ramped up our employee outreach and started a weekly message from our CEO to the entire company in which we were open about what was going on within Radian and beyond and the importance of remaining connected and sharing concerns. We have kept this up even as the pandemic has receded, and it remains a primary communication flow for us as we continue to lean into becoming an even more transparent, open and responsive company.”
Having learned to lead through a financial crisis and a global pandemic, Ted is a big believer in keeping a steady grip on the wheel when it otherwise can be tempting to “run around like a dog chasing a laser pointer.”
“You need to stay in the present, but also keep a focus on the bigger picture,” Ted said. “There’s so much information coming at you on any given day, and things change so rapidly, but you can’t change your horizon every minute. You need to have a lighthouse, a North Star to work towards, and stay steady and on pace, tacking here and there, but always advancing to that point,” Ted said. “That’s the hardest thing to do, and the most valuable thing to get right.”
Getting that thing right requires a strong and healthy culture working together toward a shared goal.
“As a mortgage and real estate company, we like to say that we ‘ensure the American dream.’ We help people who otherwise can’t afford to get into homes become homeowners,” Ted said. “Working with a great team, it’s extremely rewarding to come to work and focus on that mission every day.”