Ask a Leader: Interview with Danielle Waterworth

DanielleWaterworth_249x319

Learning from a Leader: Career Development Advice

Interview with Danielle Waterworth, Senior Director, North American Aftermarket Solutions Commercial Sales, CNH Industrial


AUGUST 2019

ETAC_horizontal

Interview conducted by Lexie Dressman, Assistant Vice President, Huntington Equipment Finance and edited by Alyssa Hermann, Portfolio Manager-Commercial Lending at Presidential Bank. Both are members of the ELFA Emerging Talent Advisory Council. Learn more about this interview series.

When did you first join the equipment financing industry and what has been the trajectory of your career?

My experience with ELFA began in 2016 when my boss, Brett Davis, came back to lead CNH Industrial Capital for North America and suggested Capital join ELFA. Along with joining the organization, I became involved with the Women’s Council. This is my second year sitting on the Council, and the experience has been fun because we’re involved with the development of a mission and vision for a mentoring program.

As far as career trajectory, I am one of those people who earned a degree in a field that is perfectly aligned with my work experience.

I grew up on a farm and majored in agricultural finance. I got my degree and, from there, spent a year with a commercial lending relationship bank in the Chicago suburbs. Outside of that experience, I’ve been with CNH Industrial Capital for 16 years, supporting the equipment financing industry. I had an internship with the company while I was in college and wanted to come back.

During my time with Capital, I’ve done everything from retail underwriting to wholesale underwriting, from relationship management and portfolio management of wholesale lines to the Manager of Special Assets.  These were all great experiences that varied every day. From there, I became the Director of Commercial Lending Operations, overseeing audit and operations, and then three years ago I took on Asset Remarketing and Leasing, which is completely outside of my wheelhouse. Since sitting for this interview, I have now moved from Capital into CNH Industrial’s Aftermarket Solutions organization, leading its Commercial Ag Sales organization.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your own professional development? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge has been differentiating the needs of an organization as I’ve risen to different levels of leadership. As an individual contributor, and even in those first levels of management, you’re a contributor to the team to keep the engine running. As you keep moving up, it’s less about the day-to-day tasks and more about strategy, leadership and the long-term growth of your group.  CNH Industrial Capital has been great because, when I took that first leap to a Director, I was assigned an executive coach to assist with the learning process. I think it’s important to learn what the expectations are of your role and how to best interact, and I think continuous learning is important because it always keeps us engaged.

When did you first get involved with ELFA and how have you been engaged as a member thus far? How has being in ELFA helped your career?

I attribute my involvement to Brett [Davis] because of his leadership. I’ve always been a member of boards and committees but more in the agriculture industry. ELFA was my first exposure to a finance industry board. Brett got me involved with the Women’s Council and it has provided a perspective of women in our industry. I’ve enjoyed the past couple years of the Women’s Leadership Forum, especially working on the potential development of a mentoring program. I’ve met women in our industry and learned from their perspectives. It’s always good to listen and you can learn a lot from the experience of others.

What is the most rewarding risk of your career?

I have taken a couple of positions and thought, “Oh my gosh, am I crazy for doing this?” because the role has been outside of my wheelhouse. These roles have ended up being rewarding because they’ve fulfilled the need to constantly challenging myself to learn, try new things and accomplish things I never imagined were possible.  I’ve been lucky enough to experience this a couple times with roles that were big risks.  You just try and see if it will work out. If it’s not scary, it’s probably not worth doing.

If you had to pick one, which is more important when considering a hire—a soft or technical background? You can’t pick both, and please include which soft or technical skill is most beneficial to success.

I feel like most of the technical stuff in our industry you can teach if you’re teachable. So soft skills are more important. The couple that really play to me are adaptability and work ethic. You must be curious and open-minded. Adaptable to me means you’ve got a little bit of self-motivation to be flexible and to figure things out as you go. And you can’t teach work ethic. I’ve had interns for the last 10 years and they have different experiences.  But those interns who come in and work hard, that is ingrained from when they are little. Being a hard worker requires discipline and responsibility. Those are the kind of qualities you can’t teach. Those qualities shape you, dictate what is important to you and what your values are and they actually translate into how you lead.  These are the traits I look for in my teams. I need strong leaders on my teams because I need them to be engaged and ready for anything.

What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would give to someone just entering the industry?

First, I would say be informed. Read articles about the industry or things that are related to the industry. This is something that, quite honestly, I only started doing about five years ago. I relied a lot on my background and how I grew up. Think about what leadership articles are out there or what industry articles are out there through resources like the ELFA.  Once I started reading and learning about what was going on in related industries, I felt like I brought better ideas to my organization and started connecting the dots between how it all works. There is this daily email I get that is related to the agriculture industry and they have articles about technology and other things going on in the business. I share that with my team because it makes us all better.

Second, find a mentor or two.  The mentorship doesn’t have to be anything formal. It can just be people that are stakeholders in you. I’ve had both formal and informal mentors. They can help guide you in making better decisions early on and working through all of the things you experience when you begin any kind of job or role.  

Third, I would say explore opportunities to get involved, whether they are in your company or outside industries like non-profit boards. I think you learn a lot from being on project teams. You do your day-to-day tasks but, when you are on project teams or boards, your vantage point expands. You also meet different people, which is good from a networking perspective.

Given that the ELFA recently updated its mission statement and strategic plan to affirm its commitment to diversity and inclusion, can you give some perspective on what your organization has or is doing to promote diversity and inclusion?

I have a different opinion than some because I don’t feel like I’m treated any differently because I am a woman.  I am here because I work hard.  It’s an exciting time to be a woman in our industry because a lot of business leaders, especially those at CNH Industrial Capital, are supportive of people with different perspectives. They like the diversity because they get different perspectives, people who think differently and lead with different styles. To me, diversity can mean a lot. I think when you seek out people who are different than you, better ideas come. You don’t always need people that think the same way or agree constantly.  Having a different perspective is good for the overall product that you deliver.