Ask a Leader: Interview with Hayley Chavarria

Dave Walton

Learning from a Leader: Career Development Advice

Interview with Hayley Chavarria, Manager, End-of-Lease Logistics and Brokerage at CHG-MERIDIAN USA Corp.

December 2019


Interview conducted by Garland Brooks, Sr. Advisor Business Enablement & Sales Optimization, Dell Financial Services and edited by Lexie Dressman, Assistant Vice President, Huntington Equipment Finance. 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?

In 1987, a good friend told me about the great company she worked for and how they had an opening that she thought I might be suited to fill.  I started as a clerk in the contracts department, where I learned about various terms and conditions and moved on to work in various aspects of the company – learning specs of equipment and ordering equipment; working with funding partners; facilitating investor-owned equipment and leases; navigating the employer role, heading up human resources and payroll (tax filings, payments); lease, buyout and sale pricing; auditing and refurbishing of assets to recycling; and working on corporate acquisitions.  My friend’s recommendation to join the team of El Camino Resources, Ltd. was one of the best opportunities in my life.  The company was everything she promised and more.  We truly became a family (albeit a large one with members worldwide).

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

In 2001, El Camino’s line bank had pulled its line of credit, forcing many changes in our organization – most notably, a major layoff of over 1,000 employees worldwide.  Because of the need to narrow our workforce to only the bare minimum, I was in a position where I had to prove my worth of being kept on.  This is where my 14 years of experience paid off.  A manager once told me that I was a “jack of all trades, master of none.”  At the time, I resented that comment but, in the end, my vast skillset is what set me apart from the others and made me a valuable part of our organization.  I stayed on with El Camino Resources until we were acquired by CHG-MERIDIAN in May 2009.  Again, it was my broad knowledge of leasing that made CHG keep me on board.  After working at a company that had acquired companies over the years, it was quite strange to be the company being acquired.  But as I learned, in the leasing game, you have to be prepared for anything.

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?

With CHG being a new lessor in the U.S., we were starting small and had to grow our workforce.  Being located far outside of downtown L.A., our pool of resources was quite limited.  To find people knowledgeable in leasing – much less computer leasing -- was an immense challenge.  So we were forced to build a team that needed developing.  This is where we turned to ELFA and registered every new employee in ELFA’s Principles of Leasing and Finance Workshop each year.  This workshop is a great way to provide our employees with the knowledge required to become a stronger part of our team that supports everyone from sales to accounting to contracts.  The workshop is invaluable to each employee’s growth in our industry.

Personally, I attend the ELFA Equipment Management Conference annually.  It is where I can expand my knowledge to include changes in the industry; meet new players, vendors and suppliers; as well as get a hands-on learning experience with various asset types.

What is the most rewarding risk of your career?

After being acquired by CHG, there was always the fear of being replaced by their own personnel.  Rather than succumb to that fear and jump ship, I decided to stay on board and stay the course.  Luckily, my new boss was hired from the leasing industry within the U.S. and that showed me that CHG had faith in the people of the U.S.  It was with my new boss that I learned to put any layoff fears aside and show him the value of my multiple skills.  In December 2019, I will have been with El Camino/CHG for 32 years.  I proved my strengths to the company and myself and couldn’t be happier.

If you had to pick one, which is more important when considering a hire—soft skills or a technical background? Please select only one, and please include which soft or technical skill is most beneficial to success.

Wow…both are extremely valuable but since I have to pick one, I would choose someone with a soft skills.  In today’s age, it is more important than ever to be able to effectively motivate and lead others.  I believe these skills are invaluable to any company, as the ability to promote teamwork and a strong work ethic are critical to a company’s success.  We all know that a bad attitude and poor work ethic can be a cancer to any company.

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

From my experience, I feel that the best advice to give is to be flexible in what you’re willing to do, be open to learning and doing new things, and continually prove your commitment to the team/company.  The leasing industry has changed over the years and it’s important to grow with it, if you want to stay a part of it.  I’m learning first hand the importance of making your company stand out by offering more than just leasing.  CHG has expanded its offerings to include an asset-tracking platform as well as a myriad of services.  These new aspects have expanded my knowledge and they are taking me to new levels within the organization.

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?

CHG by nature is an international company and diversity is in our DNA.  At CHG we value differences—whether related to race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion, generation, sexual orientation or political views to not only attract, but also engage, top-industry talent to drive long-term success.  There is a demographic shift in the workforce and CHG continues to find new ways to create a more dynamic workplace -- one that fosters engagement and innovation.