When did you first join the equipment finance industry and what has been the trajectory of your career?
I joined equipment finance in 2000 after spending the first half of my career in the legal field where I managed paralegal and support staff for a large legal department as well as managed the corporate secretary function for over 30 companies in the US and Europe. My first position in equipment finance was as funding manager for American Express Business Finance, followed by growing levels of responsibility at MeriCap Credit and TCF Inventory Finance. Almost 10 years ago, I joined ENGS as the Vice President of Operations as part of the new management team and led consolidation of the operation process from California to Illinois. As the company expanded over the years into other equipment verticals, acquisitions and product offers, in 2018 I was promoted to Senior Vice President of Operations at ENGS Commercial Finance. The majority of my career in the industry has been as a member of various leadership teams and a contributor to the success achieved over the last more than 20 years.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your own professional development? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I have had in my professional development has been driving efficiencies without making sacrifices in the procedures and guidelines of the contract documentation and funding process. To be successful and to set up my team to be successful, meant that I had to adapt, learn and lead the charge in being proficient and comfortable with technology advancements. One of my first challenges, which sounds funny and simple today, was transitioning from merging word documents to implementing a leasing system that would fully auto populate contact documents. Technology and the digitization of how companies do business today require discipline and being open to change. I have adapted and been successful at this through self-determination, preservation and embracing continuous improvement and learning.
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 have worked for ELFA member companies at and prior to ENGS. Over the years, I have attended the Operations & Technology Conferences and gained great insights and enjoyed the networking opportunities with friends and colleagues from around the industry. The Women’s Leadership Forum in April is an event that I am really looking forward to attending along with other influential women from ENGS. Additionally, I plan to have members of my staff attend and participate in ELFA events to enhance their personal development and network. Also, ELFA has been a great source of information and expertise as we navigate topics such as sales taxes, UCC changes, legal regulations, etc.
What is the most rewarding risk of your career to date?
When I made the leap of leaving the legal industry and pursuing a career in the equipment finance industry. This decision has paid off and given me the chance to expand personally and professionally, embark on cutting-edge technology, and experience an exciting and dynamic industry.
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.
Of course, there is always a healthy balance; however, the technical skill set and background in an operations function is critical and very important. The understanding of how the equipment finance industry works, legal implications of critical contractual elements (e.g., proper signor), Title/UCC laws, etc. contributes to faster onboarding and higher levels of customer satisfaction.
What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would give to someone just entering the industry?
- Agility is key. Being able to pivot into the changing industry requirements/technological improvements will allow you to flourish in your role and be ready to grow into new opportunities
- From a woman’s perspective, being able to navigate situations and be a little more formidable in having conversations with a mostly male dominated industry such as learning how to take credit for your ideas appropriately.
- Always try to understand how your actions will affect the rest of the enterprise. By having a broader knowledge of the processes before/after you, potential issues can be avoided.
Given ELFA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, can you give some perspective on what your organization has done or is doing to promote diversity and inclusion?
ENGS continues to strive for diversity and inclusion throughout the organization. The organization prides itself on being awarded a Top Workplaces in Chicago for three of the last four years. Additionally, ENGS is proud to have women in key leadership positions and many others who are in significant contributing roles within the organization.