When did you first join the equipment finance industry and what has been the trajectory of your career?
I started my career in finance and financial operations approximately 30 years ago, mostly focused on credit, collections, and risk management. As I gained experience and expertise, I also led a few corporate finance projects (Voice of the Customer, Receivables/Payables for ERP System Implementation, and Integration of Customer Receivables and Credit/Collections Department). About 15 years ago, I helped launch the captive finance arm for a large technology distributor. Today, with Tech Data Capital, I continue to grow and build finance solutions for the technology industry.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your own professional development? How did you overcome it?
I would have to say that time management is my biggest challenge. There never seems to be enough hours in the day, especially with all the Zoom meetings these days. Someone once told me, “To be efficient, you need to carve your day into 15-minute increments.” While I am not always successful, I do spend a few minutes at the beginning and end of the day to prepare for what’s ahead.
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 got involved right out of the gates at the start of my career. It has always been a terrific resource for education and industry information. The ELFA conferences are second to none in terms of networking and exchanging ideas with others in the industry. It is truly something I look forward to each year.
What is the most rewarding risk of your career?
Not being afraid to fail. It is probably cliché these days, but I have learned more (and faster) from my failures than my successes. I tend to live on 80% of the information needed to make a decision and trust my instincts from there.
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.
The two together are a powerful combination, but if I had to choose, I would take soft skills over technical. If you can find an employee that has a solid work ethic and the right attitude, you can teach them anything.
What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would give to someone just entering the industry?
- Establish a mentor relationship: Everyone needs a place to go where they can seek advice and gain perspective. No one person knows everything.
- Establish an “always be learning” mindset: Don’t settle for “this is how we do it.” Ask why. Be a detective. You will find that you naturally become a problem solver. Companies need problem solvers.
- Don’t forget to take time to enjoy life. It’s easy to get caught up in the work. Time goes by fast. Be sure to take time to enjoy those around you that matter most.
Given that 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 done or is doing to promote diversity and inclusion?
Tech Data is very focused on D&I, expanding our efforts to include “Equity” as well. We have regional DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) councils and resource groups for women, veterans, LGBTQ+, and different racial affinities. We believe that the more diverse your workforce, the more voices (ideas/creativity) you have and the stronger you are as a company. If you are truly going to focus on DEI, you have to create an environment where people of all backgrounds feel valued. Tech Data is active in supporting DEI in the industry and the community. We are engaged in industry professional groups such as “Women in Technology” and partner with many non-profit organizations.