ELFA - Equipment Leasing and Finance Association - Equipping Business for Success

Women's Spotlight

This Q&A series is brought to you by the ELFA Women’s Council

Sharon McGarvey

Director of Business Development

Women's Spotlight: Sharon McGarvey

What different roles have you held throughout your career?

I have held many different roles throughout my career! My professional journey began with a Third-party logistics (3PL) family-owned company. I started in an administrative role in the freight payment department, moved up through intermodal operations and was eventually tasked with building a new department focused on lead generation for the sales and marketing group. This role involved significant marketing, operations, and internal project management, including agency liaisons, involvement in systems implementations, program development, execution, and management.

Ten years ago, I transitioned from what I thought would be a lifelong career in the hospitality industry. In fact, I still dream of being a silent partner in a restaurant someday! I wanted to return to a client and industry-facing environment, so I began to pursue opportunities in sales and business development. In 2019, I joined Jim Humphrey’s sales team at Odessa. I am forever grateful for his leadership, influence, and support. Earlier this year, I was thrilled to join the team at Syndifi as the Director of Business Development.

What traits have made you successful in the various roles you have had?

Early in my career, a CEO pointed out to me three specific traits that I believe have contributed to my success: curiosity, grit, and discernment. I believe these traits have not only made me successful but are particularly essential in an enterprise technology sales role. I strive to remain authentic in everything I do as I believe a strong foundation of trust breeds success with both colleagues and clients.

Where do you envision your future self?

I envision myself continually gathering new tools and experiences rather than arriving at a particular finish line. My ultimate professional goal is to make meaningful contributions to the evolution of the equipment finance industry. I believe that the SaaS (Software as a Service) provider space offers an excellent environment for this. In my personal life, I envision myself getting my children through college and then eventually dedicating time to mentoring and developing mentorship programs in the nonprofit space.

What is the biggest challenge, either personally or professionally, you have had to overcome? What did you learn from the experience?

My biggest challenge professionally has been to work through the presentation of my soft and technical skills. My education and career path have not been linear; however, I’ve been motivated to seek out (and have been very fortunate to encounter) many mentors and growth opportunities along my work journey. For years, I relied on my soft skills (curiosity and grit) to uncover and earn the opportunities to develop technical skills. However, I have found that always leading with soft skills can sometimes be perceived as a mask for inefficiency. As a service provider, it is crucial to connect and communicate with various stakeholders, addressing many different manners. I have learned to discern when to lead with numbers versus vision, which has enhanced my ability to navigate professional interactions effectively.

What’s your mantra and why?

My staple affirmation is, “I positively impact all I am connected to.” I journal several times a week, if not daily. I try to stay true to my mantra because this broad statement encompasses every person, interaction, relationship, initiative, deal, and environment I am involved with in my life.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

My upbringing was split between a traditional nuclear family and a multigenerational household. I am technically a first-generation American on my mother’s side. Both sides of my family primarily worked in blue-collar roles in roofing and carpentry. From a young age, my family instilled me with a strong focus on family and hard work, values that have stayed with me my entire life. I am thankful and proud of them both. I have two incredible children: Kayla (Kaz) age 14 and Felicity (Fifi) age 4. I also couldn’t ask for a better partner than my husband of almost eight years, Brian Young.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?

I am motivated by making a difference and setting an example of success for my children.

In the earlier part of my career, I was unaware of what could be attainable in my career path. I am glad I chose courage and embraced growth opportunities because this led me to my current role with Syndifi. I wake up every day excited to make an impact for not only Syndifi, but my family’s future as well. I want my kids to see what those efforts look like and know that success is attainable for them too.

Where’s your favorite place in the world?

My favorite place in the world is Petasos Beach Resort in Mykonos, Greece.

What is one of your most rewarding work experiences?

I have 3!

  1. The collective experience of applying, being accepted to and serving on the ELFA’s Emerging Talent Advisory Council. The most gratifying moments were planning and executing the 2022 and 2023 Emergence Conferences. Collaborating with industry peers and developing strong relationships at this stage of my career in equipment finance has been invaluable. I am now part of a community dedicated to progressing the industry and finding ways to work together for the mutual benefit of our respective businesses.
  2. My role with Syndifi is incredibly rewarding, even after only 5 months. To be able to work with an industry visionary such as Dan Michalek, one of the founders of Paynet, and alongside Alistair Canal, one of the most dedicated and effective leaders I’ve met, is absolutely invigorating. It is exciting to be a part of something transformative and I’m proud of the technology we’re providing in the syndications space.
  3. Participating in the ELFA Women’s Council and ELFA ETAC/Board Member mentorship programs has been undeniably rewarding work. High caliber leaders and executives openly sharing their time, ear and influence is simply not something you see in every industry. I have been fortunate to have the support of some of our community’s most accomplished individuals during some transformative times in my career in equipment finance. I would like to send a huge thanks to both of my mentors, Deb Baker and Martina Rider Porter, for their presence and active participation in this part of my career journey.

Interview and editing by: Leigh Fagan, SVP & Controller at McKinley Scientific, LLC.
Visit the Women’s Leadership page for additional resources from the ELFA Women’s Council.