Amy Tolland, AR Manager of North America at Dana Incorporated, shares her experiences and thoughts on her career in the credit and collections industry.
What is Your background?
I have 26 years of corporate experience in building materials, glass containers, and automotive. My talents are well-rounded. I began my career in customer service, became an SAP subject matter expert, and was promoted to management. I then moved to marketing communications, where I developed numerous technical documents, trade shows, and retail signage and plans. I changed companies and worked on a global SAP design and implementation team, where I developed processes, designed the system, and trained numerous global departments. After the implementation, I moved into cash management and supervised the AP and AR departments and forecasted cash flow. I am now at my third large corporation, where I manage AR cash application, collections and credit for North America. My journey has not the traditional progression, but I am very proud of my experiences and the fact that I have knowledge in so many different facets of large corporations.
How did you first enter the field of credit & collections?
It was a bit of fate to be honest. After the SAP implementation was complete, the company was putting together a shared services organization. With my many experiences and varied knowledge, the director felt I would be a good fit to lead the cash management processes. It was a new realm for me, but I was up for the challenge.
What is your job title and what are your responsibilities?
I am the AR Manager of North America. My team handles all cash application, collections, credit, and reporting for the US, Canada and parts of Mexico.
Can you describe your typical day?
I am not sure there is really a typical day. Every day seems to bring a new issue or opportunity to the forefront. We are dealing with an ever-changing economy that leads to companies looking to AR to help improve all aspects of cash flow. I am either digging into reserves to figure out what we can clear up, researching disputes to find root causes, or working with the business to restructure terms and payment schedules to name a few.
What would you say are your greatest accomplishments in this industry?
On a tactical front, since starting at Dana I have been able to reduce past due to under 2% and have kept it under that metric each month for the last year. I have worked closely with my team to automate several processes using robotics and other process improvements. Being promoted from collections team lead to AR manager has been an achievement I am very proud of, as well. I pride myself on hard work, accelerated learning and experience. Over my career, these have helped me become well rounded and to be seen as an asset to the companies for which I have worked.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
AR at Dana is a part of a shared services organization. In 5 years I see myself either in the same role continually improving processes and metrics or possibly leading another department such as AP.
What advice would you give someone thinking of entering the field?
Most people entering the field have an accounting or finance background. I do not, I have years of varied corporate experience and am a quick study. Having a financial background definitely helps, but I feel is not always necessary.
In today’s environment the field is ever changing. The focus in AR and credit is moving toward slicing and dicing data, automating processes, keeping up with industry issues and answering the multitudes of forecasting and reporting questions. You must be able to go with the flow and be able to change focus at any given time. Companies look to AR to provide the data and results that drive company’s cash flow. Sometimes I feel like juggling should be added to my resume as an expertise.
If you weren’t working in credit, what do you think you’d be doing career-wise?
This is a tough question. With my varied experience, I feel I could be an asset to so many corporate departments. I definitely see myself finishing out my career in a large corporation and I am always open to learning something new.