Skip to Main Content
Close Search Box

Credit Q&A - Elizabeth Condino

Customer Accounting Manager, Lear Mexican Seating

What is your background?   I have been in business credit for the automotive business most of my career, starting in collections, training in credit, and eventually moving into management. I graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with a degree in Political Science with a focus on international politics and a minor in psychology, which meant I was broke and unemployed. Eventually, I went back to get my M.B.A. in Management from Oakland University. My designations include (NACM’s C.B.A., FCIB’s CICP, and America’s Society of Quality’s Green Belt CSSGB). I have supervised or managed credit for companies that have touched all parts of the car – powertrain, chassis, micro motors, and interiors – for global companies headquartered in the U.S., China, and Japan.

How did you first enter the field of Credit? My first real job was with a subsidiary of IBM which had just purchased a telecom company out of California that created the automated attendant and voicemail. I had started out as a temporary in collections and then hired full time to review contracts and job packages for new accounts. When the company was sold to Siemens and my branch was closing, I was offered a job that paid very little in California. I had just started dating my now husband who I had met at work and decided to stick it out in Detroit. With my collections experience, I was hired by Federal-Mogul in Southfield which had large credit group where I was in Aftermarket credit for years, before moving into the Original Equipment Manufacturers side. I hate to admit it, but I got hooked on fixing problems and working with money.

What is your job title and what are your responsibilities? I am the Customer Accounting Manager for Lear Mexican Seating, which is part of Lear Corporation’s leather division. Essentially, I manage a team that handles the Accounts Receivable including billing, disputes, accounting for the sub ledger, AR forecast, and audit readiness. Since leather is a commodity, accounting for price can be complicated and regulations are followed closely.

Can you describe your typical day? Days fall into more of a monthly cycle. My team and I start each month with closing the accounting period, which includes general ledger reconciliations, journal entries, and reporting. If all goes well, the activities take a week, though it may take longer during fiscal quarter and year-end. That can be tough since our manufacturing plants, commercial teams, corporate groups, and customers have regular questions and order releases. The next week of the month is catch up, weekly report updates, team meetings, aging reviewing, and bill correction processes. Our data for each piece of leather on a vehicle’s seat can be large, which means research into customer issues is detailed. A great deal of time is spent in Microsoft Excel, Access, and downloading system reports. Prepping for month end includes approving billing cutoffs and working with other Lear intercompany divisions.

What would you say are your greatest accomplishments in this industry? My greatest accomplishments have just been helping my employers through challenging times. In one situation, a large automotive supplier owed the company I worked for millions in past due accounts. My employer was foreign and far away from the local credit group discussions. I knew suppliers were nervously awaiting an impending bankruptcy with little hope of recovery. At the time, I was getting calls from a financing company working in credit default swaps and I began researching how that could help mitigate potential risks. I presented credit default swaps as a solution, and my Treasurer implemented the idea through our bank prior to the bankruptcy filing. Through that experience, I learned everyone has an impact to profitability and listening to your peers in credit groups can help navigate potentially costly situations. The industry will always have changes, such as re-engineering, downsizing, acquisitions, re-alignments, bankruptcies, recessions, and pandemic playbooks. Companies, no matter what size or culture, have constant challenges and any accomplishment I have is momentary.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I hope to be in a position where I continue help make good decisions for my company. I would like to continue growing my data management skills to speed up response on issues to get payments faster. Exciting changes are happening in global finance, and I am curious how new potential models will work. Of course, I still have a social scientist’s global view and El Salvador adopting bitcoin as their currency is a great test of how import/export might be successfully managed. Ethereum may have the ability to create contracts that help the traceability of receipts, but I am still learning. I would love to be five years out and working daily with Artificial Intelligence models that make forecasting easier and improving DSO.

What advice would you give someone thinking of entering the field? Keep learning and seeking out aspects of your job that interests you while exposing problems that your company needs to correct. There is always an aspect of the job that is not pleasant, but find the part that you enjoy the most. For example, credit may be changing in the coming years with AI and having exposure to programming languages or certifications will be just as important as your people skills. If you are on the front line of credit and collections, a credit group will not only help hone your skills but, it can also be the only place where your frustrations, failures, and successes are most understood.

If you weren’t working in credit, what do you think you’d be doing career-wise?  I probably would be writing about social issues somewhere or getting an ulcer working in Congress.  Maybe both. I guess I believe in change and chances are I would have been discussing managing money somewhere.

If you enjoyed this interview, check out these other ones below!