Sheri Loulache, Collections Supervisor for Optos, has been in the credit and collections industry for over twenty years. What began as a part time job in collections while she was a pursuing her degree has led to a career that brought Sheri to companies such as Covidien and currently Optos. ABC-Amega’s Regional Manager of Business Development, Antonio Vazquez, recently spoke with Sheri about her experience as a leader in the credit and collections field.
AV: How did you get into the credit field?
SL: I started my career in the field at the age of 17 when I began working in a collections role for a medical company. I was going to school for fashion merchandising and realized that I didn’t have a passion for it. As I continued to work for the medical company, I was doing collection work, billing and cash application. After some time, I began moving up the ladder in the company. I realized that I loved the challenge of the work, so I’ve remained in the field ever since.
AV: What challenges, if any, have you faced being a women in this industry?
SL: Luckily, I haven’t faced many challenges related to my gender. There have been more positives than negatives over the course of my career, but I have left companies because there was a lack of upward mobility.
AV: How has the industry changed over the years?
SL: The biggest change is the automation. Pretty much everything is automated now. Customers can go online to pay, and even create their own monthly payment schedules. In some cases, you might never speak to someone regarding their account. It can make my job challenging, because part of the collection process is relationship building.
AV: In what ways do you feel the industry could or should improve?
SL: Piggybacking on automation, we need more communication. Every bit of data we can get on accounts is helpful. Also, providing more tools and access to the information that already exists is necessary for improvement.
AV: What are the biggest challenges you face as a credit professional?
SL: Perception. We’re often looked at as “the bad guy.” What people don’t realize is that the credit and collection department can help manage sales, and extend current client relationships. In our role, we work with customers to resolve their issues, we are here to be a benefit to both the company and the customer. Sometimes, the customer just needs someone to talk to listen. We’re here for that.
AV: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about getting into the industry?
SL: Have confidence. You can do anything you set your mind to. Communicate, make sure your voice is heard, you’ll never get anything you need if no one knows you need it.
Optos was founded in 1992 by Douglas Anderson after his young son went blind in one eye from a retinal detachment detected too late. Although his son was having regular eye exams, routine exams were uncomfortable, especially for a child, which made it impossible for the doctor to conduct a complete exam and view the entire retina. Anderson set out to commercialize a patient-friendly retinal image product that encompassed a digital widefield image of the retina in a single capture.