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Knowing the Why Behind the How

Virginia Sheflin, ABC-Amega’s Vice President of Outsourcing, has maintained a career in the financial industry for over 15 years, having held positions at Citizens Bank (formerly Charter One Bank) , Greater Buffalo Savings Bank, First Niagara Bank, and Fiserv Lending Solutions. Virginia started at ABC-Amega in 2017 in the First Party Manager role and was promoted to her current position in 2020.  We recently sat down with Virginia to discuss her career.

 

Q: What is your educational background?

A: I studied advertising, photography and desktop publishing at a small college in Utica, NY where I obtained dual Associates degrees. From there I transferred to SUNY Brockport to finish my Bachelors in Communications.

My goal was to work in an advertising agency and was fortunate to intern at a firm in Rochester, NY. After I finished college and began looking for work, my path led me down a different road.

Q: How did you get into the credit and collections industry?

A: You could say it was a progression of events starting with my entry in to the banking world with Charter One. From there, between job changes, promotions and multiple bank mergers and acquisitions, I was fortunate to explore many areas from operations to sales. I then had an opportunity to join Fiserv as the Manager of the Cash Management Department. While the auto finance industry was new to me, the operations and cash aspects were second nature. All of my past roles provided a solid foundation, which ultimately led me to ABC-Amega.

Q: What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in this industry?

A: Seeing our clients improve their cash flow, decrease their aging and improve customer service levels is what we’re here for, but it’s also a great accomplishment to achieve. Each client has a different need or focus and working in a multi-client environment enables me to have a sightline within various industries. I can also pull from all of my experiences, including those outside of the credit field, to benefit our clients.

Q: What are some strategies that you’ve used to improve collections and performance for your clients?

A: For many years I’ve used the motto of “do you know the ‘why’ behind the ‘how’?”. Teaching someone how to do something does not help them understand why they are doing it or why it is important. This supports employee development, productivity and overall performance for the team and our clients. I also utilize other tools and resources from Quality Assurance reporting and production tracking to help us meet our client needs. Working with the mindset of ‘treating the debt as your own’ helps empower the team to find ways to go above and beyond to support the client and help their customer.

Q: What techniques do you use to motivate your employees?

A: I am super competitive and love a friendly game or contest. Adding the element of a game as you’re working to meet a goal, helps to get people excited and engaged. I’ve used interactive games such as bowling or connect four, or displays with pictures tracking progress with various themes, as well as pop-up contests such as a daily bingo.

I also know that to create an engaged and positive team, you have to display and embody those qualities as well. Sometimes encouragement and a you-can-do-it message can help redirect an employee’s focus and give them the boost they may need.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about getting into this industry, or currently working in the industry, and looking to grow as a leader?

A: Never stop learning! This applies to any field or industry, but it is so important. Learn from everyone you encounter and each task you take on. Continue to grow while remaining receptive to change and challenges.