Jackie Mulligan, North American Credit Operations Manager at Procter and Gamble (P&G), initially aspired to be a business educator, but as it turned out, she ended up taking a position in credit operations at Procter & Gamble. Jackie’s “mulligan” has led her to a successful career in credit where she is recognized as a leader in the industry, having been with P&G for over 25 years, and having served on several boards of trustees, including her current seat on the board of the Credit Research Foundation.
ABC-Amega’s Senior Vice President of Business Development, Domenic Di Loreto, recently spoke with Jackie about her experience as a female leader in the historically male-dominated field of credit and collections.
DD: How did you get into the credit field?
JM: I got into credit by accident really. When I graduated from Indiana State, business teachers were losing their jobs, because enrollment in business classes was down. After an unsuccessful attempt at finding a teaching job, I decided to apply at Procter & Gamble with the hope that my business degree would get me in the door, and it did! My first job within Procter & Gamble was in the credit operations department doing credit assessments and financial analysis and some collection work.
DD: What challenges, if any, have you faced being a woman in this industry?
JM: I have never experienced any significant hurdles from being a female. I believe that some of the women in the field before me may have helped pave the way. Not all obstacles were cleared in the early 90’s when I began, but by the time I got into industry groups and moved up in the company, my gender was never an issue. I also feel that working for a large, well respected company helps, where if I was with a smaller company’s credit department, I might not have had the same experience.
DD: Are there any programs or initiatives dedicated to bringing more women into the field?
JM: I’m not involved in anything formal. However, my team at P&G is made up entirely of women. We love working with each other, and we all work well together…we’re like best friends. My team is willing to help each other, and it makes our culture great. I advocate for women inside and out of my organization. If there are open seats on any of the boards I sit on, I always suggest we look at women candidates.
DD: How has the industry changed over the years?
JM: The biggest change has been the technology. When I began my career, 10 people shared 1 computer, we used carbon paper and fax machines…technology has changed a ton! Also, office culture has transformed. Employees are working flexible hours, some from home, and dress codes have shifted from blazers and dresses to much more casual dress. The work itself, however, hasn’t changed. What matters is what’s coming in and what’s going out, the fundamentals remain the same.
DD: What advice would you give, particularly to women, thinking about getting into the credit industry?
JM: Pursue a degree in accounting or finance. When you graduate, and get your first role in the credit field, leverage credit industry groups. Become a member of the groups and obtain as much education as you can early in your career. These groups are where you will really get your education in Credit & A/R. When you go to meetings, sit at the table, don’t take a seat in the back, step up and lead. Also, when I speak with women, I remind them to be confident in their ability and let it show, without being arrogant. Confidence is important as you manage up in your line, mange your staff, and work externally.
ABOUT Procter & Gamble:
Founded in 1837, Procter & Gamble, also known as P&G, is an American multi-national consumer goods corporation headquartered in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.