Michele Gerst, ABC-Amega’s Vice President of Global Outsourcing, has maintained a career in the financial industry for over 30 years, having held the positions of Director of Operations at Fiserv Lending Solutions and Vice President of Direct Banking at HSBC Bank. Michele started at ABC-Amega in 2016 in the Director of Outsourcing role and was promoted to her current position in 2018. We recently sat down with Michele to discuss her career.
Q: What is your educational background?
A: I obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Medaille College. I also consider my past 30 years in various aspects of the financial services industry to be a major source of my education as well as a continued learning experience. I am also very grateful to all my mentors who have challenged me and provided learning opportunities throughout my career!
Q: How did you get into the credit and collections industry?
A: My first job in financial services was as a Collector in the Automotive Leasing industry which I found to be really fun and exciting. Certainly no two days were ever the same and there was always a new challenge around the corner. As my career expanded into various operational areas and client management, I remained in the industry. Having the opportunity to join the ABC-Amega team allowed me to return to my original passion.
Q: What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in this industry?
A: I have been fortunate to have spent much of my career working within multi-client environments. This has provided me opportunities to gain insight into best practices, which have enhanced team performance and streamlined processes. It is extremely rewarding when we’re able to help our clients mitigate risk and improve productivity. By focusing on quality and professional customer service, the collection accounts we work today most often remain our clients and customers tomorrow.
Q: What are some strategies that you’ve used to improve collections and performance for your clients?
A: At ABC-Amega we continue to invest in our Quality Assurance & Training team and programs. We spend time compiling and analyzing data to gain insight into performance best practices, which also leads to new and enhanced training programs, a key driver for improved production and results.
ABC-Amega also utilizes technology to complete speech analytics on telephone calls for quality and performance analysis. This technology supports our quality assurance initiatives to increase the volume of calls reviewed and scored to ensure client specific call requirements are being met.
Q: What techniques do you use to motivate your employees?
A: I always believe in a personal approach, which in a hybrid working location model has presented new challenges. At ABC-Amega we offer a work-on-site, work-from-home, or a flexible blended model to our team members. Knowing your team members and what makes them happy to “come to work every day” is important. It is important to hold regular team meetings which in addition to work related items, take the time for open discussion and other team participation. We have a recognition program based on performance that acknowledges efforts. Additionally we incorporate fun conversations and fun contests which get people speaking and just laughing with each other.
I also find that for some people, they are best motivated when you show your appreciation for them and for their efforts. Small gestures can go a long way, from a hand written note, to saying thank you for great work on an account, or even just taking the time to say good morning. Motivation is not a one-size fits all and although a hybrid work environment adds a little complexity, just letting people know you are happy they are part of the team can go a long way in making them feel good about the work they’re doing each day.
A: I believe in a personal approach. Knowing your team members and what makes them happy to come to work every day is important. We have a recognition program based on performance that acknowledges effort, however, some teams also enjoy fun contests.
I also find that for some people, they are best motivated when you show your appreciation for them and for their efforts. Small gestures can go a long way, from a hand written note, to saying thank you for great work on an account, or even just taking the time to walk around to say good morning.
Letting them know that you are happy that they are part of the team can go a long way in making them feel good about the work they’re doing each day.
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?
In this industry or really any industry, leaders always put your best foot forward. Be professional and ethical, own and learn from your mistakes. Care about the people you work with, the clients you work for, and about the quality of the results achieved.
A great mentor told me two things I keep with me always: Leaders need to do the right thing to make the right things happen. Make sure you have the right people in the right roles with the right support. And never approach a situation thinking you know everything there is to know – always keep learning.
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