As Vice President and Managing Director of ABC-Amega’s International business unit, Riki-Lee is responsible for the development of new business opportunities with prospective and existing international clients, and oversees international operations. With 15 years of industry experience, her previous roles at ABC-Amega include time as the Director of Sales and Service, and the Director of Global Customer Care. Riki-Lee also manages ABC-Amega’s Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. We recently sat down with Riki-Lee to discuss her career.
Q: What is your educational background?
A: I have a B.A. in French from the University at Buffalo, and supporting coursework in international relations. I also have D.E.U.G. from the Université de La Rochelle in France.
Q: How did you get into the credit and collections industry?
A: After I graduated from the University at Buffalo, I was looking for a job where I could use my degree and foreign language skills. At that time, there weren’t many opportunities to do that locally unless you were going into the education field. The very first job opening that came up during my search was for a French collections representative at ABC-Amega. I was hired, and started my career in the International department here. So, like many people, I came into this field through a roundabout way. I think part two of this question is, “why have you stayed in this industry?” For me, it’s specifically because of the opportunities that I’ve had at ABC-Amega. I’ve been fortunate to find a great place to work, with incredibly talented, passionate, and hardworking colleagues.
Q: What have you found to be the most rewarding aspect of working in the industry?
A: I’ve found it really rewarding to work with clients, affiliates, and prospects around the world, from all different backgrounds and cultures. I’ve come to appreciate and value how people in our industry contribute to fostering a better economy and a better way of life for companies and people that are doing business internationally.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face as a credit professional?
A: There can be a lot of pressure placed on people in credit – they play a critical role in decisions that directly impact their company’s bottom line. People in credit have to bring many skills to the table in order to be successful, consistently finding creative solutions to make sales and customer relationships work. Bringing people together using those skills – diplomacy, negotiation, intuition – can be a challenge, but also very rewarding when your company and your customers succeed together.
Q: What are some of the ways the collections industry has changed over the years?
A: Like many industries, there is a continuing drive to deliver better results, more quickly, for less cost, and with less risk. To do this, we’re now relying on complex financial reporting that synthesizes large amounts of data, enabling us to make better decisions. This has removed some of the human component of credit as it used to be – with all the art and instinct behind it – and is increasingly replacing it with the science of AI and big data. In my view, both are equally powerful and necessary towards achieving successful outcomes. The implication we see today and in the future is that the business model of successful companies will unify client’s need for for increasingly complex analytics, with human-centered customer service and results.
Q: In which ways do you think the industry could or should improve?
A: The workforce in our industry has become more diverse, but we still have more work to do in this area. We need more women and more diversity in our leadership roles. Recruiting and retaining diverse talent will make everyone in our industry better. I would also like to see more formalized education and credentials available as a direct career path to the credit profession.
Q: Since this is International Women’s Month, what advice would you give women who are interested in getting into the industry?
A: Find a company that recognizes your value and wants to invest in you. Seek out development opportunities – mentoring, education, industry groups, networking events. Your company should be helping you or encouraging you to find and participate in these opportunities. Look for women leaders that you admire and ask them for advice or to mentor you. They were once new in their careers also and probably had other amazing women help them along their journey. They will be happy to pay it forward to you!