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Women in Credit – Val McGowan: The “Power” of People in Credit

Val McGowan, Financial Services Business Manager for Wesco, has over 20 years of experience in the credit industry. Her experience includes working for companies such as Pitney Bowes, Expedia, and Allied Telesis. She later transitioned to the construction industry where she was Accounts Receivable Manager for McKinstry construction before her most current position with Wesco.

ABC-Amega’s Senior Vice President of Business Development, Domenic Di Loreto, recently spoke with Val about her experience as a leader in the credit field.

D.D.: What is your educational background?

V.M.: I attended Western Washington University after getting an Associate’s Degree at Peninsula College. My degree is in Spanish, which wasn’t my intention, but I had taken a course with an interesting professor, and it led me down that path. Although my career isn’t connected to my degree,  I once handled a credit portfolio is South America where my Spanish degree actually came in handy!

D.D.: How did you end up working in the credit and collections industry?

V.M.: After graduating from college, I took some time off. I eventually met someone who was running a  startup, Ammex, a PPE company, who asked if I could help them. I started as the Director of First Impressions, and I basically just answered the phones. The company grew very quickly and they needed help with other things throughout the company, and ended up in credit and collections, and I literally fell into the field. My career took off from there. A few years later, I moved from Ammex to work for a residential appraisal company where I managed the business office. After moving on from there, I went into collections for a few companies, before ending up where I am now at Wesco, where I’ve been for about five years.

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

V.M.: My greatest accomplishment is developing teams, supporting employees. I lead employees to be their best, my policy is people first. I don’t like to lead by “cracking the whip” I prefer to lead employees to be their best, by setting the example.

D.D.: What are the biggest challenges you face as a credit professional in your industry?

V.M.: Currently, the biggest challenges are staffing and fraud. There are areas in my company that are having a hard time getting qualified people in the door. You don’t run into many credit people that also have an understanding of legal, financial analysis, and collections. In terms of fraud, the people who want to “do bad” are getting savvier and savvier. Just last week, we had a customer that was hacked, because the hacker spoofed our email domain, and it looked legitimate. You almost need an entire team to vet potential fraud nowadays.

D.D.: In what ways have you seen the credit industry change over the years?

V.M.: The amount of business savvy that is required along with the needed understanding of the legal aspect of the credit industry has changed a lot of the ways we do things. Laws keep changing as does the amount of information you need to know when dealing with secured debt. The law is always placing new limits on what is required. It’s a constantly changing model, you need to stay on top of everything.

D.D.: How do you feel industry could change or should improve?

V.M.: You used to be able to leverage connections to collect. Currently you have to use portals and email inboxes and other avenues that advanced technology has provided to the industry. I think the loss of the personal touch is a detriment to the field.

D.D. What advice would you give someone thinking of entering the field?

V.M. Take time to learn about the bigger picture of your role; and don’t just look at what’s in front of you. Take time to understand how what you do impacts other people within the company, as well as how it impacts your customers. Once you understand your impact in credit and collections, it will help you understand the impact of others – both within and outside of your company.

About Wesco International, Inc.:

WESCO International, Inc. (NYSE: WCC), a publicly traded FORTUNE 500® company headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a leading provider of business-to-business distribution, logistics services and supply chain solutions. Pro forma 2019 annual sales were over $17 billion, including Anixter International which it acquired in June 2020. WESCO offers a best-in-class product and services portfolio of Electrical and Electronic Solutions, Communications and Security Solutions, and Utility and Broadband Solutions. The company employs over 18,000 people, maintains relationships with over 30,000 suppliers, and serves more than 150,000 customers worldwide. With nearly 1.5 million products, end-to-end supply chain services, and leading digital capabilities, WESCO provides innovative solutions to meet current customer needs across commercial and industrial businesses, contractors, government agencies, institutions, telecommunications providers, and utilities. WESCO operates nearly 800 branch and warehouse locations in over 50 countries, providing a local presence for customers and a global network to serve multi-location businesses and multi-national corporations.