Mastering a Career in Credit
Juliana Brownell, International Credit Manager for Land O’Lakes, Inc. has over seven years of experience in the credit and collections field, having started her career in collections before transitioning into the credit side of the business with Land O’Lakes.
ABC-Amega’s Director of International Service, Jennifer Tirre-Daniels, recently spoke with Juliana about her experience as a leader in the credit field.
JTD: How did you get into the credit field?
JB: When I moved to the US in 2011 I needed to find a job that would help me get by while I was earning my Master's Degree. I started working at a third party collections company, and a couple of years later, thanks to the experience I gained in this job, and my bilingual skills, I started working at Land O' Lakes as a Credit Analyst.
JTD: What challenges, if any, have you faced in this industry?
JB: I think credit is an enjoyable but challenging field. It's enjoyable because there’s always something going on, especially with international. Challenging in the sense that a lot of people in the industry are the same people that have been around for a long time, so finding the right opportunity to move up requires patience and persistence.
JTD: Are you engaged in any programs or initiatives to bring more females into the field?
JB: Active outreach or recruitment. I’m not at the moment but foresee myself becoming more active in this soon. I always encourage other women in credit to test themselves and be confident they will become successful.
JTD: If so, where could young women interested in pursuing a career in credit seek these programs out?
JB: The first place I would have them look is to other female leaders, and not necessarily in credit. They should speak about life experiences and their challenges rising to the top.
JTD: In what ways do you feel the industry could or should improve?
JB: It's a developed industry, but that's not to say there isn't room to grow. I think we need to focus a lot on the emerging credit professionals who will change the business and pave the way forward, ensuring that generation will stand the test of time and make Credit a great career for years to come.
JTD: What are the biggest challenges you face as a credit professional in your industry?
JB: There are a few that spring to mind: one, a lot of people may think that there are not a lot of opportunities to move up in the industry, one of the reasons why there's high turnaround for younger credit professionals. Another one, depending on the segment in which you work, is that it's hard to build the trust and respect from sales, especially when they see you are perhaps less experienced. At times they do not want someone new to the position offering them instruction. For one of the groups I worked with, it took more than a year to build that trust and relationship. Finally, and critically, while building trust and an open relationship with the Sales teams, we must still maintain our independence and integrity, even if that conflicts with their sales goals.
JTD: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about getting into this industry?
JB: It is a field you have to have a passion for. I would say that you need to be patience and excel at whatever role you are in so that you are noticed and considered for other jobs within Credit. Really become an expert in your field…whatever that is right now. Take advantage of the educational opportunities provided early on, as you might not have the time later. Networking is also a great tool to learn from both emerging credit professionals and seasoned credit professionals.
About Land O’Lakes:
Land O'Lakes, Inc., one of America's premier agribusiness and food companies, is a member-owned cooperative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2018 annual sales of $15 billion, Land O'Lakes is one of the nation's largest cooperatives, ranking 212 on the Fortune 500. Building on a legacy of more than 98 years of operation, Land O'Lakes today operates some of the most respected brands and businesses in agriculture and food production including Land O’Lakes Dairy Foods, Purina Animal Nutrition, WinField United and Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN. The company does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Land O'Lakes, Inc. corporate headquarters are located in Arden Hills, Minn.