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In celebration of women’s history month, PDCflow is highlighting the work and journeys of a few women in the financial services industry. PDCflow’s Marketing Manager Dawn Updike had the opportunity last December to meet these women and see them present at insideARM’s Women in Consumer and Commercial Finance conference.
Over the course of this very long month of March – which has upended everyone's lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic – PDCflow has continued with our series dedicated to highlighting women in the financial services industry who are creating a positive impact in their areas of expertise.
We began the series with Robin Cole, the Associate Executive Director of the NCBA. She was recently honored with the NCBA's President's Award for the work she did during her time as the Acting Executive Director.
We then introduced Linda Straub Jones from NeuAnalytics. She recently made a leap of faith in her career and gives some of the credit to the Women's conference she attended. She told her story of the confidence the conference provided to make the move (even though it was uncomfortable at times).
Last week the focus was on Brit Suttell, an attorney at Barron & Newburger, P.C. and a member of the firm's Consumer Financial Services Law Practice Group.
Our final article spotlights the woman who created and designed the content for the Women in Consumer and Commercial Finance conference - Amy Perkins.
Amy, currently the President at insideARM, is a collection and recovery veteran with twenty years of experience. She is the creator and Executive Chair of the Women in Consumer and Commercial Finance and iA Strategy and Tech.
What are your responsibilities at insideARM? What is a typical day like for you?
I’m the President at insideARM and I have responsibility for the majority of our products; Research Assistant, Case Law Tracker and Commercial Consulting/Training, in addition to leading the vision and content for our Strategy and Tech and Women in Consumer and Commercial Finance conferences. I also support our amazing CEO, Stephanie Eidelman in her leadership of the Innovation Council.
My primary goal is to help our company continue to grow profitably and in a way that is true to our brand; high quality and substantive experiences that create differentiated and measurable value to our customers, partners and the industry at large.
Every day varies for me, but in addition to executing on the delivery of all of the products and services mentioned above, I spend a great deal of time talking with leaders across the industry about the latest trends, what to look out for and connecting customers with companies that can help solve their problems.
Every woman's journey is unique. What brought you to the financial services industry and to where you are today?
I started my career in financial services as a collections supervisor at NCO. After working my way up to the site director level, I made the leap to Bank of America. At Bank of America, I held various roles across collections. I’m pretty sure I dabbled in everything and loved it. It was very important for me to have in-depth knowledge of all of the areas of collections. Each move was fairly intentional and got me a step closer to my desired goals.
After Bank of America, I joined Citizens Bank leading the collections and recovery strategies for all products. Until Citizens, my primary experience was in the credit card business. Citizens allowed me to learn collections across every consumer banking product (HE, Mortgage, Student, Auto, Card, Personal Loans, etc.).
After a four-year overhaul of the collection strategies, including building a team, updating all core tech infrastructure, the introduction of digital channels, etc., I was offered an opportunity to join insideARM. The timing was perfect and the company and role aligned with my personal and professional goals.
I was hungry to have a broader strategic impact in a way that was meaningful to the company and industry. I was ready to reconnect with the many influential and knowledgable leaders in the industry. This role has afforded me those opportunities and so much more. One of the biggest bonuses has been the ability to launch our Women in Consumer and Commercial Finance conference. A vision I’ve not-so-privately held for a long time.
What inspired you to put together this conference? What do you hope to achieve?
I think some things we know we’re destined to do, long before we know how we’ll do them. Creating a community of women who fiercely educate, support and advocate for one another has always been my calling.
Two of my primary why’s for creating the Women in Consumer and Commercial Finance Conference are:
- I want to help women grow their confidence in the workplace. One way to do that is to help women recognize that their challenges are likely someone else’s challenges too. There’s great power in knowing you’re not alone. Recognizing we have common struggles is the start, but creating a space to work through and grow from them, is what makes all of the difference. I hope women leave all of our experiences with new and meaningful relationships and support, feeling ready to more confidently pursue their personal and professional goals.
- I have an eleven-year-old daughter. I would love to help women learn how to guide and lead young women to recognize and break/prevent some of the same cycles we’ve experienced.
In 2018 we decided to launch our annual conference, with the vision being to expand our commitment to women more broadly in the future. It was scary. We didn’t know if a single person would show up, but they did. And they keep coming in growing numbers, as high as almost 300 last year. There’s no doubt that there was a desperate need for us to create this community.
What have you found to be your biggest challenge or hurdle in your career so far?
It’s hard to narrow it down to one. But if I had to choose today (which I obviously do), I would say learning whose criticism I should take and whose I should ignore. Early in my career I was provided coaching that I took seriously and it sidetracked me. These days, I only take criticism from people whose advice I would also take. Simple as that.
Have you had mentors who helped you grow in your career? If so, how have they helped you?
I’ve had so many great mentors. Early in my career, my mentors were like my personal cheering squad. They provided me the validation and support I needed to move forward in my career with confidence.
My approach to seeking mentors is very intentional and I’ve never been afraid to ask. That has always led to a perfect match. Providing your mentor with the exact ways they can help you, really helps maximize their impact. Because most of my mentors have been at senior levels in their respective organizations, I think what they all have in common is helping me think and lead strategically. I believe this is a skill you have to have to reach the highest levels. I would say it’s now one of my greatest strengths.
Bragging time... what professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the type of leader I’ve become. I build strong relationships with my team and lead in a trustworthy, authentic and supportive way. It takes time as a leader to find your groove and I’m very glad I’ve found mine. I’ve been fortunate to work with some truly outstanding colleagues through the years and it’s been the greatest gift. But, the Women in Consumer and Financial Conference is a very, very close second.
Do you have any advice for women entering the financial services industry today?
The biggest piece of advice I can give women, or anyone for that matter, is to pay attention to what tasks or activities bring you the most joy. When you get that “I love this job” feeling, make note of what it is you’re doing at that moment. It’s easy to get on the career fast track and then find yourself in a role that in no way aligns with your desired job. If you pay attention to what you enjoy, you can very intentionally navigate your career in the direction of the dream job you may not even know exists. Also, if you’re afraid to do something, do it SCARED! You’ll rarely regret it.
Thanks to Amy for sharing her experiences and advice. Stay informed as we bring you the experiences and knowledge of others in the financial services industry and learn from the experiences of a variety of industry peers in our Thriving in Collections series. Sign up for the PDCflow Blog:
- ABOUT THE AUTHOR -
Dawn Updike, Marketing Manager
Dawn Updike is a Marketing Manager at PDCflow. She has a background in Customer Success and has worked in the SaaS industry for over ten years.