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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.
Each woman featured in this series has taken very different career paths in the financial services industry. This series hopes to highlight each woman in order to encourage others who may see similarities in their own career journeys, challenges, and victories.
Last week we published our first featured woman in financial services, Robin Cole Associate Executive Director of the NCBA. She talked about her journey from the real estate industry to where she is today in the association world.
This week we want to introduce you to Linda Straub Jones, a Senior Account Executive with NeuAnalytics. She has over 30 years of experience in the credit and collections industry and has worked as a collector, skip tracer, paralegal and a data specialist for bankruptcy, deceased and compliance data. She joined NeuAnalytics in August 2019 after spending 18 years with LexisNexis Risk Solutions. Prior to that she worked with Probate Finder, LLC and Balogh Becker law firm.
Linda tells her story about knowing her value and speaking up for herself within her company. She also talks about her experience in making a big career move packed with change and sometimes discomfort.
Linda Straub Jones
NeuAnalytics, Senior Account Executive
What is a typical day like for you at NeuAnalytics? What do you find most rewarding about this position or company?
I’m in sales, and while there is no typical day for me, there are many tasks I do most days, such as calling/emailing/meeting with customers and prospective customers, writing articles or blog posts (usually about compliance topics), creating processes to increase efficiencies and constantly learning – whether by industry publications, websites/blogs, or internally meeting with our product owners or engineers to better understand our products.
I also travel quite a bit to attend industry conferences, visit customers or visit our corporate office in Overland Park, KS (I live in MN and travel to the office about one week per month). What I find most rewarding is helping our customers bring efficiencies to their compliance processes. Many companies are still using spreadsheets and manually tracking compliance, I love to share how our product can help automate their processes.
Every woman’s journey is unique. What brought you to the financial services industry and to where you are today?
My story into the financial services industry is an odd one – I actually got into the industry because of the Girl Scouts! Bear with me here – to get a badge in girl scouts, I had to do a community service project. I ‘adopted’ a grandma at a senior apartment complex near my home. I ended up babysitting her granddaughter. Across the hall from the girl I was babysitting lived a young couple who had a baby – and I started babysitting for them too.
The father of the baby was Jim Balogh, who had a collection law firm. I started working for his firm when I was about 20 years old. I ended up getting my paralegal degree while working there, and then continued working in his law firm doing collections and other paralegal duties. Eventually he started a couple of data companies, Banko and Probate Finder.
I ended up working for both of those companies. Banko was purchased by LexisNexis in 2004, and I moved with that purchase to work for LexisNexis. I moved through the ranks there, but mostly working with compliance products such as bankruptcy, deceased, TCPA, SCRA, etc. I became their SME on all things compliance, especially relating to the collections industry. Through LexisNexis I was able to meet hundreds of people at law firms, and in banks and others in the financial services industry.
In your story at the Women in Consumer Finance conference, you spoke about having the courage to go to your boss and ask for a raise. Will you share that story for readers here?
Absolutely happy to share. I think that asking for a raise, or a promotion can be one of the most intimidating things anyone can do – man or woman. But I had come to one of those ‘enough is enough’ moments in my life, where I felt I had been promised things that hadn’t come to fruition.
I had been doing two jobs for about 18 months, and after the iA Women’s conference in 2018, where all these wonderful, strong women had told their stories, I became inspired. Two themes I heard over and over again at that conference was
- If you don’t value yourself, then others won’t value you either, and
- There is no harm in asking………the worst that can happen is that someone will say no.
So, I called my manager, right from the women’s conference hotel lobby and had a very honest conversation with him about my expectations going forward, which included a raise and a promotion. Within a month I received a raise. However, the promotion never came.
About 6 months later I was provided the opportunity to work for NeuAnalytics and decided to make the move. I’m so happy I did. While I’m still in the financial services industry, I have been given the opportunity to learn something new, and to approach the industry from a new angle.
What have you found to be your biggest challenge or hurdle in your career so far?
I would say my biggest challenge came just last year. As I mentioned earlier, I went through a big transition last year; After 18 years with a company where I knew everyone, and was very comfortable, I decided to move to a new company.
I went from a strategy/market planning position to a sales position, and from being very comfortable with my knowledge in our products/processes to starting from scratch with a brand-new product. While I’m still in the same industry, I’m now selling software instead of data.
Starting over at this point in my career was a little scary, but I trusted my gut, which told me I was doing the right thing. I’ve been at NeuAnalytics for 6 months and I’m absolutely loving it.
Have you had mentors who helped you grow in your career? If so, how have they helped you?
I have absolutely had people that I have leaned on throughout my career.
- Early on – it was the person that brought me into this industry, Jim Balogh. I could always run ideas past him and ask him anything. But more importantly he recognized my strengths and helped me to develop my skills. He gave me opportunities to learn more, and to test my knowledge. He was instrumental in my career growth for the first 15 or so years of my professional career.
- Over the past 15 years, my biggest cheerleader has been my husband. He has always supported me in whatever I want to do, he is there for me when I have bad days, as well as celebrate the good days. He will be brutally honest with me when I ask for his opinion, and I value his input. We are a great team.
- My girlfriends – always, ALWAYS have a group of friends you can lean on! I have built a circle of amazing women friends in the industry, and they have all been instrumental to my success. Rozanne, Tracey, Cathy, Emilie and Wendy were all there for me when I was going through my challenges last year. When you have people who have been through similar things as you, who work in the same industry, or who can relate with you on a professional level, it means everything. They have given me courage, lifted me up when I was down, and have provided amazing guidance and support over the years.
Do you have any advice for women just entering the industry or who find themselves struggling in their career?
Yes, I actually have 3 things to share:
- Find your niche, something you are passionate about, something you are good at, and keep at it. Even if your current job doesn’t necessarily lend itself to your passion, you can always keep at it. My passion has always been the legal/compliance side of our industry. I’m a bit of a geek that way. I really love digging into the laws and regulations, understanding them, and then talking about them with others. That has grown into speaking at conferences about compliance topics and writing articles.
- Develop a group of friends in the industry. Seek them out on LinkedIn or if you go to conferences connect with them there. Try to find a few in your same city and meet with them on a regular basis.
- Don’t forget to take care of you. Take time for yourself and your family. Take your allotted vacation. Take mental breaks throughout the day. If you can, meditate daily – download a free meditation app and give yourself the gift of 10 minutes per day of doing nothing but reflecting. When you are happy and centered with your personal life you will do better professionally.
Linda shared her experience of asking for a raise and promotion at the last women’s conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Knowing her worth and letting go of fear allowed her to move her career in an exciting new direction. Her enthusiasm and her smile throughout the conference reinforced that taking a leap and having faith in yourself produces positive results.
Thanks to Linda for sharing her experiences and advice. Stay informed on the next interviews in this series 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.