Professional Spotlights: Women in ARM

Professional Spotlights Women In ARM

As many know, the month of March is dedicated as a time to acknowledge the contributions women have made to our society (both in the past, and through ongoing efforts). All year round, our content team at PDCflow tries to create a platform for women in the financial services industry to share their expertise and help others grow and learn.

We've interviewed some for educational articles, we've used their insights to learn about new regulations and changing industry landscapes, and we've even gotten to know people like Amy Perkins, Linda Straub Jones, Robin Cole and others through spotlight interviews, where they were gracious enough to share so much about their professional journeys.

In keeping with this tradition, we wanted to close out Women's History Month, 2021, by introducing our readership to three more amazing women, Gena Howard, Kim Howell and Ashlee Hyden, who are all assets to the consumer finance industry and an inspiration to others.

How long have you worked in the industry? What does your current position entail?

Gena Howard

Gena Howard

Executive Account Manger, DCM Services, LLC
My career spans 17 years starting in Advertising, where I promoted financial services companies and relationship banks. Then, I moved to Sales as an Insurance and Securities Agent and ultimately, ARM, which has been my ‘home’ for the last 12 years. As an Executive Account Manager, my focus is on my clients, their customers and my company to ensure we are providing superior partnership, performance, and innovation for the absolute best in compliance and consumer experience.
Kim Howell

Kim Howell

Chief People Officer, ERC (Enhanced Resource Centers)
After starting as a collector, working paper files (yes, old fashioned paper) on repossessed vehicles in Buffalo, NY, at the impressionable age of 20, I have now worked in the call center industry for 26 years. I am currently the Chief People Officer at ERC, responsible for the oversight of the Employee Services Department inclusive of Payroll, Benefits, Human Resources and Management Information Systems. My position entails being an advisor, mentor, conscience/devil’s advocate, legal wiz, confidant and yes, even the strict “mom” that keeps us in the guardrails of the HR world.
Ashlee Hyden

Ashlee Hyden

Head of Community and Partnerships, DAKCS Software Systems
I've worked in the industry for ten years as a part of the DAKCS team. My current position entails a primary focus on our customer community and the initiatives that are important for their compliance and business success. I've begun to explore and work with our integrated partners on co-marketing efforts and relationship building for long-lasting connections.

What do you like about your job and/or working in the industry?

Gena Howard

Gena Howard

Executive Account Manger, DCM Services, LLC
My background in customer service, brand loyalty and protection, and consumer-based selling gave me an immediate advantage in the ARM industry at a time that the players ‘doing it right’ were getting recognized. In all this time, I have been fortunate and delighted to be surrounded by some of the most authentic, hard-working, compassionate, thoughtful, and funny people you’ll ever meet. Through regulatory changes, enhanced digitization, changing consumer preferences, and more, the work gets done with the utmost care and concern for the customer because that is at the core of everything we do.
Kim Howell

Kim Howell

Chief People Officer, ERC (Enhanced Resource Centers)
My job allows me to have an impact on the holistic business, versus just one area. I love this! Having the ability to share my experiences, lessons learned (most the hard way) and insights with the current and future leaders of the functional areas keeps me engaged and energized. Additionally, there is something new to tackle every day. Anyone who knows anything about HR can relate, we are situational experts guided through our Walt Whitman written policies. ERC is also a pioneer in the tech space which offers its own challenges as we navigate through new policies where people and technology merge. The idea of being at the forefront of new policy, helping the business navigate through adoption and staying true to our people and culture is rewarding.
Ashlee Hyden

Ashlee Hyden

Head of Community and Partnerships, DAKCS Software Systems
I enjoy working with our Customer Community, building the relationships and networks, and vendor partner connections. Diving into the "people" part that connects Technology in the AR space in a human way. This position allows me a platform to ask the important questions, detect industry and system needs, and establish goals to better serve all who are involved.

What have you found to be your biggest challenge or hurdle in your career so far?

Gena Howard

Gena Howard

Executive Account Manger, DCM Services, LLC
It didn’t take me long at all to recognize ‘that face,’ the look people give when you tell them you are a debt collector. Early on, I became really good at presenting the necessity of the job for the sake of the economy as a whole, but also at sharing the endless work and sensitivity I observed going into guaranteeing the best experience, compassion, and convenience for consumers. These days, where I don’t readily identify as a debt collector anymore because of the sensitive nature of specialty recoveries, my work is still laser-focused on ensuring the absolute best outcomes and preserved relationships for my client partners and their customers.
Kim Howell

Kim Howell

Chief People Officer, ERC (Enhanced Resource Centers)
The biggest challenge or hurdle I have encountered so far in my career is a daily one…staying true to self. The ability to change and adapt is uber important to excel in an ever-changing industry like ours; however, changing or adapting to fit the mold and losing yourself, is not. I remember watching the environment “back in the day” when I first started. Everybody smoked, folks that smoked got face time with the bosses, those folks got promoted. So, I started smoking and was promoted 3 months later. (It is important to note that I have since quit.) The further I moved up in the ranks the less women there were in the conference and board rooms. Less women meant less people with shared commonalities and less people to willingly take notes or lunch orders. So I learned how to talk football, how to check my temper so that I would not appear “emotional” – how to fit in to be accepted as “one of the guys.” WOW did I go about this all wrong!! That is the challenge. Showcase your talents, know your weaknesses. The men I was trying so hard to fit in with, some are my closet friends to this day. None expected me to be one of them, just to be able to go toe to toe with them on pure skill and talent. Be the Rockstar you are, not the one you can pretend to be. I think that women, people in general of all shapes, sizes, gender and colors, earn their success. If you fake it, you will never keep it.
Ashlee Hyden

Ashlee Hyden

Head of Community and Partnerships, DAKCS Software Systems

The pandemic shook our industry hard like many others. A hurdle we had to face was having to maintaining a sense of stability and support for our agencies to lean on. The burnout and heartbreak was real across the board.

It was hard to know and listen to companies having to make hard decisions between laying off staff, closing doors, or transitioning to a remote environment if their business wasn't prepared to do so. We helped as much as we could with some of that support.

Seeing where we are now, the movement forward and willingness to adapt and pivot has been incredible to experience and work through together. Our industry is resilient.

What is the professional accomplishment you're most proud of?

Gena Howard

Gena Howard

Executive Account Manger, DCM Services, LLC
Helping my client partners by better understanding their customers, their needs, their processes, and how DCMS is best able to assist. I work with strategic clients and help them identify and properly manage sensitive accounts in the deceased (estate), bankruptcy, or similar specialty recoveries areas. My ultimate goals are to ensure my client feels supported in our shared responsibilities, and whenever I can, to make them the hero; to their team, organization and customers. Recent examples have been process improvements, where with only minor changes and enhancements, recoveries increased by 36% up to 52%, and large populations of previously unidentified deceased accounts were kept out of the larger/general delinquent account pools and routed for sensitive/survivor-specific estate follow-up.
Kim Howell

Kim Howell

Chief People Officer, ERC (Enhanced Resource Centers)
It is weird to call this a professional accomplishment, but becoming a mom and juggling it all is what I am most proud of. Everyone said having kids would change me. And it did. My career changed. I am proud of those changes. I am privileged to work for ERC, a company that supports the work/life balance, and having a role that affords me the flexibility needed for all things ‘Mom.’ Don’t get me wrong – I failed and failed big time at first because it is different for women. Even with a supportive and loving husband, sick kids, kids that have homework, kids with doctor’s appointments, etc. want me, not Dad. So I failed, fell, got road rash from all the new pressures and did so publicly. And then I learned. The professional accomplishment is in that. Sharing the story, coming back and being badass and giving myself some well deserved credit.
Ashlee Hyden

Ashlee Hyden

Head of Community and Partnerships, DAKCS Software Systems
After several years, I fought hard to bring back our DAKCS Interchange Summit and conference in 2017 to an in-person live event. The magic that happened with our customer base when everyone was able to get together to connect and interact was an amazing experience. We followed that event up with the 2nd Summit in 2019.

Do you have any advice for women entering the financial services industry today?

Gena Howard

Gena Howard

Executive Account Manger, DCM Services, LLC
Be authentic and confident, but always ask questions and don’t be afraid of some humility. Recognize your need for experience, but speak up and trust your instincts. Always have an open mind trained on collaboration to identify and act on opportunities for process, product, or service changes.
Kim Howell

Kim Howell

Chief People Officer, ERC (Enhanced Resource Centers)
Never say “because I am a woman.” Earn it and own it. Be proud, unequivocally unselfishly PROUD to be a woman. Just don’t ask for anything because of it. Demand it because it was earned and should be recognized. Then, share your story. Share how you succeeded. Share how you failed. Raise each other up. Celebrate each other. Be the successful WO-man you were born to be.
Ashlee Hyden

Ashlee Hyden

Head of Community and Partnerships, DAKCS Software Systems
I heard recently from a friend this quote and I loved it: "Fail. Fail fast. And then get up faster." Another is to not be afraid of the unknown and don't be afraid to ask for what you want.
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- ABOUT THE AUTHOR -
Hannah Huerta - PDCflow Marketing Specialist
Hannah Huerta, Marketing Specialist

Hannah Huerta is a Marketing Specialist at PDCflow. She creates content for the accounts receivable and payment industry.

LinkedIn - Hannah Huerta

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