Working at Siemens Financial Services (SFS) over the past 14 years has been hugely enriching. Here, I share my experience pursuing a career in Collections and offer women some advice on excelling in their own professional development.
When I first joined Siemens Financial Services as a collector in 2006, little did I know the journey that awaited me. Within 6 months of joining this fantastic company, I was asked to consider applying for the newly vacant team leader position – a role which I subsequently stayed in for nearly 4 years. From the outset, I was fortunate enough to work alongside great managers who encouraged and mentored me throughout my career.
Shortly after making a sideways move into Customer Services in 2010, an exciting role as Collections Manager opened up which seemed like the perfect fit for me. Being encouraged and feeling confident enough to go for interesting new roles when they free up was a must. For me, leaving and coming back to Collections also meant bringing new things to the table – and a fresh perspective. Sometimes, diverging from the trodden path can be pivotal in broadening your experience and can benefit your overall development in the long run.
If managing a team of 20 wasn’t challenging enough, I also had my second child during this time. Working for SFS was a blessing in that sense because of their attitude towards flexible working. Using regular surveys, the business continuously sought to find out what they could do differently to ensure staff well-being in this respect. I, for instance, I ended up working longer days so that I could spend Friday afternoons at home with my kids. It’s not always easy climbing the corporate ladder while being a mother – but working with a supportive team and company most definitely helps.
By 2016, I fancied a change of direction and took on the position of Head of Asset Management within the Vendor Finance division. This was a great learning curve – moving from being at the end of the process in recoveries to the front-end side brought new challenges and broadened my experience of the wider business. While changing roles is always an adjustment, I’m a firm believer that you get out what you put into something. This means working hard and listening to feedback – both are critical to settling into a new position and have been at the heart of my professional development. Ask for the support you need, it’s ok to not have all the answers as we are learning all the time.
This was also the year I attended a pilot programme aimed at career progression for women. This was the first training programme I had attended that spent a lot of time focusing on personal strengths and how to use them best and not just on the areas you need to develop in. The programme provided tools and insights into the challenges faced by women that differs to men.
I think it’s important to have role models and learn ways to progress your career.
In our team we recently spent a few hours sharing stories about our diverging career paths and it helped us to learn from each other. Your own career path is specific to you but hints and tips from other is always beneficial. The important thing is to focus on your own strengths - that is what will eventually get you to where they want to be.
The Women in Leadership programme had limited availability, so working with a few people internally, we decided to build our own version of the program called the Women’s Impact Programme, which is designed to tap into women’s potential and teach them ways to help them fulfil it both in and out of work. There are seven impact pillars that the attendees focus on – Confidence, self -belief, strengths, brand, values, resiliency and work-life balance. Using a variety of methods such as coaching, masterminding, obstacles and challenges the attendees develop their own self confidence and have access to tools and methods in the long term for when challenge arises.
In 2017, I applied for the role of Head of Collections & Legal Recoveries and have been in this job ever since. Heading up the entire collections department is a huge responsibility and every day brings new challenges: Managing a large portfolio is something I enjoy as it brings new learning opportunities as every customer is different. I have to consider aspects such as how we make profit and lead change through diversity and inclusion. Most of my team have young families, so finding that work-life balance is key for me to support them, I personally to have to make this work and know that the support I receive from my Manager and peers makes all the difference – particularly over the last few months of working from home under lockdown without child-care. This goes beyond families though, it’s important for everyone to try and get the balance right and we have different ways we work together as team to support one and other, whether it’s taking shorter lunch breaks throughout the week to take time off on a Friday or something else, we try to be understanding of each other’s needs and work as one team
What’s important to remember when it comes to your career: there’s no one size fits all and you’ve got to switch things up as and when needed, believe in your own abilities and have a voice to make sure your views are heard - the best teams are diverse and inclusive ones.
Vickie Lindsay, Head of collections & legal recoveries
I have a variety of experience in Collections and Legal Recoveries, Asset Management and Customer Service, this enables me to support our teams to ensure we maintain the high level of customer service we provide to our customers year on year. I am passionate about Diversity, Inclusion and Leadership and being part of a company that encourages career development and growth is a fantastic place to be and why I am still here after fourteen years!
Away from work, I have a young family who keep me busy so when time allows I love nothing more than relaxing in the garden in the sunshine or going for a run.