Jan Stieger has never worked for a collection agency, a debt buyer, or a law firm, but she remains one of the most important professionals in the ARM industry. As Executive Director of RMA International (formerly known as DBA International), Stieger has been at the forefront of advocating the association’s certification program, which has gained significant traction among state and federal regulators. And maybe there is still time for her to become a professional crafter. Read on to learn more about Jan.
Name: Jan Stieger
Company: Receivables Management Association International
Length of time at current company: Six years
Length of time in industry: 16 years
How did you get your start in the industry?
I have actually never worked “in the industry” such as at a collection agency, vendor, debt buyer or collection law firm. I came to the industry through management of professional and trade associations. A friend of mine was the Executive Director at the California Association of Collectors (CAC), and when she was ready to move on, she recommended me as the new Executive Director. At that time I had spent 20 years working for different large medical associations and wanted to become an Executive Director. Going to a smaller association, I was able to accomplish that. After 10 years at the CAC, the Executive Director position at DBA opened up. Coming to DBA gave me another professional growth opportunity, without having to learn to represent a totally new industry.
What is your career highlight so far?
I get a lot of satisfaction executing the visions of the Board with the staff. I feel like I’m making my best contributions when I’m advocating for the industry either with legislators, regulators, or other decision makers and/or presenting at other industry associations introducing the industry and encouraging the outsourcing or sale of their defaulted accounts. When you get the opportunity to promote the industry and get past the often negative reputation, it is amazing how receptive people are to learn about the important role we play in the U.S. credit-based economy. I’m also very proud of RMA for creating the first certification program and love seeing it become part of the industry fabric either through legislation, regulator comments or creditor requirements.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
I come into contact with a lot of industry professional on a daily basis. The ones that impress me most are those that are able to put aside personal gain and give themselves selflessly for the betterment of the industry. People like Kaye Dreifuerst and Mark Naiman come to mind. I’m also very impressed with defense attorneys like Tomio Narita and Don Maurice who are always willing to spend time explaining implications of laws/legal decisions in terms I can understand.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I am extraordinarily well organized. I live by lists, I’m a multi-tasker and can’t stand not being busy. I think I’m also able to assess a situation quickly and determine the correct course of action needed.
When or how are you most productive?
First thing every morning, I make a list and get to work completing it. I tend to schedule meetings with staff in the afternoon so that I can get my desk cleared in the morning. When I have detailed writing to do, I tend to do that from my home office.
What do you like most about this industry?
The important role it plays in the industry and the great people who work in it! Even when times are tough, many industry leaders take the time to truly care about others and share knowledge.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
The negative reputation and the trend to over regulate instead of finding fair and balanced solutions. But these items are also what drives me to seize the opportunity to change it.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
Being a professional crafter!
Describe a typical work day.
No two days are the same for me, which is another reason why I love association work. Days can be filled with advocacy work, conference work, general administrative work, policy setting, or helping members. I travel quite a bit to represent RMA … and each trip is unique and different. I really enjoy the time I’m assisting members by providing resources, helping them network and answering their questions.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Wine and sitting on the beach.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
To take time and think about a situation, before you react. Rarely, do you need to act immediately, and rarely is your first reaction the best. Gather your thoughts, think about different scenarios, then act.
What are you currently reading?
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
It is important to me that the industry overcomes it’s challenges and with a united industry, we will be stronger. The strength of the entire industry will be stronger than any one segment.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Pat Morris and Mark Dobosz