Jason Nesbit’s parents have thankfully forgiven him for abandoning his chosen field of study and graduate school for a career in the collections industry. While you should likely never take Nesbit up if he invites you to play a video game, he does love being there for other industry professionals who are looking for insights or problems to be solved. Read on to learn more about Jason and why the airline industry’s loss is the ARM industry’s gain.
Name: Jason Nesbit
Company: Harvest Strategy Group
Length of time at current company: Two years
Length of time in industry: 23 years
How did you get your start in the industry?
I was a December college graduate and the economy was recovering from a recession. Jobs in my chosen field of study were rare, so I decided it may be best to enroll in grad school the following Fall. In need of a short-term job to bridge the nine-month gap, I responded to a newspaper ad for an entry-level collections position. Accelerated Bureau of Collections, Inc. took a chance and gave me my introduction to the industry. Quite unexpectedly, I loved the work and was rather good at it. I decided to delay grad school and take my chances in hopes of making a career out of it. I vividly recall my parents not being very pleased that the education they helped pay for leading me to a debt collections career. Of course, they now realize it was a great move. The industry and the people in it have been great to me. Even better, I was able to get my graduate degree in business administration with a minor delay of 15 years.
What is your career highlight so far?
The highlight of my career (so far) is playing a significant role in the development of the entire accounts receivable lifecycle for an indirect automobile finance company. Growing the company from a start-up to a national player brought great responsibility and reward. I had the freedom to act as an entrepreneur and for anyone to have such an opportunity is rare. Having that level of trust from the owners was a great blessing. The reward for me was being able to pay back the trust they displayed in my abilities by helping them retire very comfortably as a result of a transfer of ownership that I helped make happen.
When or how are you most productive?
I am absolutely at the top of my game in the morning.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
I have spent the past two years working alongside Rob Yarmo at Harvest Strategy Group. He is an industry pioneer and an incredible human being. Although he is at a point where many people choose to retire, his energy and enthusiasm towards this industry is like no one I’ve ever worked with. Combine that energy with his wealth of knowledge and willingness to openly share his experiences, I can confidently say that it is a treat to be around him. I have always tried to be a student of this industry, and my connection with him over the last couple of years has allowed me to accelerate my knowledge base and add a few skills to my tool belt.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
It is not in my nature to admit that I do anything better than everyone else, however, I take pride in doing many things very well. On the business side, my ability to understand and assess each person’s unique talents and motivations has served me very well. If pressed for personal answer, I would say that I throw a pretty mean game of bags, or depending on where you are from, corn-hole.
What do you like most about this industry?
We have an industry that is unique and one of the things I have consistently been proud of is the impact it can have on people’s lives. I have been blessed to see people that would have never been given an opportunity within traditional corporate America achieve levels of success they never dreamed they could attain. Whether it was promotions into leadership roles or taking advantage of the financial opportunities afforded top performers, it is something that we should all be proud of. This industry is for tough, motivated people and taking a chance on those who didn’t have all the traditional blessings many of us experienced is extremely fulfilling.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
There are several well-known regulatory bodies that create extreme uncertainty within our industry. With that said, I believe and support the original intent of these bodies, but the execution has been less than stellar. A positive output from that last six years is that we as an industry have moved from a reactive to proactive approach regarding our policies, procedures and processes. I hope that the effort, time and money we have all spent shoring up our operations will ultimately steer these regulatory agencies towards removing the uncertainty as opposed to celebrating and focusing on fines and consent orders.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I would likely be in the airline industry. I have my private pilot’s license and was over half way to getting my instrument rating when I graduated college. Had the collections industry not grabbed me, I think I would be in the aviation field in some capacity.
Describe a typical work day.
There is no typical day, which makes this role very interesting. Because Harvest is recognized as an industry expert in identifying, managing and executing charge-off collection and legal strategies for banks, credit unions, finance companies and debt buyers, my time is split based on operations, client or prospect demands. Harvest has so many strong relationships in the ARM industry on the client side and the collection agency and law firm side that you never know what is going to be the next focus. Whether it is being consultative regarding strategy, developing relationships, bringing on new clients or ensuring our operational commitments are met, there is never a break in the action.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Video games. No better waste of time and stress reduction than playing games, especially with the family. Come to think of it, I am comfortable saying that I am likely better than anyone else at Mario Kart.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
“No matter how far you make it in your career, don’t be seduced by the leather.” This was shared to me early in my career by a former banking executive. Every opportunity I have been afforded is approached with rigor and avoidance of the status quo.
What are you currently reading?
I just received a copy of Killing England, by Bill O’Reilly. I love history and the prior books in the series were fantastic.
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
That I love talking about challenges and helping construct a solution. If anyone in this industry wants advice, whether they know me or not, feel free to reach out to me and I will gladly see how/if I can help. If I can’t, I can likely connect you with someone who can.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
David Ravin, Travis Justus, Terry Groves