After 35 years in the credit and collection industry, Bonnie Baker got married a few months ago and became Bonnie Allen. Regardless of her name, Bonnie has flourished during her career in the industry, climbing her way from programmer to the owner of four companies. Read on to learn more about Bonnie and why the night time is when she get really get strategic.
Name: Bonnie K. Allen since December 15th. Yes, I’m a newlywed. It was Bonnie Baker since 1981 so most people don’t know who that is!
Company: Hawthorn Recovery Services, Inc.
Length of time at current company: I started my own agency 10 years ago and also own three others.
Length of time in industry: 35 years
How did you get your start in the industry?
I was hired as a programmer in a small agency with less than 10 employees. It wasn’t really a full-time job because computers were relatively new in the industry so I filled in doing administrative, accounting, and marketing functions. During the next few decades, I transitioned to Manager, Vice President, and President. When I left the company, there were more than 100 employees. That company was sold to a few years later and is now known as Parallon.
What is your career highlight so far?
It hasn’t happened yet! Seriously, I’ve been blessed to be involved with some really great people in some wonderful endeavors. The job is really only part of the bigger picture. In addition to my job, I’ve always been involved in professional and civic organizations. In my early years, I was a founding member of the IBM Users Group, the Mid-Missouri Telecommunications Association, and served as President of the Users Group for IAT Predictive Dialers in the early years of the dialing technology. Various networking and women in business groups are also a part of the picture. I have also been a member of ACA and HFMA for the majority of my career and have held various offices and board positions.
When or how are you most productive?
When the last employee hits the door I find a few hours to work on projects requiring the concentration that escapes me in the daily grind. This is generally when the strategic projects get attention.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
My former boss and mentor, George H. Ousley, Jr. He taught me so much more than how money is collected. He taught me vision, leadership, management, and values.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
Absolutely nothing. Through various jobs and experiences, I learned a broad range of skills. Therefore, I’m a student of many things and a master of nothing. You might say I know just enough to be effective more often than not. Learning new things is a passion and continuing education is a minimum requirement in our industry.
What do you like most about this industry?
Medical collections are constantly changing and the complexity keeps me motivated and stimulated. Working with facilities and providers on revenue cycle has afforded me the opportunity to work with a number of brilliant, dedicated, hard-working professionals.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
Frivolous lawsuits, ambiguous regulations, and elimination of the criminals who pose as collectors and give the industry a negative perception.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I love being outdoors and traveling but work has been a part of my life since my first paycheck at 15 years old. It doesn’t matter exactly what tasks I perform or what industry/environment as long as it is interesting and gives a sense of accomplishment.
Describe a typical work day.
I keep a daily list of things I want to accomplish. Some things don’t get done and move to the next day. Sometimes things crop up that keep me from getting things done. Staying focused and continuing to prioritize helps keep me organized and on task. Emails, phone calls, custom or ad hoc client reports, and personnel issues take the majority of my time.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Attending local MMA fights or the local races, riding my Harley, singing in the car, and deep tissue massages.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Throughout my career I’ve had the privilege to be mentored by a number of individuals who freely shared their wisdom and experience. It would be hard to say there’s a best.
What are you currently reading?
Two books I read previously that I’m now reading concurrently and comparing/contrasting. Both written by men of great wealth – Ecclesiastes and the Biography of Steve Jobs.
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
Hmmm. I suppose it’s only fair to warn everyone not to approach me before my second cup of coffee.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Irene Hoheusle, ARSI