If you learn nothing else by reading the answers below, you should learn that Irene Hohuesle has perspective. For as much as she loves her job and she loves working in the credit and collections industry — and she definitely does love it — she knows that what really matters at the end of the day is family. Read on to learn more about Irene and why it’s best to give her a deadline when you ask her for something and why you might want to call her if you have a DIY project around the house.
Name: Irene Hoheusle
Company: Account Recovery Specialists, Inc.
Length of time at current company: 22 years
Length of time in industry: 22 years
How did you get your start in the industry?
A friend of mine said he knew someone — The owner of ARSI — who owned an agency and was trying to open an office to accept walk-in payments in a new town. I originally got the job as a temporary, part-time person to be available for locals to make payments. But on Day One, the owner met with me and said, “You may as well stay all day.” I said, “Okay. That is better anyway.” Then, she said, “Well, if you are here all day you may as well learn how to collect.” And I became a debt collector. The rest is history.
What is your career highlight so far?
My participation with ACA International. I love being a Certified Instructor, and I’ve loved serving on their committees these many years. I have helped to create and update core curriculum as well as other education and I’m very proud of that. I feel through this I have been able to not only learn the industry better, but I’ve helped make positive changes through my involvement for agencies around the U.S. All the awards and designations I’ve earned, especially IFCCE has also been a highlight of working in collections.
When or how are you most productive?
I am great under pressure. I am one of those people that love having a lot to do. If I know something has to be done by a date, it’s done by that date. If I don’t have a date, I will let all the other things that I have to do get in my way. That may not be a good thing to admit, but it’s the truth. So I give myself a deadline even when there is none.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
Oh my, there are so many names I can rattle off but I’ll say Roger Weiss. He is someone who knows every aspect of our industry and has experienced it all. He still has a great sense of humor and personality. He can speak to a consumer and teach anyone at any level in our industry how to do what they do or make their business more successful. He is involved with ACA and the industry more than most others. Roger rocks!!
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I am a wonderful mother and grandmother, according to my kids; There is none better. Yes, I’m very intelligent in the business of collecting, compliance, and our many laws — especially medical collections and training — BUT I’m an awesome parent. That is what I am most proud of in this world. If I fall off the face of the Earth tomorrow, the one legacy I leave behind is I put three spectacular women on this earth.
What do you like most about this industry?
The people. I’ve made a lot of friend and have a lot of mentors in the debt collection industry who I respect and appreciate. It is impressive that they have so much knowledge and abilities, even competitors are important to me. I don’t think I would enjoy my career anywhere near as much as I do if I didn’t have these awesome people in my life.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
That’s an easy one. I wish I could change the black eye on our industry. It’s so unfair. We are still labeled as the tax collectors that kings of lore used to collect and beat their subjects. When you actually look at the overlapping and extensive regulations we have to follow, the amount of communications we make, and really use those numbers to see the true percentage of complaints, we are doing a commendable job as an industry. All you hear about is the bad apples or worse the actors that aren’t even in our industry, just straight out criminal, but they get pooled into the honest, hard-working debt collectors who try their best to follow the many overlapping regulations.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
Well since I have grandkids now, I’d probably retire and relax, maybe just do speaking gigs, but if I still wanted to work, I’d likely be in banking. That is what I used to do before I was introduced to collections and realized, this is for me. But I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.
Describe a typical work day.
Busy, Busy. I am the Vice President of Collections and Education, but also the resource for compliance. Since I present seminars and webinars regularly for our clients, medical associations and ACA, I’m usually creating, researching, or updating something, I answer a ton of emails and I spend a lot of time with the collection leaders and training in our three locations. And, let’s not forget the meetings, with executives, specialists, and departments. No two days look alike.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Don’t laugh but I love doing construction projects, building things, renovating, tiling. It relaxes me and makes me proud of the finished products. So when I have time, I’m creating a plan to do something, or using some type of power tool and building something for me or my kids.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
If someone else can learn something, there is no reason why I can’t do it to. There is nothing I can’t learn to do. The only obstacle is the desire to do it. My dad was a genius!
What are you currently reading?
There are two things I’ve been reading and reading again and again: the CFPB’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the FCC’s Call Blocking rule.
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
I’m here for you! It may take me a day or two to get back with you, but I’m here for you.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Roger Weiss. I know he would be great and entertaining at the same time.