Getting to Know Vanessa Ward of Matrix Imaging Solutions

The “Getting to Know” series is sponsored by Arbeit. Arbeit is a powerful, and easy to use communications platform that empowers businesses to reach more consumers. Innovative by nature, we are constantly listening to and understanding the businesses we partner with and developing long term industry relationships that allow us to be proactive in anticipating industry needs.

It takes a special kind of person to miss injuring himself or herself in order to create something that will be cherished by someone else. It’s that kind of self-sacrifice that makes Vanessa Ward such a welcome addition to the ARM industry. Vanessa always appears to be willing to help out, even if it means violating the old saying of never show anyone you’re good at something because then you’ll have to do it over and over again. Read on to learn more about Vanessa, her love of her family and nature, and her dream of publishing her children’s book.

Name: Vanessa Lewis Ward
Job Title: Director of Business Development (ARM Industry)
Company: Matrix Imaging Solutions
Length of Time at Current Company: 4 ½ months
Length of Time in Industry: 18 years

How did you get your start in the industry?
I was working for a mailing and fulfillment provider who decided to delve into the ARM industry. They had purchased a small transactional mail company that handled collection communication mailings for a couple of large 1st party projects. I was asked to help grow their collection client base. Around 2002 I went to my first collection conference and the rest is history. Since then I’ve remained working as a solutions partner within our industry.

What is your career highlight so far?
Successfully assisting several large companies to fine-tune their previous communication processes. It’s been so gratifying to help make projects more efficient and cut unnecessary costs. I came from a client services and office management background. So my career highlight has never been about scoring the biggest sales deal. It’s been about making something better, mitigating concerns, and building trusted long term friendships.

A couple of funny highlights though have been dancing with Jim Belushi at one collection conference then having my picture taken with Erik Estrada (aka “Ponch” from CHiPs) at another.

When or how are you most productive?
Typically late morning through mid-day although I’ve been known to email ideas, or respond to client needs, in the middle of the night.

To help with productivity I make plans, utilize CRM software for process management, and block off portions of my calendar for important task time.

I also love collaborating with other team members and clients. I strongly believe key business efforts are most successful when involving team members of differing personalities and strengths. If everybody has the same personality type it’s significantly harder to think outside of the box and maximize the project’s overall potential.

Which industry professional do you admire most?
Manny Newburger. He’s been such a warrior within our industry. Manny has dedicated so much of his life to not only legally supporting our industry but also our business community. I can only imagine how many airline miles he’s accrued between handling cases, speaking at and supporting our industry conferences, and more.

Admittedly, as a past silversmith, I also appreciate his artistic side endeavors. I think it’s wonderful he somehow also finds time to create beautiful glass fusion art.

What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I read this question and immediately “Rain Man” came to mind. Dustin Hoffman’s “I’m an excellent driver” scene.

In all seriousness, I don’t think I do something better than everyone else. There are so many talented people in our world. I will say though I’m a detail oriented person. I try to ensure everyone’s on the same page and have all important business details. It’s the little details that can trip up a crucial business effort. Many times throughout my career I’ve been commended for catching errors or issues that were just not noticed by others. Of course this can also be considered a professional curse (“Vanessa you’re so good at noticing the little details and catching things – will you help proof these 100 letter templates please?”). 😊

What do you like most about this industry?
The diversity and camaraderie of people who’ve gravitated to this industry and turned it into a life-long profession.

I also respect the efforts a lot of agencies make to help genuine consumers who’ve found themselves in unexpected life-changing financial despair. I think most people, outside of our industry, have no clue how many agencies understand and work with consumers to properly attain debt resolution.

Finally, the internal efforts made by agencies to show their collection personnel proper thanks for their efforts. A collection specialist has a taxing job. Over the years I’ve witnessed more businesses revamping their appreciation and incentive models to better show they value their people.

What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
When I first came into this industry I didn’t meet many women, let alone ones in high positions within the companies. However over time that desired change has continued to gain momentum. I respect so many ladies I’ve met through industry conferences and organizations such as PWCI. We have some incredibly intelligent, resourceful, and driven women such as Leslie Bender, Judy Hammond, and just too many others to list here.

If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I would open up my own art studio to again start creating silver jewelry. I actually miss getting my fingers dirty, scraped, and burned to gain the end result of an interesting piece of jewelry. The joy is not only within the process of creating it but also someone loving and making it their own … in some cases to be passed down to another family generation.

Describe a typical work day.
Plan, research, communicate, analyze, log efforts, collaborate, initiate … rinse and repeat.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Taking Spring or Fall adventures in nature with my 8-year-old daughter and husband … preferably by a body of water!

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What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve received so many great and humorous pearls of wisdom I feel compelled to share a few:

  • A question unasked is a question unanswered
  • Don’t be quick to judge — remember everyone has their own story and struggles
  • Never get your honey where you get your money
  • Do your best to take the high road
  • Before leaving the house, always put on clean underwear and some lipstick (my Southern mom somehow felt this was crucial should one have an accident and have to go to the hospital. Ironically, in the ‘90’s, I fell two stories into a cement basement. It resulted in multiple fractures and stitches in my head – but by golly I had on clean underwear and lipstick! LOL!)

What are you currently reading?
Seabiscuit” by Laura Hillenbrand and “Calypso” by David Sedaris

What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you
I’ve written a children’s story that incorporates a unique flora, fauna, and word based learning spin. Right now it’s on pause. However one day I’ll publish it to help children learn, in a beautiful way, about nature while also expanding their vocabulary.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Chuck Stigers (Amsher), Lori Bennett (GC Services), Jerry Terrill (Superlative RM), Bob Myers (TCN), and Lance Black (Radius).

The “Getting to Know” series is sponsored by Arbeit. Arbeit is a powerful, and easy to use communications platform that empowers businesses to reach more consumers. Innovative by nature, we are constantly listening to and understanding the businesses we partner with and developing long term industry relationships that allow us to be proactive in anticipating industry needs.

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