The “Getting to Know” series is sponsored by Applied Innovation. Applied Innovation is helping to shape the future of accounts receivable management. Product development is driven by customer feedback, agency profitability and compliance and includes platforms addressing client portal access, document management, payment negotiation, Regulation E focused electronic payment authorizations and TCPA communication authorization platforms. Partner with a company who understands your business challenges and evolves to provide cutting edge technology to overcome those challenges and achieve success.
How is it possible not to like someone who shows people how much they mean to her through food? For that reason, and many many others, Tonia Brown exemplifies the enthusiasm, passion, and dedication the makes the people in the accounts receivable management industry such a joy to work with. Read on to learn more about Tonia, and her two pieces of great advice — about how to be a good leader and what it takes to succeed as a woman in a male-dominated industry.
Name: Tonia Brown
Current Role/Job Title: Senior Compliance Analyst
Company: ARM Compliance Business Solutions
Length of time at current company: 3 months
Length of time in industry: 17 years
How did you get your start in the industry?
I started as a Patient Account Representative at a first-party hospital revenue cycle solutions company and worked my up to Self-Pay Operations Manager. I was laid off in 2008 and began my career in third-party collections at ACSI as a Collector in their multi-family property division. Within three months of employment, I was made Management Systems Coordinator. By the end of my first month in that position was given Human Resources, Compliance, Benefits, Training and Annual Testing. At the beginning of 2009 I was made VP of Administrative Services and ended my career at ACSI as Executive Vice President.
What is your career highlight so far?
Taking the leap of faith into consulting. That was the scariest career decision I ever made, and it was also the best! It opened the door to so many new opportunities and allowed me to work with Sara Woggerman at ARMCBS. BEST DECISION EVER!!
When or how are you most productive?
Early morning is always my most productive time of the day. I put in my airPods and turn up 90’s Essential Rock in Apple Music and it’s on!
Which industry professional do you admire most?
Rozanne Andersen is the reason I wanted to get into compliance. I used to listen to her speak and think, “I want to be her when I grow up!” Ha! I doubt I will ever actually grow up, but Rozanne made compliance and the idea of helping a company become and stay compliant interesting and exciting. I completely “fangirled” her at ACA last year and probably freaked her out. Ha! I do have to give a heartfelt shoutout to Susan Namm. Susan really helped me hone my skills as a compliance professional and gave me a lot of the tools I still use today. She took me under her wing, elevated my skillset and mentored me with kindness and in time became one my best friends.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I am a magician in the kitchen! I love to cook and eat. I didn’t get this figure by accident! I was taught by my grandmother, who was a chef, that the best way to show people how much they mean to you is to feed them.
What do you like most about this industry?
Collections is about helping people. I don’t think consumers realize that. We work hard to educate them in a way that will move them from debtors to responsible consumers with better buying power. I know there are some bad actors in the industry, but as a whole debt collections is an important part of our country’s economy. Helping consumers understand their financial responsibility and providing them with the tools to pull themselves out of debt is an integral part of a strong economy
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What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
The constant regulatory changes. These have been ridiculous in past few years! I don’t deny that the FDCPA, TCPA, etc., needed to be brought current with the changes in how we communicate with consumers, but even that has been a nightmare and still doesn’t adequately address texting, email and the use of ATDS. At least that’s my opinion.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
Hopefully I would own my own little restaurant that had a small bar and an area for live music. Being a born and bred Nashvillian, music and food are in my blood!
Describe a typical work day.
I wake up every day at 6:30am and have coffee while my dogs run around the yard. I’m at my desk and logged in by 8-8:30am. I tend to break my tasks up by client and deadline. I generally spend 2-3 hours a day on each client and am done by 5:30-6pm. Working from home and as a consultant gives me the flexibility to attend my grandkids’ school functions and lately, that’s been field day.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Ice cream and Harry Potter!
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
To be a leader you must be the example and not the exception. It’s easy to bend the rules when you’re the boss, but if you want the respect of your team and your co-workers it is a necessity to set the example you expect others to follow.
What are you currently reading?
“Troubled Blood” by Robert Galbraith (really JK Rowling). I love detective stories!
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
I learned a long time ago to lose my ego. To be a successful woman in a male dominated industry you have to have very big feet, a strong backbone and a tiny ego.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Susan Namm with Radius Global Solutions.
The “Getting to Know” series is sponsored by Applied Innovation. Applied Innovation is helping to shape the future of accounts receivable management. Product development is driven by customer feedback, agency profitability and compliance and includes platforms addressing client portal access, document management, payment negotiation, Regulation E focused electronic payment authorizations and TCPA communication authorization platforms. Partner with a company who understands your business challenges and evolves to provide cutting edge technology to overcome those challenges and achieve success