Getting to Know Mark Nielsen of First Collection Services

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.

Mark Nielsen wants to add bills to the list of things that are certain in life, like death and taxes. As long as there are bills, Mark is comforted by the fact that there will need to be people around to collect on them. Read on to learn more about Mark, just how many trees who owe their lives to him, and why he’s addicted to trail mix.

Name: Mark Nielsen
Current Role/Job Title: Director of Business Analytics
Company: First Collection Services, Mabelvale, Arkansas
Length of time at current company: Six years
Length of time in industry: 26 years

How did you get your start in the industry?
I began as a collector for GC Services in 1996 in St. Louis, collecting on MCI long distance bills. I applied there because I had been working in the golf industry … and realized you worked every weekend, and never actually got to play golf.

What is your career highlight so far?
One thing I particularly liked was in the first few months at my job with Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages in 2000, I was able to cut their paper consumption by more than half from automating their reporting processes, and posting reporting on their intranet. We had eight call centers at the time, and it made an immediate impact on both headcount that spent their days collating reporting, and constantly filling printers with paper.

When or how are you most productive?
I’ve never been a big meeting guy … which was a challenge at a certain former employer. They loved meetings. I like to get my instructions from a meeting/conference call, and then get back to my desk and start working on the solution. I spend a portion of my day working on routine, daily items … but then often have a block of the afternoon to work on development, automation, or the details of a report or document. I love that part of the day.

Which industry professional do you admire most?
Debra O’Brien, former Director of Billing/Finance at AT&T Advertising. Maybe the most intelligent, focused and driven person I’ve ever worked with.

What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I don’t know about better than everyone else … but if you need data pulled together from a variety of sources and put together into a coherent story, I’m your guy. I’ve always asked clients to get me all the data you can, and let me worry about how to format and store it for you, so you can get the reporting you really want.

What do you like most about this industry?
I feel there is a sense of security with receivables … as long as bills are sent out, there will be people to help with collecting on them. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some fantastic people over the years. As someone who now works 1,500 miles from the office, I do miss the daily interaction with others at our agency. I look forward to my visits there to work in-person with our employees.

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What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
I am a big believer in electronic communications (texting/email). While it can be done for consumer accounts, it’s not as easy as it should be due to regulatory issues for third-party agencies. Communicating by telephone is becoming less effective these days.

If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
Maybe a meteorologist or storm chaser … I’ve got a passion for all things weather.

Describe a typical work day
Up at 5 AM (6 AM office time), go to my home office and check that we’ve received certain files from high-priority clients and get them updated for our agents. Update office screens with current results and ensure data files for reports are coming to our SFTP as scheduled. Then I go out and run @ 6 AM every morning for an hour and eat a quick breakfast before getting back to my home office. Morning reports are posted on our SharePoint sites for managers to view, while external reports are provided for clients. Then I have a mixture of meetings, calls with clients, and development time to work on new projects. I try to spend additional time in the afternoon reviewing productivity reports and auditing areas of focus/concern. Late afternoon around 4 PM (5 PM office time) I try to get out for another run/walk to stretch after a day at my desk. Then I usually check emails one last time after that and shut things down for the day.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Trail mix … I’ve got an addiction to that stuff. As a Utah resident … I hike a lot on the weekends. There is no end to the trails and places to explore. I’ve always got that stuff with me in my backpack.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A theater teacher in college 30 years ago once told our class something and it’s stuck with me: stand up for yourself, and don’t let others determine how you are going to feel. Take a stand for what you believe in and don’t conform if you don’t feel right about doing so. Her words gave me a shot of self-confidence that I’m not sure I had before that.

What are you currently reading?
The Pizza Connection” by Shana Alexander. It’s about one of the longest-running criminal trials ever in federal court. I became interested when I had heard about it … and realized I used to frequent one of the pizza restaurants involved in the Badalamenti crime family scandal when I was in college.

What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
If you need something from me … or need my help … you’ll get my best effort. If I’m going to do something, then I’m going to do it right.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Gina Eggebrecht, First Collection Services

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

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