Getting to Know Bob Burnside of Telrock Systems

Chances are, from the sound of it, if there is a job somewhere inside a collection operation, Bob Burnside has done it, and likely done it well. Recognizing that spending more than three decades in the industry is an accomplishment in and of itself, Bob doesn’t take his longevity and success lightly. Read on to learn more about Bob, some of the things you can cook in a smoker that you didn’t think would ever be smoked, and all the things around his house that he made with his own two hands.

Name: Bob Burnside
Current Role/Job Title: My current job title is Product Manager. My role is a combination of supporting the Optimus sales teams by attending conferences and conducting product demonstrations combined with my Optimus Product responsibilities including new development testing, product development, delivery team support, and product support with other Optimus departments.
Company: Telrock Systems, Inc.
Length of time at current company: While I have been involved with Optimus for six years now in an advisory capacity, I have been an official part of the company for 3-1/2 years.
Length of time in industry: I have been in the industry for 32 years now. The first half of my career saw me in operations moving from collector to managing call centers. The second half of my career has seen me move away from operations into non-operations roles including application developer on a collection platform, IT security, buying and selling debt or agency management. I have been very fortunate to work in most functional areas of our industry.

How did you get your start in the industry?
I was working in retail, tired of it, and wanted a new job. A friend was a collector, worked fewer hours than I was working in retail, and made more money. I got an interview, got the collector job, and 32 years later, here I am.

What is your career highlight so far?
Overall, being in the industry for 32 years is my highlight. Not many people can stay in the same industry for that long. Regardless of my role or title, I have always been very technology driven. My true highlight is being with Telrock, a company with a great work environment and co-workers with whom I truly enjoy working and whose mission is creating what I believe is the best collection system in the industry.

When or how are you most productive?
I am most productive in an environment where I am relaxed, where I have earned the ability to not be micro-managed, and where I am allowed to do what I can do. I need to be in an ethical environment. I would rather finish last and clean than first dirty and cannot work for companies or people who feel otherwise. The environment needs to be one of safety and trust also. People cannot be afraid to bring up ideas, admit mistakes, or offer advice.

Which industry professional do you admire most?
There are so many amazing people in our industry I have been lucky enough to know that I cannot really name just one person. How could someone look at all the people across our industry and pick just one. Kind of like picking the best band or best artist.

What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
Not so sure I do anything better than anyone else. I like to think I am a jack of all trades and do pretty well at most of them. If I think I do things better than others I might stop trying to get better.

What do you like most about this industry?
I like the people. Most of the people I have met are good people who will help others and in general work for the best not only of their employers but the industry as a whole. I like that the industry is ever changing, especially in technology. Seeing the industry change from working on file cards to AS-400 based systems to now being part of a company that is at the leading edge of technology has been amazing.

What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
I would like to see consistency in the rules of the game. Likely never see it, but it is a sticky point of me and countless others in our industry. Nobody can successfully play the game when the rules vary, are inconsistently applied, and have no hard, non-discretionary oversight.

If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I do not know what I would be doing if not in this industry. I would like to work for a music label signing new acts for the label. Two of my dream jobs are doing voice overs for movies, video games and such and being a football stadium announcer.

Describe a typical work day
A great part about my typical workday is that it is not boring or mundane. My normal workday combines product testing, helping our Support Services team with client support tickets, planning product demonstrations and other pre-sales needs, and learning new Optimus products. In short, my workday consists of helping Telrock make Optimus the industry’s leading edge collection platform.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Cooking and eating! I like trying all types of food from all countries. If I had to pick one specific guilty pleasure, it would be BBQ. I have tried smoking about everything you could smoke including things like watermelon and chocolate chip cookies.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Professionally, it is to make sure you have balance. “Work to live, do not live to work.”

Personally, I have been given two great bits of advice. The first is “Happy wife, happy life.” The second is, the two best words to say to keep your relationship good are “Yes Dear!”

What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Mike Royko The Chicago Tribune Collection 1984 – 1997. I bought the Chicago Daily News, Sun Times, and Tribune for years just to read Mike Royko’s columns. He was a great writer whose columns are light, enjoyable, and fun to read even if you have never lived in Chicago.

What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
My favorite hobby, other than being a life-long Buffalo Bills fan, is wood working. Be it making a wooden model ship, my wife’s desk, our patio table, or something as simple as a cutting board, I enjoy building pretty much anything with wood.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Would like to see our new SVP-Sales Lynne Labrador become involved. Most websites that have features like this seem to focus on the same people. Would be nice to see some folks get their recognition who we do not see all the time. I do not have specific names, just the general idea.

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