One of the great benefits in publishing these profiles week after week is the chance to shine a spotlight on people whose contributions to the industry help keep moving it forward but who maybe haven’t risen to a level of prominence … yet. Nina Cunningham, who has owned her own collection industry for the past five years, fits that bill. Putting in the long hours it takes to run her own business is rewarding for Cunningham, who knows that her work keeps people from losing their jobs. Read on to learn more about Cunningham, the pride she has in her family, and why you shouldn’t judge her for liking reality television.
Name: Nina Cunningham
Current Role/Job Title: President/CEO
Company: Illinois Collections Inc.
Length of time at current company: 5 years, 2 months (since its inception)
Length of time in industry: 20 years
How did you get your start in the industry?
I was a paralegal at a law firm. I learned the processes for post-judgment collection through wage deductions, Third-Party Citations, placing liens on real property, and more. In 2017, I decided to form a collection agency.
What is your career highlight so far?
I helped a small construction business avoid closing by successfully collecting on a large judgment there were owed. It feels good to know that we saved quite a few people from losing their job.
When or how are you most productive?
Most people think that when you own your own business, you can work very little while making a lot of money. Those of us who are true entrepreneurs know the truth. My day starts before my staff clocks in and ends after they clock out. It also motivates them to work hard because they see the boss working hard beside them.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
To be honest, I am not familiar with a lot of people in the industry. However, I admire all who stand up for creditor’s rights.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
We excel at collecting on post judgment debts. We have attorneys on staff and on contract.
What do you like most about this industry?
It saves jobs. Too many small businesses fail because people take their services and refuse to pay their bill. Those businesses need an advocate. We are their advocate.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
I wish judges would stop acting as counsel for the judgment debtors. They should make sure we are following the correct procedures, but they should not advocate from the bench.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I would probably be an author. I enjoy writing, but I rarely find the time.
Describe a typical work day
I am up at 6am to do my hour workout. My day officially starts at 8am. I review the court call for the day and make sure the attorneys know the cases. I review each account manager’s summary of files to see their productivity with their assigned clients. My workday typically ends at 8pm.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Reality television. I know it is killing my brain cells, but I can’t help myself.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t expect other people to see your vision. Even those who love you the most will doubt your vision. They don’t see it. That’s because it is your vision, not theirs.
What are you currently reading?
“Caste: The Origins of our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
I am a proud mother of two boys and the wife of an incredible man. They are my pride and joy.