A rising tide lifts all boats. A saying that describes Michaela Strand’s ascendance up the corporate ladder at Wakefield & Associates — because she excels at empowering those around her to achieve their own personal and professional goals. It’s amazing that her team says that about her, but it’s even more impressive that it’s true. Read on to learn more about Michaela, her certainty of what she would be if not working in collections, and why being pulled in a million directions is a walk in the park for her.
Name: Michaela Strand
Current Role/Job Title: Director of Compliance Operations
Company: Wakefield & Associates, LLC
Length of time at current company: 13 years
Length of time in industry: 13 years
How did you get your start in the industry?
After graduating college, I was seeking an entry level position that would allow me to develop experience, build on my communication skills, and be part of a successful team. I started with Wakefield as a legal collector and was quickly promoted to Training Coordinator. I’ve also had the opportunity to serve as Wakefield’s Compliance and Training Specialist, Collection Manager, Director of Collection Operations, and now serve as the Director of Compliance Operations.
What is your career highlight so far?
Something I really enjoy is developing those around me. I have watched many individuals on my team advance themselves both personally and professionally.
When or how are you most productive?
Trial by fire. I am a deadline driven and work well under pressure.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
I have had the amazing(and rare!) opportunity to be mentored by two of the industry greats: Debra Ciskey and Karen Scheibe Eliason. I am forever grateful for their guidance, leadership, and willingness to share their knowledge.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I am not one to toot my own horn, so I called in my team for reinforcements. They said that I have a strong ability to cultivate relationships and make those around me empowered to achieve both personal and team goals.
What do you like most about this industry?
The ever-changing regulatory climate is always challenging and it keeps me on my toes!
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
I wish more insightful education was available to consumers. You can Google millions of ways to avoid paying debt collectors. It would be nice to see advocates supporting the debt collection industry and speaking to the benefits of working with our agencies.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I would be a history teacher.
Describe a typical work day
I generally start by creating and prioritizing a to do list. From there, no two days are alike. I often get pulled in a million directions — but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Any show on Bravo. Especially the Real Housewives.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Sometimes, done is better than perfect. Also, “be brief, be bright, be gone” (from the great Wendy Harness).
What are you currently reading?
“A Slow Fire Burning” by Paula Hawkins.
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
Although my job is very serious, I still find ways to have fun with my colleagues. I have incredibly fond memories with all of those I have met at conferences and other various industry events.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Anne Dannhausen, Provana.