As an Associate Director at AccountAbility in Melbourne, I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Kristie Gatti, a seasoned professional in the credit management and collections industry. Kristie, who currently works as a Credit Manager at Interactive, a cloud-based company, has an impressive journey through various sectors of the credit market. In this interview, we delved into her experiences and gained valuable insights into the world of credit management.
An introduction to credit
Kristie's journey in the credit management field wasn't always a part of her grand plan. When she finished school, she aspired to be an architect but ended up studying engineering. After a temporary role as a debt collector, she found herself immersed in an industry that has evolved significantly over the years. Kristie noted that while there are aspects of frustration in this field, the satisfaction of achieving goals and helping people is what kept her going.
Kristie’s career evolution
Kristie‘s career began at AGL, where she initially handled both consumer and business-to-business collections. After being made permanent, she was presented with an opportunity to become a team leader, which required her to relocate to Adelaide. Although her time there wasn't particularly enjoyable, her subsequent role as the operations manager on Hamilton Island provided her with a different perspective on stress and teamwork.
Upon returning to Melbourne, Kristie resumed her journey with AGL, this time as a team leader in business-to-business collections. This phase equipped her with valuable stress management skills. She eventually ascended to the role of National Credit Manager at AGL before transitioning to the distribution sector with Powercore. Her preference for business-to-business interactions led her to her current role with Interactive, where she has been for 18 months.
Transitioning industries: From utilities to IT
One significant transition in Kristie’s career was moving from the utilities sector to the IT services industry. Worried about the change, she discovered that the core principles of credit management remained constant. Regardless of the industry, building relationships with customers and internal stakeholders, understanding your customers, and working collaboratively as a team were fundamental aspects of success.
The power of relationships in credit management
When asked about the best advice she ever received and the advice she'd give to newcomers in the industry, Kristie emphasised the importance of relationships. In her previous role in utilities, the priority was higher due to the essential nature of electricity. She advises new professionals to focus on building relationships with customers and internal stakeholders, as successful credit management depends on teamwork and trust.
Keeping up with regulatory changes
In the credit management field, staying updated on regulatory changes is essential. Kristie pointed out that while business-to-business credit is relatively stable when it comes to legislative changes, consumer credit undergoes frequent adjustments. She suggested being part of organisations like the Australian Institute of Credit Management, attending webinars, and seeking advice from peers to keep abreast of changes.
Challenges in the current credit market
The credit market is currently facing a set of unique challenges. Kristie emphasised that while relationship building is vital, business efficiencies and automation are increasingly becoming hurdles. AI and automation systems can create a barrier to establishing personal connections with customers. In such cases, the support of sales teams in building relationships becomes essential. Understanding data and using it to manage the health of your portfolio is also a crucial part of the job.
Post-Covid changes in credit management
Kristie highlighted that the credit landscape has transformed post-Covid. Businesses have become more flexible, and hybrid working models have changed how professionals contact customers. The need for efficiency has driven many companies to adopt automated systems. Despite these changes, the fundamental foundations of credit management remain the same - knowing your customers, understanding their industries, and staying informed about their financial health.
Kristie’s insights into the world of credit management shed light on the evolving challenges and opportunities in the industry. Her emphasis on relationship building and adaptability in the face of changing technologies and regulations provides a valuable perspective for both veterans and newcomers to the field. Kristie's journey from architectural aspirations to credit management success is a testament to the possibilities that can unfold in one's career journey.
If you are looking for further advice on your career or career progression, reach out to me here for a confidential conversation.
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