February 27, 2024

Colleague Corner: U.S.-based Colleagues and Members of Encore’s Black Employee Network Share What Economic Freedom Means to Them

Welcome to Encore’s Colleague Corner. In this web series, we’ll get a chance to learn from our colleagues across Encore about their careers and what our Mission to create pathways to economic freedom means to them, while touching on aspects of our culture.

For our inaugural post during Black History Month, we reached out to three colleagues in the United States who are members of Encore’s employee resource group (ERG), Black Employee Network (BEN), to share their experiences at Encore.

  • Rudy Wagoner works as an HR Specialist for Midland Credit Management (MCM) at Encore’s global headquarters in San Diego. She has been with the company 3 years.
  • Greg Travers is an Account Manager in MCM’s Phoenix office and has been with the company 4.5 years.
  • Chanel Wilkerson, Group Manager Operations, works in MCM’s Troy, Michigan office and has been with the company 5 years.

Q: What are your interests or career goals, and how did they lead you to join the company?

Rudy: From a young age, I’ve been passionate about helping others, a value deeply engrained in me by parents — my father, a military veteran, and my mother, a nurse. They both were incredibly hard-working and dedicated to helping others. This passion drove me to join MCM, as I firmly believe that this company embodies the values I was taught as a child.

My career aspirations include becoming an integral part of MCM’s commitment to enhancing financial literacy among consumers and helping them find a better way to financial independence. Working in the human resources department, I believe my role has a direct impact on MCM’s employees. I’m committed to offering the same level of support and guidance to enable our MCM team to extend the same service to consumers.

Greg: I always gravitated toward jobs in the sales field. Prior to working at MCM, I was an insurance agent for almost six years. I came across MCM at a job fair in the same week I moved to Arizona. Compensation sounded attractive, and I thought I could do this until I found an insurance job that fit my needs. Three months into the job I found myself really connecting to helping people restore their financial health and realized that I didn’t have the need to return to insurance.

Chanel: I have always been interested in the legal field. I found out about MCM through a temp agency. I had just earned my paralegal certificate and was looking to exercise my skillset. I started as a temp hire with MCM, contracted to work for an eight-month project. Before the end of my contract, I was extended an offer as a full-time employee, and here I am today, five years later, serving as a Group Manager in the Post Judgment Department.

Q: Our Mission is to help create pathways to economic freedom. What does that mean to you? What do you think it means to our consumers?

Rudy: Assisting others in developing a straightforward, relatable, and effective approach to managing their finances and educating them on achieving their dream of financial freedom. Our consumers are looking for a reliable partnership — a company that goes beyond settling debts to genuinely committing to transforming the financial well-being of our consumers, all while helping them balance their day-to-day lives.

Greg: Economic freedom means freedom from debt to me and to our consumers.

Chanel: Creating pathways to financial freedom to me means having enough funds to afford the life that consumers desire for themselves, as well as for their families. I think to consumers this means working with them to find ways to clear out any old debt and offer some relief from financial burdens.

Q: Helping people restore their financial health makes me feel ________

Rudy: Like I am finding a better way to help others regain control of their lives, which is very powerful and moving for me.

Greg and Chanel: Accomplished!

Underpinned by our Value of inclusion, our ERGs help foster a culture where all colleagues can thrive by embracing dedicated communities for our colleagues to extend mutual support and pursue professional development and mentorship opportunities. We invited our colleagues to share their experiences as members of Encore’s BEN.

Q: What led you to join BEN?

Rudy: I joined because it’s the first time I’ve found a group with backgrounds and experiences so similar to mine. It offers a sense of community within MCM that is so incredibly special and dear to my heart.

Greg: I joined BEN because I always partook in community organizations since I was in high school working with the NAACP Youth Council in Cleveland, Ohio. I continued to work with other community organizations such as Jobs Have Priorities (JHP) and Covington House when I moved to Washington, D.C. My philosophy in life is that you can either be a part of the solution or problem. I believe that joining this group helps me be a part of the solution.

Chanel: I’m a very social person, and I love interacting with others, especially those who share common interests and values. I discovered BEN through my interactions with others. I was extended an offer to join a BEN event and after experiencing the connection amongst the group, I decided to become a member.

Q: What would you say to a colleague considering joining BEN or another company employee resource group (ERG)?

Rudy: Joining an ERG is one of the most valuable opportunities you can seize for your career growth.

Greg: I would definitely encourage them to join. ERGs were created to give employees an opportunity to build community. It allows one to gain insight from people that share unique qualities like race and sexual orientation.

Chanel: The ERGs here at Encore offer an empowered environment to be yourself without judgment. These groups also offer support and resources for career development, a variety of activities and plenty of community service. If you’re struggling with inclusion, joining an ERG would be a great place to start.

Q: What would you say to a colleague who wants to get involved in BEN as an ally?

Rudy: The larger our ERG alliance becomes, the more it opens up opportunities to encounter diverse ideas, which in turn promotes the success of both our company and our fellow employees.

Greg: For those who want to be an ally to BEN or another ERG, I would encourage them to partake in the all-inclusive activities and meetings as a guest. Not to say that your opinion isn’t important, but it’s better to get an understanding of the ERG’s mission prior to offering suggestions. As you become accustomed to the ERG’s mission and goals, you can offer suggestions and assistance.

Chanel: BEN is always open to working with other allies to support the overall objective of diversity and inclusion. This is great for coming together and interacting with one another. Even if you don’t directly identify with an ERG, your drive to support this ERG is greatly appreciated and recognized.

Special thanks to Rudy, Greg and Chanel for participating in our inaugural Colleague Corner. Be on the lookout for insights from more of your colleagues in the future.