Below is a Q&A with Melinda Perry, assistant vice president of internal operations in Remarketing Solutions at GM Financial and a 2017 Women in Remarketing honoree.
Auto Remarketing: What was your path to the automotive industry, and what do you enjoy most about working in the car business?
Melinda Perry: I began working in the automotive industry in 2002 as a collections representative with GM Financial, which was then AmeriCredit. Initially, I found it discomforting calling customers on delinquent accounts, but quickly became successful by leveraging my inherent need to help others.
I continued progressing in collections for nine years, promoting to a team lead position and later managing the transition of a newly acquired portfolio.
In 2010, I was able to attend a “mock” auction event hosted by Dan Heinrich, SVP of Remarketing Solutions.
While I was passionate about my career in collections and had goals to continue my career there, I found remarketing to be exhilarating and full of energy. At that time, there were only three team lead positions in remarketing. As if it were meant to be, a position became available a few months later. I quickly applied and joined the remarketing team. Ultimately, my journey has lead me here, as Remarketing Solutions’ Assistant Vice President of Internal Operations at GM Financial.
AR: How is the remarketing/used-car segment of the business most different from when you first started out?
MP: In 2011, when I first began in remarketing, we were selling “well-loved”, subprime, APR repossessions solely by running them through the lanes at physical auctions. Our remarketing department consisted of approximately 45 employees.
Today, as GM’s captive lender, GM Financial’s Remarketing Solutions department has transformed the way we remarket our vehicles. With, a team of 136 employees in remarketing (and growing), we now offer low-mileage, well-maintained, off-lease vehicles, GM company cars and rentals, as well as repossessions. We spent countless hours developing our private label website, GMFDealerSource.com and .ca, allowing us the ability to offer our off-lease and GM company car inventory online, upstream to our franchise dealers followed by midstream to all registered dealers. Processes we were previously able to perform manually, now require technology and automation to manage the volume and numerous requirements.
AR: How would you describe your leadership style and approach to problem-solving?
MP: I most definitely consider myself a servant leader. I am passionate and committed in everything I do, including developing my team. I would never expect my team to do anything I am not willing to do myself. My goal from the moment I accepted a leadership position was to positively influence the lives of others. While I have high expectations of my team members, they always know I not only care about the success of the business, I care about helping them reach their professional goals.
I invest time in my staff and make it a priority to be available to support them. I am a strong believer in if you put your people first, the rest will take care of itself. I make it simple for my team. My expectation is, “Always do what is right.” You can be one of the most intelligent leaders in an organization, but if you lack integrity, others will not follow you.
AR: What have been some of the top keys to your success in the car business?
MP: Building relationships, being genuine and having a strong work ethic are the keys to my success. As soon as I joined Remarketing, I knew it was a perfect fit. We are always trying something new. During our less busy times of the year we didn’t slow down and relax. We took advantage of the time and tested new processes. Although we necessarily do not have “slow” times in today’s world, we continue to encourage new ideas and change. We are constantly looking at ways technology can be used to drive efficiencies. We understand there are always better, faster, more efficient ways of doing business and we continuously explore those opportunities. This mentality is key in today’s competitive market.
AR: Who are some folks, whether in the auto industry or not, that you admire professionally, and why?
MP: Not only was I drawn to the excitement of the remarketing industry, the culture within our Remarketing Solutions department is unlike any I had ever experienced. It was and still is a true team atmosphere. Everyone is busy, everyone works hard. I remember walking down a hallway with my SVP, Dan Heinrich; as we passed by someone external to Remarketing, Dan greeted the gentleman by his name and even inquired about the family, recalling the names of his wife and child. Dan continues to do that today, even after Remarketing’s headcount has tripled. He takes time to personally meet each and every team member.
There was once an occasion where we were in jeopardy of missing our mail deadline for the day and team members throughout the entire department were pitching in, stuffing envelopes and typing certified receipts. Dan came out of his office, walked over, grabbed a stack of envelopes and was ready to help. While we all have our individual roles and responsibilities, we all work together for one common goal. Dan’s thoughtfulness and dedication inspires me to be a better leader. Everything he does is intentional. His vision for the future of Remarketing has allowed us to continue to be successful throughout this explosive growth and change. I am honored to work in this environment filled with trust, integrity and commitment.
AR: When you are able to get away from the office or work, what do you enjoy? What are your hobbies, interests, etc.?
MP: Growing up, my parents always had time for me. They never missed any of my sporting events, even during the winter when I had to play on the boy’s high school soccer team and rarely played more than 20 minutes a game. They taught me the value of family. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to marry a man whose family shares the same values. When I am not in the office, I enjoy being surrounded by my family and a few close friends. I love hosting casual dinners and social events at my home. I often entertain my guests with a friendly game of Texas hold ’em or a cornhole tournament.
Read about all of this year's Women in Remarketing honorees in the April 1 issue of Auto Remarketing.