The following is an excerpt from the January 2023 issue of Business Credit Magazine.
By: Jamilex Gotay
For nearly 35 years, DeAnna Leahy, CCE, has served NACM as a member, National Board Director (since 2019) and will now step into the role as NACM Chair. She has made the most out of her B2B credit career, and has some big plans for the future of NACM.
Q: What led you to work in B2B credit management?
A: I don’t think as a student in high school we typically say “I want to be a credit manager when I grow up.” [laughs]. I think most of us just kind of end up in credit, find that we like it and so we stay in credit.
After high school, I started college in the hopes of becoming a forest ranger. That quickly changed as I put school on hold to start my family. In 1988, I moved to St. George, UT and found a job as a credit assistant for Clyde Companies (Orem, UT) which led to my position as Corporate Credit Manager. So, I kind of fell into credit and then just grew from there. Later on, I attended Dixie State College and Utah Valley University, where I majored in Business Management.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a part of NACM?
A: I just love the education programs and the designation programs, as well as the products that those programs offer, like the National Trade Credit Report and the Industry Trade Credit Groups. I really enjoy the support that I get both at the local affiliate level and at the national level.
Q: How do you feel about being elected as NACM Chair for 2023?
A: I’m really excited and nervous because I know there are a lot of great people out there who can lead our national organization as Chair. I feel a little pressure from that but I’m excited about it.
Q: What steps did you take to get here?
A: First, I worked on my education designation process. After that, I started volunteering to be on committees, like the education committee, the entertainment committee and the programs committee. That volunteering got my name out there to be on the Board of my Affiliate. I served on my Affiliate Board for a couple of years and that lead to me serving on the national board, which lead to me being on the ballot for chair elect.
Q: What challenges did you face along the way?
A: I used to commute 300 miles to take classes at my affiliate since they didn’t offer a lot of remote classes. So, taking the classes when I was so far away from everyone else that was doing this was a little difficult. Later on, I found out about Credit Congress’s five-day designation program classes, which also brought on a new challenge. It was challenging because of the limited amount of time to learn a wealth of information and then pass the test. So, I used all my free time there to study. I’m just glad to see they’re offering more remote classes now, so that more people can participate if they want.
Q: What are your greatest accomplishments in your career?
A: I think being elected the chair of the national board is at the top. It was an honor for me and my company, Clyde Companies, to receive the President’s Award of Excellence in 2018. It was nice to celebrate that since we had a lot of employees that year. In 2009, I received the CBF Designation of Excellence Award, an NACM National Award.
Another thing I’m proud of is serving on boards. In 2014, I was appointed by Governor Gary Herbert of Utah to serve as Board Chair for the Utah Residence Lien Recovery Fund Board until 2020. I continue to serve on the Utah Construction Suppliers Association Board and the NACM Business Credit Services Board since 2017. I’ve also served on the NACM National Board since 2019.
Q: What is the secret to your success?
A: It’s all about having a strong work ethic. I make sure to go above and beyond to get my designations and be recognized. This mentality helped me as a single mom of small kids, but I had to sacrifice personal time away from them to accomplish these goals.
Q: What are your goals for the future of NACM and what do you hope to accomplish as Chair?
A: My goal is to help us move beyond these challenging, post-COVID times and help us remain successful in the future. I hope that we find new ways to recruit the next generation of credit management professionals by finding out what interests them and what they’re looking for in NACM. My focus is to mentor them best I can.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the B2B credit field?
A: I would definitely say, be active in NACM. Be active in the credit education process by getting your credentials and designations. Volunteer on committees and serve where you can. When you attend Credit Congress, take advantage of networking opportunities because you never know when those opportunities will come into play. After networking, you’ll be able to have credit professionals you can reach out to when you need help or advice on anything.