Mimi Wise is the Human Resources Director of General Revenue Corporation (GRC), a college- and university-focused collection agency, where she has set the tone for its corporate culture and streamlined recruitment. During her 20+ years in the HR industry, she has received numerous awards and recognitions. Recently, because of her stellar leadership and innovative initiatives, GRC won the prestigious “2023 Best Places to Work in Collections” award – often cited as the hallmark of excellence in the collections industry. “It [winning the award] was a truly remarkable experience,” she says. “Every employee worked together and collaborated to win this honor.”
Mimi is passionate about what she does. It has enabled her to achieve outstanding outcomes in the HR space. Her HR-related personal goals highlight her insightful, innovative, and people-centric leadership. She believes in developing a comprehensive HR strategy that aligns with the organization’s goals and objectives.
She always wants to establish a culture of fairness, trust, and collaboration, foster a positive work environment where employees feel respected and valued, and ensure compliance with applicable employment laws and regulations, such as staying informed of industry trends and best practices. Like most inspirational HR leaders, Mimi, too, is invested in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion across the organization.
Another key goal of hers is the continuous development and implementation of effective recruitment, retention, and training policies and procedures. In addition to that, she also intends to develop and implement more effective performance management and employee engagement programs. Mimi recognizes that technology is reshaping the HR industry, and therefore, she wants to continue leveraging it to streamline and improve HR processes and establish and monitor performance metrics to measure HR effectiveness.
And as she is a human-centric HR leader, employees are her top priority. So, she wants to ensure employee satisfaction and advocate for and promote employee career development and growth opportunities.
“Blessed” is how she describes herself in a word. For her, this word is all-inclusive. “I believe we are wholly dependent on God and without Him, we would not be who we are, look the way we look, know what we know, have what we have, or lead the life we live,” she says.
The Steps that Led to the HR Industry
A combination of her personal experiences and the experiences of those around her inspired Mimi to take a plunge into the HR industry. Growing up, she had a strong connection with people and wanted to make sure that everyone was getting the best out of their education and job to live their best life. This led her to the realization that HR was the perfect avenue to help make that happen.
Mimi also saw that HR could be a real asset to businesses, and it made her want to be a part of that process. “I wholeheartedly saw the potential to make a real difference in people’s lives as a ‘resource to the humans,’ which pushed me to initially and now continuously, to work in the HR field,” she says.
In college, Mimi took a course that focused on organizational behavior and human resources management. Because of that, she gained an introductory view of the field. The course also sparked her interest in the HR industry. “I was instantly drawn to the wide range of topics that were discussed,” she says. Mimi was particularly interested in the creation of a workplace culture that is not only beneficial to the employees but also helps a company reach its goals and objectives.
“After taking the course, I decided to pursue a career in HR and I have continued to learn and expand my knowledge in the field,” Mimi points out. She later obtained a Master’s degree in HR with an emphasis in organizational behavior and human resources management and on her way to receiving her Doctorate’s degree with the same emphasis in 2024.
Lessons Learned from Challenges
One of Mimi’s favorite quotes is Michaeal Jordan’s “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” She has been doing that since the beginning of her career.
She has navigated a series of challenges to make a place for herself in the top echelons of the HR industry. And she has learned something valuable from each challenge. One of the valuable lessons she learned is how to manage competing priorities. She explains that an HR professional has to evaluate the importance of each task and determine which should take priority. “This can be challenging,” she adds. “And I am not a big fan of multi-tasking. With it, you are never giving 100 percent to one single project, and every task deserves its appropriate attention.”
So, Mimi learned how to prioritize tasks and manage competing demands. By following this approach, she is able to stay organized, be more efficient in her work, and more effective as a leader. She also, very early in her career, understood the importance of developing a robust knowledge of HR regulations. She realized that in order to provide the best advice to the business and its stakeholders, she must stay up to date with all relevant HR regulations and laws in multiple states. “This taught me the importance of staying current and informed, as well as how to best advise Executive Management on how to remain compliant,” she says. “And this was super important and super challenging at the same time during the Pandemic.”
HR professionals often have to handle difficult conversations with employees; for example, when they are being let go or regarding performance improvement plans. Mimi, too, has to do that, and this can be quite challenging. “This has taught me how to be sensitive to the emotions involved and how to communicate effectively and respectfully,” she says.
About General Revenue Corporation
GRC operates from the headquarters office located in Mason, Ohio, with employees nationwide. It services more than 1,000 clients across the U.S. It was founded in November 1981 to specialize in the collection of education-related receivables. Through the years, it has emerged from modest beginnings to become one of the largest collection agencies in the country. It currently serves clients in the education and government industries, offering assistance in the recovery of their receivables.
At GRC, Mimi directly reports to its
President, Zenon M. Butts, who considers himself a proud employee of a business
that takes a holistic and personal approach to the debt collection industry.
“This approach begins with our reputation, culture, and a collecting philosophy that has earned us a place in the top five on the list of the ‘Best Places to Work in Collections,’ and Mimi played a valuable role for GRC to receive this year’s recognition,” he says.
Establishing a Culture of Integrity
At the company, Mimi ensures a culture of integrity by hiring the right people. She points out that putting the right person in the right seat is crucial for fostering that culture. Following that, she communicates clear expectations and policies. Mimi says that establishing a culture of integrity starts with setting clear expectations and policies that emphasize the importance of honesty and ethical behavior. She, therefore, makes sure that everyone in the company is aware of these expectations and policies and can access them easily.
She also believes in creating an environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up and voicing their opinions. This, according to her, helps to ensure that any potential ethical issues are brought to light quickly and addressed appropriately.
Mimi invests in training and development as well, and she makes sure that training also focuses on ethical behavior and decision-making. This helps to ensure that everyone in the company has the knowledge and skills to make the right decisions and act with integrity.
And she leads by example. “As an Executive of the Company, it is important to demonstrate the behavior you expect from your team,” Mimi says. She strives to live up to the values and expectations that she has set.
Embracing the Use of Modern Technology
Mimi has embraced modern technology, and by using it, she is contributing to the reshaping of the HR industry. She points out that technology has had a profound impact on the HR industry. It has revolutionized the way organizations manage and track their employees, resulting in increased efficiency and cost savings. In addition to that, it has also allowed HR departments to automate many of their processes, such as recruitment, onboarding, and performance management, according to her.
With the help of technology, organizations can track and analyze data on employee engagement, performance, and satisfaction as well. Mimi explains that it allows HR teams to identify trends and make informed decisions. “I also feel technology has enabled HR teams to communicate more effectively with their workforce, providing more detailed feedback and more training opportunities,” she adds.
She is leveraging technology to increase employee engagement and enhance the employee experience. Mimi says that she has developed and implemented a number of innovative HR initiatives. They have helped reduce onboarding times, streamline the recruitment process, and improve communication between HR and employees.
“Additionally, I have been working to build a more efficient, agile, and cost-effective HR system by optimizing processes and aligning HR with organizational goals,” Mimi says. She has also been leveraging AI and machine learning to automate manual HR tasks, reduce data entry errors, and provide real-time insights into employee productivity.
Skills Needed to Lead in the HR Industry
In a message for aspiring HR leaders, Mimi shares some of the essential skills she feels they need to become successful and influential.
Technology: The HR field is constantly evolving with advancements in
technology. Stay updated with the latest HR software, tools, and
automation solutions. Embracing technology can streamline processes,
improve efficiency, and enhance the employee experience.
strong interpersonal skills: While technology is important, HR
professionals also need strong interpersonal skills. Focus on developing
your communication, empathy, and relationship-building abilities.
Effective HR professionals are able to connect with employees, understand
their needs, and provide appropriate support.
informed about employment laws and regulations: Employment laws and
regulations are constantly changing. It’s crucial for HR professionals to
stay updated with the latest legal requirements to ensure compliance and
protect the organization from potential legal issues. Regularly attend
seminars, workshops, and training programs to stay informed.
- Foster a
diverse and inclusive workplace: Diversity and inclusion are key to
creating a positive work environment. As an HR professional, strive to
create policies and initiatives that promote diversity, equality, and
inclusivity. Encourage diverse hiring practices, implement inclusive
policies, and provide training on unconscious bias.
employee well-being: Employee well-being should be a top priority for HR
professionals. Implement initiatives that promote work-life balance,
mental health support, and employee wellness programs. Listen to employee
feedback, conduct regular surveys, and take action to address their
data-driven: Utilize HR analytics and metrics to make informed decisions.
Collect relevant data on employee performance, engagement, turnover, and
other key HR metrics. Analyze this data to identify trends, make
improvements, and support strategic decision-making.
learn and adapt: The HR field is constantly evolving, so it’s important to
have a growth mindset and be open to learning. Stay updated with industry
trends, participate in webinars, and join professional HR associations.
Continuously adapt your skills and knowledge to stay relevant in the
ever-changing HR landscape.
Remember, the role of HR professionals is to support the organization and its employees. By embracing technology, developing interpersonal skills, staying informed, fostering diversity and inclusion, prioritizing employee well-being, being data-driven, and continuously learning, you can become a successful HR professional in the future.
What Is Success?
Mimi believes that it is a success when she achieves something that she has set out to do, whether that is something small or something big. “It is a feeling of accomplishment and pride in yourself, your abilities, and your talents,” she says. She feels a sense of satisfaction, happiness, and contentment when she achieves something important to her.
For her, success is also about striving to continuously become better and reach higher goals. “Success is not just a one-time event, but a journey of progress and growth,” Mimi says. “It is important to remember that success is subjective, and what may be success for one person may not be the same for another.”
A Note from the President
Mimi sets the tone for our corporate
culture by concentrating on how our employees can contribute to their personal
success, which she is incredible at doing. I, in turn, focus on how those
contributions lead to the success of the business as a whole. Our clients are
our focus, but our employees are our heart.
Mimi and her department are instrumental in
continually looking for new talent during our period of growth. The way she has
streamlined recruiting for the company is inconceivable, to say the least. A
healthy work environment matters as we are able to hire and keep the most
experienced collectors who are a good fit for our culture of success. We have a
very low attrition rate, which is challenging in this industry. The average
number of years of experience held by our collectors is over 16, and those held
by our leadership are over 20. People choose to remain employed at GRC because
of the encouraging and considerate treatment they receive, which in turn is
extended to customers. Our clients come first and are supported by the best of
the best in collections.
Because we work as an extension of our
clients, our primary concerns are ensuring successful recoveries and excellent
customer service. We treat each and every customer with decency, respect, and
kindness, and we always strive for the most effective method to resolve
accounts for our clients and the customers they serve. We adhere to the
principle of the “golden rule” and treat others in the manner in
which we would like to be treated ourselves.
It’s simple to say these words, but
“It’s not what you preach; it’s what you tolerate.” GRC does not
tolerate the abuse of clients, workers, or customers. We uphold our integrity
in every conversation and in every interaction, whether it be with clients,
customers, or each other. We achieve this level of compliance and customer
service through the use of stringent four-step interviewing, an extended
training period, top-of-the-line compliance, and checks and balances through
the use of AI and personal monitoring on a call-by-call basis.
Training for each and every employee is
ongoing. Following an initial phase of intensive training that lasts for three
weeks, collectors are then assigned to a training team, where they work live
calls with other collectors and managers for a period of one month.
Certifications are renewed annually, and hands-on training is maintained, but
the atmosphere is one of teaching rather than one of progressive discipline.
Training like this is provided to employees at every level of the company.
In addition to our successful culture, we
are committed to compliance. Our Compliance Officer and Regulatory Risk Manager
is a Credit and Collection Compliance Officer (CCCO) certified by ACA
International. We are certified under the updated standard ISO 900:2015, so our
clients can be confident in all our processes and procedures, as they are
audited and continually monitored to ensure they meet or exceed the benchmark
of the International Organization for Standardization.
The thoughts that have been communicated
today are the thoughts we possess and work hard to achieve on a daily basis.
Everything we do is done with intention, and our intention is to provide the
highest level of work in all facets of GRC. This mindset is renewed each day
because each day possesses a great opportunity to showcase who and what we are.
In closing, I want to say how grateful I am
to work for our company, a company that is focused on our clients and our
employees. Additionally, our internal corporate culture has a heartbeat, and
Mimi has a everything to do with this. She
has a continuous focus on both GRC and its employees’ success and well-being,
and I am just as grateful to work with such a gifted and “Wise” professional.