Over 25 years ago, I was in Cleveland attending a credit related seminar in which Robert M. Healey was the speaker. I don’t recall the topic of the class that day but I do remember that Robert was very passionate and proud when, during the latter part of the afternoon, he spoke of earning his CCE designation. The more he spoke of it, the more intrigued I became. I decided this was something I would like to pursue “someday”. So a seed was planted that afternoon, one that would not be cultivated for more than two decades.
Fast forward to the year 2008……CAP classes were being offered by NACM Cleveland. Now I’d made inquiries into these classes throughout the years but the timing was never quite right. However, in the Fall of 2008, I was able to begin these classes with the Business Credit Principals Class. My class was relatively small, about six students. My instructor throughout the six classes I eventually attended was Sean Pleva of the Sherwin Williams Company. Sean gave of his time to us each week, first on Tuesdays and later on Thursday evenings after having already put in a long day at the office. I know this was a sacrifice for him as he also was helping to raise his young son, Vinny.
Our group shared a lot of laughs and we learned together. By this time, I had quite a few years of experience under my belt as did my fellow classmates and we all brought something a little bit different to the table. The class was, in some areas, a good review and in other areas, a great learning experience. One of my takeaways has always been The Five C’s of Credit (Character, Capacity, Capital, Collateral and Conditions). To me, the most important one of these is obviously Character. Even if your customer has the other four, if they are not a person of integrity, you still may not be paid. The flip side of that is we all have a few customers with such integrity that they will always find a way to pay us, even if the capacity is a challenge.
I remember shedding a few tears when my CCE plaque arrived in the mail. I continue to be proud of it.
I completed the first class and moved on to the Accounting class. I remember most that the book for this class as very thick and the homework LONG! The next class was the Financial Statement Analysis Class. The book for this class was small but contained some very good “nuggets” that helped me greatly in the final exam. (I still refer to this book today when needed.) At this point, I qualified to sit for the CBA (Credit Business Associate) exam. I passed this exam in Nov. of 2010. Moving on from there, I completed the next three required classes and qualified to sit for the CBF (Credit Business Fellow) exam. I passed this exam in March of 2012. That left the big one…..the daunting CCE!
Now I’d heard rumors about this exam……that you are given a list of questions and instead of perhaps an answer page with multiple choices to circle, you are given several sheets of blank notebook paper. Pretty much everything I’d heard proved to be true. I prayed a lot before, during and after this exam for sure and I’m very thankful to say that in November of 2012 I passed the exam and received my CCE designation. I’m sure the heavens were rejoicing with me as I remember shedding a few tears the day my plaque arrived in the mail. This was like a bucket list item for me; achieving this designation meant so much. As word circulated through the organization, I remember receiving many congratulatory phone calls and emails from my colleagues; both at Mickey Thompson Tires and our parent company, Cooper Tire and Rubber and that I was recognized at our Christmas Party/Awards banquet that year.
Fast forward to 2018…..I continue to be proud of this designation. I’ve renewed my certification once in 2015 and am due to renew again this year by the end of December. I find that by staying active in NACM Connect (I currently serve on both the Education Committee and the Advisory Board) staying active in my company and my local church, it’s not difficult to achieve the required continuing education points needed to keep my certification current.
In 2016 I was attending the Central Region Credit Conference “Credit Roundup” in Chicago. Robert M. Healey was in attendance at one of the classes in which I was participating. I approached Robert, told him my story of how he had inspired me so many years ago, that I had achieved my CCE designation and was now giving back to the organization that had helped me so much in my career. To his credit, Robert was kind and gracious and he thanked me for letting him know. We don’t always we get the chance to thank those who have inspired or encouraged us along the way and I’m grateful to have had this opportunity.
To those of you who may be contemplating obtaining your certification, I highly recommend it. It continues to be one of the great highlights of my career. And to Robert M. Healey and Sean Pleva, thank you for giving back and for being an integral part of my story.
By: Caroline S. Perkins, CCE
Credit Manager, Mickey Thompson Tires