March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate this important occasion, we asked Natalia Brown, Chief Client Operations Officer for National Debt Relief, to share her personal experience and advice. But first, here’s a bit about her background, including how she began her journey at NDR to help others live a better life.
Natalia is a native New Yorker whose two sons inspire her to do her best every day. She is a certified debt specialist and holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Lehman College. Her current goal is pursuing a master’s in operations and project management from Southern New Hampshire University.
Ms. Brown began in the negotiation department in 2010, where she helped maintain a settlement percentage of 47%. Today, she plays a vital role in NDR’s client journey by overseeing all client-facing operations of the business. She manages and supports a team of more than 400 representatives and promotes a collaborative work environment. As a thought leader, Natalia touts NDR’s human-centric brand values in news outlets, publications, and podcasts nationwide.
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What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
I would tell my 16-year-old self that life doesn’t start and end with High School drama, and it’s okay to fail miserably and see those failures as valuable lessons to be my best self. I’d also have some fashion advice but then again, I don’t think anyone had it right back then.
Did you have a mentor early on in your career who impacted you significantly? If so, how did they impact you?
My earliest mentors were my grade school teachers who believed in me. I didn’t come from the best of neighborhoods and having teachers believe in their students made an enormous difference in my future decisions and the value of education. As an adult, I learned from my mother, grandmother, and just about every leader I have ever had, even if it was to learn what not to do.
What about your job ignites your passion the most?
I have always found great joy in helping others and seeing others accomplish their goals. I enjoy being a mentor as much as I enjoy problem-solving. I try to align my passions with the work I do at NDR and with non-profits that I donate my time to.
What was your most satisfying moment/situation at NDR?
When NDR moved to performance-based fees our first negotiation goal seemed unobtainable—the goal was somewhere between 25k and 30k as an entire team in same-month fees for the month. I had doubts that the projections for our goal were even correct. It was so satisfying to not only hit our first goal but exceed it. I should mention the goal went up the following month and we didn’t believe we could make it and yet we did.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about debt since you joined NDR?
The most important thing I’ve learned is if you have a solid plan, you can manage debt. Keeping track of expenses, taking the time to budget, and having financial goals can be achieved by anyone with research and time. I’ve also learned how much debt can burden people which is another reason I do my best to help others meet their goals.
Is there anything else you’d like to include about your career progression, your personal journey to a C-level position or advice for young female professionals?
For anyone looking to advance in their career, it is important to seek feedback and find an objective mentor. I say objective because you want to avoid someone who will avoid telling you the truth about yourself. The only way to grow is to learn as much as you can about yourself as an individual and how to leverage your strengths as a leader, not a boss.
In addition to her passion for helping people manage their debt and take back their lives, Natalia’s personal mission is helping you women navigate, understand, and thrive in the financial world. Her purpose of helping young adults was inspired by her work with Fresh Air Fund, where she counseled and mentored children with and without special needs.
As a result, Natalia supports immigrant women as a volunteer at New Women New Yorkers. She is also involved in Four Steps Forward—a program founded by The American College of Financial Services that aims to financially educate one million black women.
We salute Natalia as a role model who empowers women to overcome obstacles and forge their own paths.