STRIPES Inspires Change & Transformation Through Leadership Development

by Rita E. Garwood Vol. 48 No. 7 2021

STRIPES Leadership Program, designed specifically for the equipment finance industry, kicked off its inaugural program in September. Monitor checks in with STRIPES participants — and the managers who enrolled them in the program — to learn more about how it is developing tomorrow’s leaders, impacting the success of their organizations and forwarding the future of the industry.

During her keynote address at the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s 60th Annual Convention, leadership expert DeDe Halfhill noted that more than 60,000 books on leadership are available on Amazon. Clearly, leadership is an important topic many people are trying to learn about on their own.

While the equipment finance industry has achieved significant growth over the years in terms of assets under management, its growth may be precluding companies from focusing on developing talent. The 2020 Monitor 100 companies employed 26,813 people; the leaders of tomorrow’s equipment finance industry are likely in that group. They have the experience, the industry knowledge and the desire to lead, but have they been developed in the “human” side of leadership?

Last year, in partnership with Monitor, STRIPES Leadership Program conducted several focus groups with various equipment finance professionals, ranging from next generation leaders younger than 40 years old to current CEOs with decades of industry experience. The focus group participants were asked questions about the current state of leadership development in the industry and whether its future leaders are prepared to steer the equipment finance industry of tomorrow. The responses were unanimous: All participants shared the view that the equipment finance industry has not adequately addressed leadership development in its organizations and thus, its leaders are not adequately prepared for the future.

It’s Time to Develop Our Leaders

Recognizing the need for equipment finance leadership development, Monitor publisher Lisa Rafter founded STRIPES Leadership Program. Equipment finance is at a critical crossroads, as dozens of current leaders will be retiring in the next five to 10 years while a new generation of leaders is emerging. Rafter saw this as the perfect time to launch STRIPES and develop tomorrow’s leaders. STRIPES includes not only transformational learning with a three-day breakthrough leadership intensive program, but also Master Talks and Master Workshops led by some of the most notable current leaders in the industry. Thus, today’s leaders will impart their experience, their most important learnings and their wisdom to our industry’s future leaders.

“It’s an exciting time for our industry as companies navigate a changing environment, strategies for innovation and plans for the leaders of tomorrow,” Rafter says. “We created STRIPES in response to each of these initiatives. STRIPES’ 10-month program gets to the heart of participants’ future leadership goals and bridges the gap with a powerful curriculum delivered by well-known industry leaders and best-in-class leadership experts.”

“STRIPES Leadership Program is a robust, transformational experience that challenges participants to examine their current behavior and assumptions and gives them tools to innovate, create change and lead others,” Laura Backe, executive director of STRIPES Leadership Program, says. “The program creates a heightened sense of awareness of performance patterns that limit personal and professional growth. Participants gain a new perspective on their role within the company, their ability to affect change and their responsibility to the organization. As they progress, our leaders create a community of support and creativity that will ultimately make the equipment finance industry more agile and successful.”

“STRIPES sets the gold standard for industry-based leadership development programs. Nothing like it exists,” Susan Campbell, program ambassador for STRIPES Leadership Program, says. “Developed by the industry, for the industry, STRIPES builds the best and brightest leaders for the future of equipment finance. Unique and comprehensive, STRIPES offers 12 interrelated components, rich in content and experiential learning, delivered over a 10-month period. STRIPES is organized around five key outcomes and is all about discovery, self-awareness, breakthroughs, breakdowns and the very real journey of the lifelong learner. As a STRIPES leader, you are transformed both personally and professionally — experiencing untapped potential and thinking, relating, contributing and leading in new, powerful and unlimited ways for the benefit of the individual, organization and industry.”

“Our first cohort launched Sept. 28, 2021, and the participants hit the ground running,” Rafter says. “Now, two months later, they are fully engaged and embracing every aspect of the program. It is so fun and fulfilling to watch them grow and develop!”

Why STRIPES?

“No resource is more important to a business than its people, and nothing’s more central to a company’s continuing success than investing in staff development by taking advantage of programs like STRIPES,” Miles Herman, president and COO of LEAF Commercial Capital, says. “With STRIPES, up-and-coming leaders can sit down with subject matter experts in a setting that’s less like a lecture and more like a laboratory for leadership growth. Equipped with the ideas, insights and tools gained from STRIPES, we’re even better positioned to meet the needs of an evolving marketplace and drive progress in an industry that’s so essential to powering business success and economic growth. Whether you are a big company with resources like LEAF or a smaller company with fewer resources to support employee development, this program is highly beneficial.”

“Wintrust Commercial Finance is truly excited to have two participants in the STRIPES Leadership Program because of [the] robust and diverse content that it offers,” Thomas G. Forbes, executive vice president and chief sales officer at Wintrust Commercial Finance, says. “WCF is dedicated to the professional development of its team members, and STRIPES, with its leadership-focused content such as the Master Talks and Master Workshops, offers an equipment finance-centric platform geared towards increasing the knowledge base and capabilities of nominated participants. Providing the tools that the STRIPES program offers not only allows WCF and the industry to retain high-performing individuals, but to attract new, high-potential talent.”

“One of Auxilior’s foundational elements to becoming the North American leader in supply chain financial logistics is people,” Jeremy Borkowski, chief commercial officer at Auxilior Capital Partners, says. “We believe in continuous learning so that we can challenge, inspire and grow new leaders from within the organization. The STRIPES Leadership Program seamlessly aligns with this goal, and we’re fortunate to have the opportunity to invest in our leadership team through STRIPES.”

“Earlier this year, our organization decided to commit two of our mid-level and junior professionals to a leadership preparedness program. I put considerable effort into researching various platforms, including well organized internal training programs,” Vince Belcastro, group head of syndications at Element Fleet Management, says. “After considerable research, I found STRIPES to be an excellent industry source that is filling the requirement for much needed key employee development. Not only is STRIPES a well thought through program, it is industry specific. By engaging some of the most notable leaders in our space to host Master Talks and workshops, the program provides resources and continued touchpoints for the attendees. It is the commitment to detail that convinced me this was well worth the time, effort and expense. I could not think of a more well organized, industry specific program to meet the needs of our up-and-coming team members.”

What Participants Are Saying

“In the STRIPES leadership program, we are immediately challenged to step outside our comfort zones to confront our preconceived notions of ourselves, the idea of leadership and the way we assess the world around us,” Shai Adary, vice president of sales at Regents Capital, says. “We’re placed in the company of a diverse range of experienced professionals from all backgrounds, departments and companies. It’s impressive to be educated in a way that feels simultaneously tailor-made for the individual and also universally applicable within the world of equipment finance.”

“One of the most valuable aspects of the STRIPES program is the interactivity of the sessions, which encourage me to step outside my comfort zone, roll up my sleeves and really engage with the ideas and concepts in a welcoming environment full of discussion and enthusiasm,” Lauren Aron, director of marketing and creative services at LEAF Commercial Capital, says. “My STRIPES experience so far has given me deep insight into the kind of leader I am, a roadmap for the kind of leader I strive to be and tools I can use to get there. I have been surprised to learn that growing as a leader isn’t as much about groundbreaking ideas and sweeping changes as a commitment to challenging your everyday assumptions and seeing every situation from a more objective viewpoint. It’s a simple yet powerful change any leader can make, and it immediately begins to impact everything you do as a leader.”

“The STRIPES Leadership Program is an instrument of change and transformation,” Ronnie DeMarco, vice president of transportation at Auxilior Capital Partners, says. “STRIPES is creating a powerful movement for strong leaders in equipment finance by providing a breakthrough model of intense classes that are focused on embracing the future of equipment finance leaders. STRIPES is a focused program that has already inspired change in my company and myself as a breakthrough leader. I am excited to be part of such and exciting program!”

“I’ve been extremely pleased with what I’ve been able to learn to date in the STRIPES program, beginning with the Breakthrough Intensive Program that uncovered how our preconceived notions about our relationships with customers and peers steer so much of what we do and how we respond to situations,” Steve Mosley, an account executive at LEAF Commercial Capital, says. “That was an extremely eye-opening experience over the course of three days. I also feel that the relationships built within our cohort groups, along with interacting with peers from finance organizations across the country, is going to be very beneficial as I build on my leadership skills.”

“The STRIPES Leadership Program is the sort of program our industry has been missing,” Cristian Diaz, a Salesforce solutions architect at Amur Equipment Finance, says. “It forces leadership at all levels to ignore what we thought was impossible and make it a reality. I now realize I had biases of what is technologically feasible in this industry. STRIPES encouraged me to confront those beliefs head-on so I can build a better future for my team and our customers.”

Cohort Two Begins Soon

As Rafter mentioned, the first STRIPES cohort began on Sept. 28, 2021, with participants from various equipment finance companies representing a cross-section of industry roles, including sales, operations, IT, marketing and credit. The second cohort of STRIPES is enrolling now and will begin the 10-month program in March 2022.

The STRIPES program features 12 components: a Breakthrough Leadership Self-Assessment and a three-day Breakthrough Intensive Program in partnership with GAP International, more than six breakthrough reflection sessions, 360-degree assessments, eight Master Talks with recognized industry leaders, two Master Workshops with best-in-class leadership experts, individual program coaching, a mentor-mentee program, monthly mentor meetings, independent cohort working groups, leadership development plans and a STRIPES certification ceremony in Philadelphia.

The core outcome of the STRIPES program is the development of leaders who inspire change and transformation, foster bold thinking, embrace open heart leadership, create fellowship and make a difference. For more information, contact Susie Angelucci at susie.angelucci@stripesleadership.com.

Rita E. Garwood is editor in chief of Monitor.

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