“I was just a baby when I started at VFS in 1998,” laughs Lisa Alameda. “But it immediately felt like home and the company has become like family ever since.”
It may not appear often on people’s resumes, but two of Lisa’s key skills are good humour and empathy. She laughs throughout our conversation and her passion for people is clear. Compassion for her employees – she heads a team of 17 that is one of the largest in VFS – compassion for the leaders she reports to and compassion for the dealers and customers she supports. This good nature is clearly her toolkit in what can be a demanding role, and also what motivates her team to do their best.
“Dealers have high expectations and are under their own pressures to get a deal done,” says Lisa. “As we race to get the documentation in place I strive to be a positive bridge between my team and the dealers. I always treat people as I want to be treated, whoever they are. I am also on my team’s side, ensuring they have the tools needed to help them work smarter, whether it’s system or process improvements.”
Second time lucky
The first time Lisa applied to join VFS she didn’t get the job. Luckily three months later the company called and said they had an open position – and Lisa jumped at it. It was a smart decision on both sides, because within six months of becoming a customer account specialist Lisa was awarded a Volvo Employee Appreciation award of a Caribbean cruise, setting sail from Puerto Rico.
“I knew VFS was where I was supposed to be,” she says. “From an early stage I felt trusted and empowered to make decisions that were for the good of the company and our customers. The career progression within VFS has been great. I’ve had more roles than I can remember, but it was amazing to start with and it’s still amazing 21 years later.”
After five years working in various departments Lisa became the first African American woman to be appointed to a management position. “VFS continues to create an inclusive environment,” she says. “They respect my opinions and know the value of putting the right people in the right positions – regardless of backgrounds. That mentality comes from the top. It’s not perfect, but I’ve always felt we are on the right road.”
Lisa also credits her success to her family. While she’s best friends with her mother and sister, it is her 94 year old grandmother who we have to thank for Lisa’s positive outlook. “My parents were in the Marines, and I moved from California to North Carolina to be with my grandmother when I was only one. She took me to church, taught me how to treat people and to be thankful for what I have.”
Supported by her loving husband Eddie, a Puerto Rican (she didn’t meet him on the cruise!) Lisa’s passions are watching action movies, cooking and playing with her grandchildren. “When I come home from work Eddie knows he has to give me 30 minutes to unwind – then we can start our evening together,” she says, still laughing.
‘I love what I do!’
“Doc & Funding can be challenging – at quarter-ends we have to work long hours and some late nights – once we didn’t finish until 6am the next morning,” Lisa says. “But it can be a lot of fun and laughs. I’m right there alongside my team – and I feed them! Puerto Rican food, mac-and-cheese or – my speciality – empanadas. Not all days are great,” Lisa concludes, “but I love what I do and the people I do it for. I’m still learning and feel that there is so much more I can do for this company.
“I’m proud to be a woman of VFS.”