Chairman's Message

Brett Hanft, CBA
CFDD National Chairman (2019-2020)

I’m incredibly honored to assume the role of your newly installed CFDD National Chairman. At the CFDD Awards luncheon, it was a thrill for me to look out into the audience at the peers, colleagues and friends I admire as respected credit professionals and leaders in our NACM and CFDD family. Their guidance, wisdom and encouragement is a gift I value tremendously and appreciate every day.

I suspect my initiation into the world of credit is similar to yours. I interviewed for a position in the accounting department, expecting to handle the accounts receivable, still unaware that a significant part of my responsibilities would involve credit investigation, setting credit limits and collecting past due balances. NACM quickly became an instant resource for me to obtain the credit education I desperately needed. Several months later, I received an informational flier in the mail detailing the benefits of membership in CFDD, a division of NACM, focusing on education, networking, mentoring and leadership development. Becoming a member of CFDD was an absolute “no brainer.”

I am proud of being a dedicated, active and participative member of the CFDD Portland Chapter for 30 years. I consciously made the decision to invest in myself. The credit education I found early in my career proved to be a catalyst to my progression, advancement and success as a credit manager. I can think of no better way to “pay it forward” than to serve our CFDD organization as your National Chairman. Thank you all for the trust and confidence you’ve bestowed upon me to lead our organization this year.

As I accept this leadership role in CFDD, I am incredibly fortunate to have a strong, dedicated support system of family, friends, mentors and colleagues providing constant, unwavering support. Since the list of names is exhaustive, I can’t possibly take the time now to mention everyone who has influenced and impacted my journey through the past three decades.

Please indulge me as I recognize a few special people who have paved the way, held my hand and encouraged my personal and professional growth:my wife, Zendra and our second “Mom,” Pauline. I extend my thanks to both of them for understanding the importance this organization plays in my professional life. It’s their encouragement, strength, guidance, patience, friendship and love that are such treasured and meaningful gifts in my life. I love you both.

I am so very fortunate to have financial support from my employer and corporate management team to serve the CFDD membership through service on the CFDD National Board. Louie Jauregui and Sue Fallin were able to attend the luncheon, representing our corporate credit team.

Very few people have witnessed my evolution and career development in credit from the beginning. One person, however, has been a steadfast mentor, leader, confidant and friend—Millie DeMariano. I am standing here today because of Millie. I strive every day to reach the level of professionalism, commitment, dedication and passion Millie enthusiastically and so generously instilled in me, beginning from the first day we ever met, and that was a long time ago. Millie, thank you for providing inspiration to help me develop into the credit professional I am today. I’m forever grateful for the enormous influence you’ve had in my life.

Our CFDD family has been blessed with many incredible leaders who are now our Past National Chairs. They have collectively contributed to the continued success of our organization and I’m honored to follow in their footsteps. They’ve inspired and encouraged me, and greatly assisted in helping me build the confidence I’ve needed to advance on the CFDD National Board and, ultimately, lead our organization.

There’s one person who deserves an honorable mention. I was privileged to know Jeffrey O’Banion, CCE. So much of who I am today as a credit professional is a direct result of his contagious and infectious way of always presenting me with another “opportunity,” typically after my name had already been added to a committee list where he felt my participation would be most beneficial. One of the greatest lines I’ve ever heard in my career relating to CFDD still holds true today just as it did 25 years ago. Jeff always touted the fact that CFDD membership provides you the biggest “bang for your buck.” It is so true!

And, let’s have a shout out for the CFDD Portland Chapter! What an amazing, dedicated and talented group of credit professionals. Thank you all for your encouragement, assistance and support. I may only be serving the local Board and membership now in an advisory role, but I’m incredibly proud of the consistency and success the Portland Chapter continues to strive for and achieve every year.

Finally, CFDD is an extension of NACM. I’m appreciative and grateful for the support I’ve received from Robin Schauseil and the NACM-National team. Additionally, the relationship between CFDD Portland and their Affiliate, NACM Commercial Services, is strong and mighty. The Affiliate team is led by Jennifer Walsh, CCE, Affiliate CEO. Jennifer’s constant and tireless support of CFDD is tremendously appreciated. My thanks, as well, to Sheryl Rasmusson, CCE, our NACM-National Chairman, for attending today’s annual meeting. I look forward to working with you this year, as we are both equally dedicated to providing the maximum benefit and opportunities for our collective membership across the country.

I’m thrilled to announce that this year’s CFDD National Conference will be held in conjunction with the NACM Western Conference in Portland, Oregon, the City of Roses. Mark your calendars and plan to join us for a fantastic fall conference event from October 23 through October 25. Many CFDD National Scholarships have just been awarded to members so that they may attend this event. Please note that registration opens on June 1.

I’m so proud to work with this amazing group of talented and dedicated credit professionals who represent your CFDD National Board. We are tasked with serving the needs of our entire membership. We strive to emulate the mission and vision of CFDD: to promote education, networking, leadership development and facilitate a forum for you, as CFDD members, to advance your personal and professional growth.

While we have a wealth of knowledge and experience serving on the Board, we need you to share thoughts and ideas about how we can continue to grow our membership, develop new and exciting programs that you can share and present at your local Chapter meetings, and encourage consistent, active participation. Please reach out to a member of the CFDD National Board. We’re here for you.

I realized very quickly how the impact of my active involvement in NACM and CFDD could play a significant role in the level of my professional growth. The benefits I’ve received over the years are numerous—and both organizations have undoubtedly facilitated my growth and advancement—initially from being inexperienced in accounts receivable to a well-respected credit manager.

This progression has taken time, effort, commitment and dedication over many years. I’ve set many small goals, being realistic while knowing some goals take time to achieve. I’ve essentially made a 30-year “investment” in myself. CFDD, we all know the letters represent the Credit and Financial Development Division of NACM. I propose that you think about those letters in a different manner.

C: Commitment.

F: Focus. Make a commitment to focus efforts on advancing your personal and professional growth in 2019. How can you make that happen? Attend conferences, network with peers and colleagues, become an active participant in your local CFDD chapter, register for classes relevant to your job responsibilities, step out of your comfort zone by presenting a monthly program to your Chapter membership or agree to serve on your local Board of Directors. The possibilities are endless.

D: Dedicate the time necessary for you to work at achieving your goals.

D: Discover. Through making a commitment to focus and dedicate time on working towards your personal and professional goals, you’ll discover your own leadership potential. Don’t keep it to yourself; share it with others.

As I accept the leadership role as your CFDD National Chairman, the most poignant and meaningful theme that struck a chord in me is this quote by Warren Buffet, “The Most Important Investment You Can Make Is in Yourself.” That’s a simple but powerful statement that applies with equal importance to your personal and professional life.

Please take the time to read our CFDD National newsletter. It’s one of the best ways for your CFDD National Board to communicate with every CFDD member. A great deal of time and effort has been spent during the past couple years to revitalize our newsletter. I’m really proud of this publication and encourage you to make sure it’s on your “must-read” list when it’s distributed every other month.

I’m incredibly impressed with the creative, dynamic, thought-provoking ways our local Chapters are developing and presenting educational programs. Please share those programs with your CFDD National Board. I’ve always said if you have members who need and desire a specific topic or program at the local level, other members can benefit from the same educational material.

Let’s get some new National educational programs submitted, approved and uploaded for the entire CFDD membership to utilize this year.

You are in control over the investment you make in yourself. I challenge you to commit, focus, dedicate and discover your potential as you reach for the stars to achieve your educational, leadership and career goals.

I am committed, as your CFDD National Chairman, to work diligently with our CFDD National Board to serve the collective needs of our membership. I want to offer you the “biggest bang for your buck” as a member of CFDD. Use your NACM and CFDD membership to the best of your ability and remember, “The Most Important Investment You Can Make Is in Yourself.” Thank you again for the trust and confidence you’ve placed in me to serve as your new CFDD National Chairman.