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Why Not Me? How I Silenced Doubt and Started Believing in Myself

"Why not me?" That question helped Kelly Feoli (Chief Customer Officer at MRS BPO, LLC) conquer self-doubt and accelerate her career. Read her full story below.


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I grew up on a dairy farm in New Jersey. My childhood was full of waking up at sunrise to feed the cows, learning the ropes of the farm from my dad throughout the day, and finally going in at sunset for dinner. 

Being a farmer is not your typical 9-5. It’s more like 6AM - 7PM. Every single day. There are no weekends off in a farmer’s world. Much like the business world, farming requires a lot of hard work, determination and a bit of competitiveness. I adopted these traits as a young girl, and they have stuck with me since. 

You may be wondering—competitiveness? On a farm? With who? The cows? Well, I had an older brother, so everything was a competition. Tractor races, cow feed races, who could do the most chores in one day—this was my mother’s idea, go figure.

The tractor races were my favorite. What little girl wouldn’t want to race a tractor? Right?  

There I was, 10 years old, going slow and steady to make sure I had the right gears on and didn't run over any cows. But of course, my brother always won. The loser would take the winner’s leftover chores from the day. To be honest, I was getting tired of hanging his boxer briefs on the clothesline every morning. So, I finally realized that I had to be a little more aggressive in these tractor races to get out of all the extra work. Why couldn’t I beat my older brother in a tractor race?


Why couldn’t I win something for once? Why not me?

When the next tractor race came, I closed my eyes, put my foot on the gas, and just hoped that the cows would clear out. Sure enough, I won my first race—and every one after that. I no longer hid behind the wheel, slowly stepping on the gas. I put my full foot on the gas and owned that race every single time. Soon enough, my brother was hanging up my laundry on the clothesline every morning. 

Like I’d imagine most of you, I was the first in my family to go to college. Which means I was also the first one to pay for college. Not entirely the easiest thing to do as a young student, working at a Burger King on the weekends and a dairy bar every night after classes. 

After graduating and finding a stable job, I got married and started a family. I was fortunate enough to stay at home for the first years of my children’s lives, and I will always be grateful for that time. Being a mom is wonderful, but I knew I needed to do something more. I wanted to help support my family and show my kids that their mom could be more than just a mom. 

My husband was in real estate during the 2008 crash, so I really didn’t have much of a choice. I had to start working again. 


I knew it would be hard to start over, but why not me? 

I re-entered the workforce by taking a substitute teacher position at our local middle school. As we all know, teachers do not make enough, so I started looking again. I found an online ad for a resolution agent position at MRS. I thought if I could teach 8th graders to come to class and not shoot their pencils in the ceiling, I could persuade customers to pay their debt.  Why not me? I could do it. 

It wasn’t that easy.

In looking around the collections floor, I sat alone and tried to rationalize how I was going to ask customers for money when their cars were repossessed. They didn’t pay for the car when they had it, so why and how could they pay now? I was surrounded by many assertive collectors that were getting their fair share of hang-ups, and I knew that there had to be a better way.  

I quickly realized that every customer would try to explain themselves, and tell us why they couldn’t pay. Everyone that has landed in the world of debt wants to be heard. So, I decided to take the opposite approach of being demanding and assertive. I befriended consumers and let them tell their story. My inner mom came out. A unique approach, but it was worth a try. I listened, spoke softly, and provided them with the best solution to resolve their debt. I continued with this strategy, and eventually became the agent of the month for 24 consecutive months.

I eventually pulled myself out of the running for agent of the month so that others could be recognized. The competitive edge came out, regardless of being recognized for it. I never looked back and really didn’t care what anyone else was doing as long as I knew I was in the lead. 

I developed a business plan to implement a new operations unit that could make the company money and keep our competitors at bay. I was promoted to a manager to oversee this new unit. 


An agent, with no experience, becoming a manager was quite rare. But, why not me?

The unit was extremely profitable and I was able to continue to climb the industry ladder.  I continued to take on additional responsibilities and immediately implemented change. My industry climb was steep. I may be making this sound quite easy, but if you were an agent at one time, you are probably aware that it is not. 

As I continued to take on new teams, new clients, and new departments, I became a decision maker and paved the way for the next generation of leaders at MRS. 

Once I got to a top manager position, I became interested in the idea of becoming a part of the executive team. I wanted my voice to be heard and wanted to see change within the organization. Why was it so important to be heard? Why did I need to do more? When you have a voice that has the drive to make change, you will not stop until you get the chance to do so. I wanted to make this company better now and in the future. I knew how to do it, and I needed that Executive title in order to do it. Why not me?

I knew this company like the back of my hand. I thought it was unusual that they were not seeking me out. I assumed that hard work, dedication, competitiveness, and grit would earn me the right to sit at the shiny table. But I was wrong. I had to do more. I finally nudged my way into getting insight as to why I wasn’t promoted to the executive level yet.


I checked off all the boxes, or at least I thought I did. Why not me?

Well, sometimes we can be blinded by our past success. In order to get something you’ve never had, you have to do things you’ve never done. For me, that was more education. It was recommended that I take some IT courses to heighten my understanding of our company’s technical framework. The ideas I had for the company didn’t fit the path they wanted to go down, so I had to adjust my thinking and approach.

I had to take a step back from being the leader, and become a student. I knew I could get to the executive level, but it required some learning. Why not me? Why couldn’t I do it? 

And, I did it. 

I’m not sure how many agents turned executives that there are in this industry, but it can be done. And you are the ones that can do it. I hope you remember how you got to where you are. Own your story. Change the ending if you need to.

Why not you?