GM Financial’s Chief Experience Officer Mike Urrutia is bringing lessons to the masses that he has learned during his 30-year tenure at the captive.
Urrutia was named CXO in January, succeeding Bob Beatty, and has been charged with advancing the $101.3 billion captive’s customer-centric culture. Over the past three decades, Urrutia has touched nearly every aspect of the business — from sales and credit operations to funding. He most recently served as executive vice president for U.S. dealer services operations.
Urrutia is an active member of GM Financial’s Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council and its Global Mentoring Program. He has also served on the board of National Automotive Finance Association and remains a Planning Committee member for American Financial Services Association.
Auto Finance News spoke with Urrutia about his career, his approach to leadership and his thoughts on trends in the auto finance industry. What follows is an edited version of the conversation.
Auto Finance News: What are your company goals in about 10 words or less?
Mike Urrutia: Creating remarkable experiences for all GM Financial customers.
AFN: What is your favorite piece of leadership advice you ever received?
MU: There are two pieces of advice that have stuck with me: Seek to understand, then be understood. As leaders, we need to listen and appreciate the diverse and varied thoughts, philosophies and passions of the very successful and talented people around us. Only then can we communicate and leverage those talents and perspectives most effectively.
Don’t overreact to someone else’s overreaction. Emotional responses can take us down the wrong path. Take 24 hours, reassess, then react.
AFN: Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
MU: I’ve been incredibly lucky to have been influenced by amazing leaders along the way.
Kyle Birch [president of North American operations] has had a huge influence on my career through the culture he has created within his team. He’s taught me how to bring out the best in people, allowing room for authenticity as we achieve our business objectives.
Jonas Hollandsworth [chief operating officer for North America] is a master at diffusing volatile situations. I’ve learned a lot by watching how he reacts in frustrating moments, and I appreciate his calm, steadfast nature.
AFN: What do you think is the most underrated lending trend?
MU: It comes down to meeting customers where they want to be met and balancing personalization with technology. As an industry, we have moved at light speed toward technological self-help solutions, leveraging alternative data and pushing to go as fast as possible. That’s the price of admission in today’s marketplace.
However, we can’t forget that people still want a personal connection. For some customers, there’s a preference for text and web-based solutions. They don’t want to speak to an agent on the phone. Others want the reassurance a real person is going to answer the phone and help solve problems. The companies that can strike the right balance will ultimately prevail.
AFN: What is something your employees would be surprised to learn about you?
MU: They’d probably be a bit surprised that I can hold my own as a musician. I am a fan of virtually all music, but I can personally play all the brass instruments. There was a point many years ago when I played with a jazz band.
Auto Finance Summit, the premier industry event for auto lending and leasing, returns Oct. 29-31 at the Bellagio Las Vegas and features a fireside chat with Ford Credit. To learn more about the 2023 event and register, visit autofinance.live/afs/.