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Leadership Insights: A Conversation with John Yung, President, International and Cabot Credit Management
We recently sat down with John Yung, who began serving as President, International and Cabot Credit Management in May 2023, to discuss his leadership philosophy and the ways Cabot serves our consumers in Europe and the U.K. John most recently served as Encore Capital Group’s Senior Vice President, Chief Global Strategist and Growth Officer, and he continues to oversee Encore’s Latin America and Asia Pacific regions, including the Encore Asset Reconstruction Company (EARC) in India, in his new role.
You’ve been a part of Encore since 2015. How has the work you’ve done for the past eight years prepared you for this new role?
I would say it nicely combines different parts of my previous work. Initially developing the strategy for Encore in 2015 gave me a broad view of the company and an understanding of how we were diversifying to deliver consistent business performance across all our operations. The opportunity to manage Baycorp, Encore’s former subsidiary in Australia/New Zealand, was a great learning experience. I had to quickly grasp the business pressures and leverage the many tools and expertise at Encore to reposition Baycorp for profitable growth. Cabot is a much different business opportunity, but the learnings from my strategy work as well as the experience repositioning Baycorp in a very competitive market will help me as I work with the Cabot Executive team to deliver strong predictable results in the competitive UK/EU markets.
How would you describe your personal leadership philosophy? What has informed it?
I am heavily influenced by my start in consulting, which gave me the tools to analyze businesses and develop an approach to tackle different situations and challenges. I am also influenced by mentors I’ve worked with such as Ashish Masih (Encore’s current President and CEO), and Ken Vecchione, our prior CEO. Both are key mentors and role models for me.
Generally, I try to be very transparent and collaborative as a leader. My communication style is to deliver simple, clear and consistent messages. My preference is also to address issues quickly and directly, so they don’t grow to become big problems. And I believe that one of my most important roles is to make sure that the Exec team operates as one, making clear unified decisions so that the organization has a clear direction.
In your most recent role as Encore’s Chief Global Strategist, you were part of setting Cabot’s current strategy. How would you describe the strategic direction and focus you see for Cabot? What are the near-term and long-term priorities? What role does Cabot play in Encore’s strategy?
I’m very much aligned with the strategy Cabot has defined. We may fine-tune tactics as needed, but the strategy remains the same. At a high level, Cabot is operating in the markets we believe provide the best opportunities to profitably grow. In addition to being a capital investing company, we are an operating company, and we need to continue to build scaled operations in all of our key markets. And we need to focus on being the strongest net collector in all our markets, to position us to deploy at good returns. Overall, Encore’s ability to focus on the geographies where we have the opportunity for the highest returns is a key part of our global strategy. In that sense, Cabot is a great counterbalance to Encore’s MCM business in the U.S. We’re very happy with returns in the U.S. right now, and that’s where Encore is focused on purchasing portfolios. When consumer behaviors begin to normalize in Europe and the U.K., we will be more aggressive in purchasing portfolios in this market as well. I plan to continue delivering on Cabot’s strategy with a simplified, focused approach based on transparency and collaboration.
It’s a challenging time economically for consumers in Europe and the U.K. with inflation stubbornly persisting. In Encore’s most recent Economic Freedom Study, more than 90% of U.K. respondents said inflation is impacting their spending. How do you think about Cabot’s role in an environment like the one consumers are currently facing?
We are a critical partner to our consumers. Whether in good economic times or bad, the consumers we work with are under financial stress, and the value we provide is always the same. We listen to what they’re going through with empathy, and we find a better way to help them stay financially upright through tough times, using a plan that works for them. Our colleagues are professionals, and they have the attitude and ethical guideposts to do the right thing for our consumers on the path to helping them restore their financial health.
As a leader at Encore, you’ve had a chance to work with colleagues in every country where we operate over the years. What are some of the common characteristics you see that make our culture and people unique?
There may be some cultural differences between colleagues at Cabot and MCM, and even within Cabot — British, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish colleagues all have their own unique differences — but the traits that matter are the same across all of Encore’s operations. Because our Values guide us, you generally find a group of people who enjoy working together and want to go the extra mile to do the right thing for consumers. They are analytical, innovative, data-driven and motivated to take care of our consumers.
You moved to London for this new role. What have you enjoyed most about the city so far?
What I love about London is that it’s a culturally rich, diverse and vibrant city. There’s a lot of energy and activity here, and it’s truly a gateway to the rest of Europe. You can see that in terms of the diversity of people who come in and visit here, and the ease with which you can go from London to visit other European countries.