Caroline Rivera and BrandSource director Chad Lang of Lang’s TV & Appliance
Wells Fargo VP Caroline Rivera sounds off on life, leashes and Women in Business
By Andy Kriege, YSN
Caroline Rivera is a New York born, South Florida-raised, first-generation Gen X Latina working in the predominantly male-dominated world of finance.
She is proud of where she came from and where she is now, which is vice president of vendor development at Wells Fargo Capital Finance. Rivera has a passion for her work, and cares deeply about her family and four-legged strays (more on that later).
Rivera started with Wells Fargo as a field auditor four days after graduating college, never expecting she would make a career out of it. After working her way up the corporate ladder, she now manages Wells Fargo’s inventory financing program with AVB BrandSource, along with several key vendor financing relationships. In that role, she helps independent retailers grow by providing the floor planning they need to secure product inventory, which is the lifeblood of their businesses.
Her duties range from helping manufacturers and distributors offer inventory financing to helping dealers recognize the value and importance of these programs.
“Every day brings something new,” she said. “I love having the opportunity to work with small businesses and see the positive impact our product has on our customers. When I first started in this industry, I was fresh out of college and honestly, just happy to have a job. However, throughout my 22 years in this business, I have seen firsthand how impactful and essential this work truly is.”
Rivera resides in Cumming, Ga., with her husband Milton, their 7-year-old son Mateo and their Rottweiler, Rogue. To say that Rivera is crazy about dogs is an understatement. “I used to carry extra leashes in my car so that if I saw a stray that looked approachable, I would try to catch it and help it out,” she said.
Rivera recalled once driving by a small, exotic-looking dog near the roadway that seemed out of sorts. “He looked lost, so I got the leash and began approaching him. I tried calling to him so I could get him in the car. That’s when Milton, who had been asleep, jumped out and yelled, ‘What are you doing?!’ I told him the dog needs help, to which my husband shouted, ‘That’s no dog, that’s a coyote!’”
It was at that time that Rivera began to curtail her habit of taking in strays, especially if they happened to be wild animals. But her heart was and still is in the right place. “When I win the lottery, I’m going to buy a big chunk of land and open a dog sanctuary,” she said. “I envision a place where dogs can come to live in a wide open and safe and peaceful environment. At least that is my dream.”
Rivera attended her first Women in Business (WiB) event at the 2017 BrandSource Convention, and Wells Fargo began co-sponsoring the networking and empowerment group two years later. Her company, she said, “is committed to building a diverse culture, so it was a natural fit to support BrandSource’s WiB group.”
Her favorite among the many WiB sessions has been the Book Club events. “I really enjoy reading, and when a Book Club event is coming up, I make sure to take the time to read something interesting,” she said. Rivera is also impressed by the candidness of the WiB members. “Everyone really opens up and allows themselves to be vulnerable among a group of people that you don’t really know all that well,” she said. “It’s fascinating when you realize how much you can relate to other people with the same challenges and feel a real connection with a complete stranger.”
Women in Business has also given Rivera the opportunity to expand her network, not just within AVB BrandSource, but also throughout the greater industry. “The WiB team does an outstanding job with the speaker events, Book Club events and monthly newsletters,” she said, and she encourages others to check it out. “It’s a great organization that does a fantastic job hosting networking events. You’ll meet inspiring women, enjoy tasty refreshments and walk away feeling ready to take on the world!”
“There’s usually laughter, sometimes a tear,” she added. But ultimately “You leave the session feeling like you’ve made special connections and I always learn something new.”
YSN publisher AVB BrandSource is the nation’s largest merchandising and marketing co-op for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.