Leadership Spotlight: Betty Jotanovic

In March 2023, Betty Jotanovic officially became President of Chrysler Capital and Auto Relationships, succeeding Bruce Jackson who assumed a new role as Head of US Auto and Santander Consumer USA CEO. Since joining Santander Consumer USA in 2018 as Head of Originations, Jotanovic’s leadership over Credit, Funding and Dealer Management has been pivotal in refining the organization’s controls and helped drive industry-leading dealer and customer satisfaction score improvements.

With more than 25 years of experience in the automotive and financial services industries, Jotanovic has specialized in senior level leadership in treasury, tax, business strategy, sales and credit, funding, collections and customer service.

We caught up with Jotanovic at this year’s Santander Consumer USA/Chrysler Capital National Sales Meeting (NSM) in Plano, Texas, to get her thoughts on her new role and message to the audience.

SANTANDER CONSUMER USA: You attended and spoke at the recent annual Sales Meeting. What’s an event like that mean to you?
JOTANOVIC: For me, an event like NSM energizes and mobilizes the team. I think it’s great for networking. Coming from my previous role, it was important because it gave myself and my team the opportunity to network with the entire Sales team. We participated in panels in the past and gave updates to the group on Credit and Funding and really just the partnership, both ways — what can we do to make things better? And shared some of the feedback in terms of what Sales can do to help us.

This year, I see it having the same goals, but obviously my role will be a little bit different as I’ll be focusing on the broader organization, not just the Operations side – Credit, Funding and Dealer Management – but the Sales side and really focusing more on the overall vision for the organization, which is going to be a continued focus on our goals, persisting through challenges and remaining tenacious, and to continue focusing on teamwork.

When I say teamwork, I don’t mean within Sales. I mean across Sales, but also across Originations and Servicing. We’ve done a really good job over the last few years building that teamwork and that camaraderie. I think that’s how we get ahead – we continue to focus on working together, especially when we go to market.

And similarly on the Operations side, making sure the service is being delivered to support Sales and their message to the dealers. We want to also make sure the dealers are aware of our value proposition. Our specialized underwriters that we have for the various channels or our knowledge across the products. Being a full-spectrum lender, we do all of it. I think that’s where we need to continue to sell dealers our value proposition of ‘we do it all.’

SANTANDER CONSUMER USA: What’s your vision for the business? I’ve heard you mention digital products.
JOTANOVIC: On the digital side we have Chat, which I think has been a great addition. A lot of lenders don’t have that. We have full eContracting on Dealertrack and RouteOne. And we have our Dealer Portal. That, with the continued evolution, I think will be a competitive advantage. With our new portal and as we continue to improve that and evolve, the goal is to be best in class and have that as another differentiator.

But for me the vision isn’t so much around digital. I think we have that, I think that’s already there. I think for us, the vision is really to focus on becoming that full-spectrum lender. Getting that message out to dealers. We’re going to continue to build that and then the other piece is to look at opportunities to be more efficient.

SANTANDER CONSUMER USA: During your career, you’ve done everything from working the midnight shift on the assembly line at a Chrysler plant in Detroit, to getting a law degree, to overseeing accounts receivable operations in 19 countries. How has your background prepared you for this new leadership role as President of Chrysler Capital and Auto Relationships?
JOTANOVIC: I think the people part is really important, especially in this job. Learning over time what motivates people. Sometimes you learn just as much from a bad experience, or more, as opposed to a good experience. I would say just the different perspectives of people along the way. And then just understanding the different business units and how they interact.

It’s been relatively seamless being that I didn’t come in and have to learn the entire organization overnight. I previously oversaw Credit, Funding and Dealer Management, and now the good news is I can focus on Sales and Commercial and not have to spend my time learning the other side of the shop. That’s been really helpful.

SANTANDER CONSUMER USA: You mentioned people along the way. Who has inspired you in your career journey?
JOTANOVIC: I would say everybody and anybody I have met. I think everyone has their own unique talents. But also unique challenges. Whether it’s balancing a family and work. Taking care of aging parents. Balancing a health condition. What inspires me is seeing people that just don’t give up, they overcome their challenges. If you didn’t sit down and have a cup of coffee with this person, you would have never known … the way they carry themselves. Then once you get to know them, you’re like wow! They make it look easy, but it’s really not. And I love those kind of success stories of people that have overcome challenges. That’s really motivating.

SANTANDER CONSUMER USA: Now that you’ve been with the organization five years, what do you like best about Santander as a company?
JOTANOVIC: The people. The people are awesome and it feels like family. I felt that way with my prior leadership team. I felt like they had my back, I had their back. And now with my new leadership team they’ve been extremely welcoming and supportive. I just know I’ve got the best team behind me.

Q: First car.
A: A 1988 Dodge Daytona.

Q: Favorite food.
A: I love spicy food. Thai, Tex-Mex, anything spicy.

Q: Favorite vacation destination.
A: Beaches. Anywhere with water, and anything with a beach.

Q: Favorite type of music.
A: I have very eclectic taste and love all music. I love ’70s and ’80s music. Everything from classic rock to pop to even a little bit of disco. I like the ’90s and ’00s – grunge, dance music, hip-hop. I like it all. If I’m working out, I usually like classic rock, metal or something to pump me up. But if I’m doing cardio, I like dance music. But the ’70s and ’80s, that’s probably my favorite genre.

Q: First concert.
A: Whitesnake and Great White. The most recent concert I went to was Elton John in September 2022.

Q: Favorite movie.
A: The Goonies is one of my favorites. I like silly movies and horror and comedies.

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