Getting to Know You is a blog series meant to surface insights into the amazing individuals of Wilco Source. Every month, we’ll get to the heart of our team so you can get to know us a little better and find out what makes us tick.
This month, meet Chris Lekander, our Vice President of Delivery. Chris has quickly become a vital part of our team. She is an amazing connector and knows how to align teams to get things done. She also continuously goes above and beyond to help clients –– always putting people first.
So, let’s learn a little bit more about who Chris is and what drives and inspires her.
- Where were you born and/or where have you lived the majority of your life?
- I’ve been across the map a bit, but I was born in Fayetteville, NC at Fort Bragg. I eventually ended up in Wisconsin, growing up both in Milwaukee and also a suburb of Milwaukee. Then, I went to school in Minnesota and ended up staying there for 14 years, before moving to Arizona.
- When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A ballerina. Growing up, I had a ballet teacher who lived in the neighborhood and I absolutely adored it. I loved dancing.
- What’s the strangest job you ever had or what was your first job?
Well, I’ll tell you both, because they’re both indicative of my personality. My first job was as a bagger at a grocery store. I left that job fairly quickly because I had an opportunity to go on vacation to Florida with a neighbor. I asked to take two unpaid days off and they refused to let me go. So, I said, “See ya”. That was the only job I ever quit for any reason remotely like that.Which brings me to the strangest job I’ve ever had: delivering newspapers…while pregnant with my first child. It wasn’t the job that was strange but my circumstance. I was a pregnant woman delivering papers by myself in the pitch dark of Minneapolis, when one morning, during a bad thunderstorm, I was almost struck by lightning. I was just about to my car when lightning struck so close it almost hit me and the car. Needless to say, that was the last day of my newspaper delivery career.
- What then led you to get into your current field, or specifically your current role?
This relates to my first “real” job and starts to tie in the technology aspect. While I was in college I got a job with a real estate appraiser. They had a home-grown appraisal software but didn’t have anyone in-house to support that software. I became the in-house support and learned how to program business applications at that point. That’s when I decided I wanted to go into technology. After that I actually worked for the guy who wrote that appraisal application before moving on to a consulting firm.
- What led you to your role at Wilco Source?
When I was working at McKesson, I managed a large team with a ton of consultants within our IT realm. Wilco Source was one of six vendors I worked closely with, and I realized that our values were closely aligned. So, when I decided that I wanted to expand my career beyond just a corporate ladder, Wilco Source was a natural and obvious choice.
- What drew you to Wilco Source?
Wilco Source’s values are extraordinarily amazing and that’s why I’m here. Both Wilco and my values are focused on people and creating greater opportunities for those people. People are the most important thing, and in the end, you have to deliver quality and value because that helps people. Wilco Source has blown me away in their efforts to create value and put people first.
- What’s one thing you’re most proud of since joining Wilco Source?
Quite a lot actually. There are a number of personal, professional and company-wide accomplishments we’ve achieved in just the last year alone that I’m really proud of. One of my favorite things I’ve been involved with directly is the work we’ve done with one of our clients, Cepheid, and seeing how we’ve directly impacted the success of their team. We put together disparate people who didn’t have a lot of experience working together and built a team comprising Wilco staff and the client’s internal staff, and it was pretty seamless from the start. It was a perfect example of our people-first approach in action. I was also able to share my knowledge and experience in project management and enterprise transformation, which I love. The Cepheid team was one of the most amazing teams to work with.
- What’s a project you’re working on that’s particularly close to your heart or that inspires you?
Again, there are so many and they all have their own stories. But for me, one thing that continues to stand out, particularly on projects like Cepheid, is people rise to the occasion. That’s the theme at Wilco Source. People come together and they’re open to doing things different than they’ve done before and leverage the talents of more people. As a leadership team, what we most care about is growing a company that champions smart, caring, forward-thinking people.
- Whether it’s professionally or personally, who inspires you most?
The one answer that always comes to mind is Oprah. I’m a big fan of Oprah. She’s a self-made billionaire from humble origins, and she continues to awaken the consciousness of others. She’s an inspiration because it seems she’s done that without losing hold of what’s truly important. I’m also inspired by everyone who’s aspiring to do that same thing, whether they’ve achieved it or not. I see that in the Wilco founders –– Kedar and Sundar. They are both aligned to that belief of helping others while not losing sight of what’s important.
- What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I’ve received so many great pieces of advice, it’s hard to pinpoint just one. I think I’d have to defer to my “stock” answer of “Be the change.” It’s my favorite quote.
- What’s one of your big, audacious goals?
To change the face of capitalism so that it’s socially responsible. I believe people should have the ability to simultaneously make a good living, learn countless things inside and outside of their profession, and fully engage in their family life and communities. And I believe people should be fully allowed to be as healthy as they choose to be.
- When you’re not working, where can you most likely be found?
Growing garlic. It’s quite a commitment but it’s so much fun.
- What are people most surprised to learn about you?
When people really get to know me, they’re most surprised to know how incredibly insane (in a good way) my background is, when it comes to diversity. Specifically, what my family’s hereditary history is and who I’m connected to. For example, my mother is first-generation, part Italian and Eritrean (which was formerly part of Ethiopia). That’s just on one side of the family. The other side also brings in an entire web of diversity. It’s pretty fascinating. I’m very lucky to know about all of that history.