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Nicole Klemp

Our spotlight series rolls on, as we continue to celebrate employees who have taken on new roles and responsibilities as part of our Appirio/Wipro integration. The Appirian we’re highlighting this week has taken a leading role in ensuring the success of a brilliant team of project managers in our Salesforce practice.

Meet our Appirian:

Chris Schain was recently promoted to the role of Senior Manager, CRM Delivery. He manages the East team of Project Managers and is responsible for the successful delivery of Salesforce projects in his region. Chris is based in Miami, Florida, and graduated from the University of Alabama.  

How did you end up at Appirio?

I spent 15 years of my career managing projects in Corporate America, but left to chase the glamorous promise of venture-backed startups. While I gained a ton of experience building and scaling professional services teams, it was a constant struggle to bring order and process to an early-stage growth company. Fortunately, I reconnected with an old colleague — now an Appirian — who referred me. After running the interview gauntlet, I happily took the plunge last summer.

Tell us a little bit about your new role and how your career has evolved.

I joined Appirio as a Project Manager, but in my new role, I’m leading a team of really talented, strong Project Managers. My job is to manage the East team of PMs, and ultimately, to maintain responsibility for all the Salesforce deliveries in the region. I try to be a resource and escalation point for my team, helping them whenever and however I can, doing everything from being a sounding board to joining teams onsite for project kickoffs and other important milestones.

As a leader, whether it’s a project team or a team of direct reports, your goal is the same — make the team successful. My philosophy has always been that I work for my team. My job is to remove roadblocks, give them the support they need, and put them in a position to succeed.  Whether the goal is to deliver a Sales Cloud implementation or to coach a team member who’s looking to advance their career, I approach it the same way: Understand the objective, define what it will take to get there, and empower people to succeed.

I actually started my career as a developer, before moving into project management. It’s been an interesting ride, going from large companies to fast-paced startups, and now into consulting.  At every stop, I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to lead teams and projects. I don’t think there’s a secret to being a good leader. The bottom line is this: Respect your team and treat people the way you would want to be treated.

What do you do for fun?

Spending time with my family is always number one for me. I have two daughters who are pretty active, so there’s always a practice, swim meet, or gymnastics meet to get to. When I can find time though, I enjoy drawing (mainly pencil, colored pencil, and ink).

Any guilty pleasures?

My inner 8-year-old loves everything Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney, so I guess that counts. I don’t know if you can consider watching college football a guilty pleasure, but I’m a proud graduate of the University of Alabama … ROLL TIDE!  

Oh, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!

What has been your favorite project while working at Appirio?

My favorite project happens to be my first project at Appirio. We partnered with The First Tee, a non-profit organization delivering golf and life lessons to children around the country.  Collectively, we brought them onto the Salesforce platform and also delivered a custom event registration portal for parents. I was extremely fortunate to get to work with both a great client as well as a great project team the first time out of the gate.

How does your role impact our integration success?

Delivering our projects on time and on budget is tremendously important — not just for the success of the integration, but for the success of Appirio itself. Our ability to execute as Project Managers has a direct and measurable impact on that delivery, so it’s not an overstatement to say that the PM role is extremely critical. Working with the Governance team to continually refine and improve our methodology and processes and help them to disseminate that information to the team is a big part of my job.

What have you learned going through this integration?

Be flexible and open to other ideas and other ways of doing things. We don’t have all the answers, but no one else does either. Only by collaborating and coming together as one team can we make this integration successful.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t be afraid to take risks. Always challenge yourself and don’t allow complacency to set in. If you’re not at least a little uncomfortable or stretching yourself somehow, then you’re not growing.

What advice would you give your younger self?

It’s not about talent, it’s about how hard you’re willing to work. There will always be people with as much talent as you — if not more — but if you make a commitment that you will not allow yourself to be outworked, you’re going to be successful.

Finish this sentence: Someday, I want to ____.

Illustrate an issue of Captain America!

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