Inside Aperian Global: Kris Schorno
In our monthly interview series, Inside Aperian Global, you will get to know the passionate people that drive Aperian Global’s mission, values, and day-to-day operations. Aperian Global’s employees will provide you with a sneak peek into their work lives and share stories about themselves. In June, we spoke to our Program Manager, Debora Chacon, a Brazilian based in Kolding, Denmark. This month, we are shifting our attention to her manager, Kris Schorno, Senior Client Relations Manager & Director of Operations, who is based in Kansas, USA.
Q: Kris, you have been with Aperian Global for 23 years, and have seen many turns and developments along the way. If you think back to the beginning, what led you to the cross-cultural field and this company?
When you grow up in Oklahoma everyone assumes you are Native American. It is not as common to be from Switzerland. I have a Native American mother and a father whose family was from Switzerland. This was my first exposure to culture. I really enjoy trying to understand the why behind how people are different. To this day that subject still really fascinates me.
After I graduated from college, I decided to go into sales. I liked the idea of selling but not what I was selling. To make a long story short, I was introduced to Ted Dale, the co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Aperian Global, who was looking for a Director of Marketing. I could not pass up the idea of working for a company that that allowed me to be involved in Sales, Marketing and Culture. That was the start of my life at the company that has been known at that time as ITRI/ICS, then Meridian Resources, Meridian Eaton & finally Aperian Global.
Q: Could you describe a typical work day for us in your home office in Lawrence/Kansas City?
Before I do anything I have to feed my cat. Then I turn on the computer. I have always started work fairly early, around 7 AM. I try to stop by 5:30 PM so I can work out and have dinner before my evening calls. Most nights, I have a couple of meetings with my colleagues/clients from 9-11 PM.
Q: You lead a virtual team of program managers across the world and most of your direct reports have joined Aperian Global in the recent years of the company’s history. How do you bridge the information gap to the younger generation of employees when it comes to the company’s history and long-term development?
I try to share the company history during the on-boarding process. I find it helps to give new employees an understanding about how things have evolved at Aperian Global. Everyone has a different idea as to how quickly things happen. By providing new hires with some examples of how things have changed it helps set expectations. I often remind people that we did not have email at Aperian Global when I started!
In terms of long-term development, this is something we talk about on a regular basis. I am always looking for ways to provide my team with professional development opportunities. These projects help build the Program Managers’ skills and ultimately makes them better candidates for future opportunities within the company. If you look at the various departments at Aperian Global, most departments have one team member who use to be a Program Manager.
Q: Your team is mostly part of Generation Y (also known as Millennials). How do you perceive the generational diversity in your team in terms of the strengths of the different generations? How do you navigate the challenges?
Each person on the Program Management team has skills that are unique to being a Program Manager (PM). We like to say: “Once a PM, always a PM.”
It is the way people learn and develop that seems more directly linked to their generation. When we need to change an existing process, I provide the instructions in three different ways depending on the person’s learning style.
1. Written Instructions and then Q&A
2. Virtual Demonstration
3. Schedule an Individual Meeting
I find that those who fall into the Generation X category will need to talk through the change and address a lot of the “what if” questions. This group needs to go through this process in order to feel comfortable about the change. By starting with the Generation X members of the team, I receive the questions I need in building a more complete set of written instructions. For the Millennial members of the team, I like to share the instructions via SalesForce Chatter and then set aside time for Q&A during a team meeting.
During the Q&A we have a more focused conversation, since all of the generations have had time to think about the change. This might seem like a lot of steps but overall it talks less time to train someone how to do something if they are comfortable with the method of delivery.
Q: Finally, if you don’t mind, share something we don’t know about you yet!
I have an amazing tequila collection. When my husband and I travel, we are always searching for that one dusty bottle that has been sitting on the shelf for years.
There is a number (NOM) on each bottle of tequila that indicates the distiller and the brand. A number of distilleries make more than one type of tequila under different names. I definitely have my favorite NOMs: Siete Lequas NOM 1120, T1 NOM 1146, Tapatio NOM 1139.
Suggested Reading: Attracting & Retaining Millennials in the Global Workforce