Chris Wiedmar

So, can you start by sharing a bit about your role as VP of Operations at Forest Giant?

My job is to streamline operations, improve efficiencies, and head up sales and strategic partnerships. Essentially what that means is keeping the business moving forward - making sure we’re focused on the right projects and partnering with the right companies in 2018 and beyond. So whether that means partnering with a company like Hypergiant that can extend our offerings in artificial intelligence or a hardware partner out of Hong Kong like dbTechnologies, we see where we have gaps and I help fill those.

Could you share with me a little bit about your path to becoming the VP of Operations?

Forest Giant had a sales opening back in 2016 - I really wanted that position as Head of Sales. It did not pan out originally though, so I was brought on to consult from a business standpoint. I continued to work with Dave, Jon, and Jesse throughout the year to create the current role of operations that I’m in today. We had to strategically figure out the right role with a mix of sales and operations before I could jump in.

Can you tell me a little bit about a project you recently worked on?

In my capacity I don’t focus solely on one project; part of my job is to work with Dave along with the creative and development teams to bring in new projects. A couple of projects such as UPS, LG&E, and Realtree have been some of the ones we have brought on since I’ve joined the company, with our main goal trying to diversify the clients we work with and not be tied down to one organization. Those three projects were all very different in their own regard, but I think the teams are enjoying the variety.

Since the tasks in your position are so diverse…what does a typical day look like for you?

Every day is different. A lot of it depends on where I am in the sales process. For instance, right now we have three large projects that are about to close…it’s kind of a balancing act of meeting with those clients to make sure everything is in place to close those deals, but at the same time you don’t want to lose track and vision of other prospects and upcoming projects. So that’s kind of how I spend my time.

We’re also hiring at Forest Giant right now, so I help facilitate and find candidates for user experience roles, design roles, development roles, and a new role we are bringing on for product management. Figuring out when we can make those offers along with determining when we can sign off on those new projects is a core responsibility of mine from a production standpoint. We are in a closing stage for some of these deals, but once that stage is over I’ll shift to more prospecting.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in this position?

The biggest challenge is, at least for someone like myself coming from an organization of 10,000 employees to an organization of right around 20, is that you have to wear a lot of different hats and take on a lot of different roles, whereas in my previous roles you could delegate really easily. There is someone who builds presentations and proposals, right? You have to do that on your own. The people that can book meetings for you? You have to do that on your own here. So it’s a good challenge, but it takes away from other things you could be doing. So the biggest challenge, really, is where to dedicate your time. Right now we are in a pretty good groove of how that’s split up and delegated, but it’s still a challenge.

Are there any tips or advice you’d give to someone aspiring to follow a similar career path?

Yeah, I think it is important to go out and try a couple different things. When I first got out of school, I started at an IT staffing company and learned that technology is where I wanted to be. Everyone has different callings, but I saw that technology was the future and there would always be money in it. From there, I moved on to a much bigger organization that sold software and hardware. So I learned the people aspect first, then moved into a role where I understood the tools they needed. I made a lot of great connections along the way.

From there I moved to a consulting role with a much bigger organization where I consulted with executives on and what their IT, technology roadmap, and strategy should be. That led me to see a holistic view of what the technology industry looked like throughout the world, but also in Kentucky and Louisville in particular. Knowing the guys at Forest Giant, it’s one of the few places that’s innovative and progressive in our city, so that’s when after these experiences, it was the type of place I knew I wanted to be at. It’s been the best decision of my career.

Colin O'Daniel
Sales + Marketing Intern