Nexight Group is happy to welcome Kendra Chappell to the team as our new Program Manager. Kendra comes to us with more than 20 years of experience in leadership, people and project management, and operations within and across the public, private, military, and non-profit sectors. We sat down with Kendra to ask her a few questions about herself, her views, and her new role at Nexight.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Before I joined Nexight, I worked at the non-profit organization PATH, where I led a department that developed and implemented advocacy strategies to improve health policy and managed a portfolio of water and sanitation projects focused on developing products and testing marketing and distribution channels. Before PATH, I managed client relationships, programs, and projects in the healthcare, engineering, and construction management industries for Perot Systems Corporation, an information technology services and consulting firm. And, in what seems like ages ago, I wrote speeches and coordinated media, community, and congressional interaction as a Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Navy after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. While my experiences may seem pretty varied, I’ve always been fortunate to work with smart, interesting, and motivated people to deliver on a vision.
Outside of work, I enjoy trying new recipes, spending time with friends and family, reading, beekeeping, traveling, and ‘training’ for races while I try to remember why I like running.
Q: Why did you decide to join Nexight Group?
I worked with Nexight Group a number of times over the past several years, and I found the Nexight team to be professional and knowledgeable, with quick-learners that are sensitive to cultural differences and able to work with clients to overcome sticky challenges. I have always been excited about helping someone create a vision and make it reality. I also enjoy learning about different sciences, technologies, practices, and the different structures and cultures within the organizations I work for. I was looking for an opportunity to continue to grow and apply my project and program management skills across a number of areas–and feel like I was making a difference as I was doing so. Nexight is a great company, with great people and integrity, doing interesting and good work for a number of clients: the perfect fit.
Q: Given your varied background, are there common themes across your experience in the private, non-profit, and military sectors?
I found that most people where I’ve worked are passionate about their mission, vision, or product but each employee has different motivations for what he/she does: personal pride, helping others, increasing profit, intellectual challenge, serving a greater good, leaving a legacy, etc. Regardless of what they do and why, I think there are more similarities than differences, particularly when working with people who often have varying backgrounds, sometimes speak different languages (literally or figuratively), and want to accomplish something they can feel good about.
Each sector brings different strengths to the table and truly believes that by combining those different perspectives and strengths, better and longer-lasting solutions are possible. For example, I managed a project in India where we were trying to understand how best to design, manufacture, distribute, market, and ensure uptake of products that would help families in low-income countries have clean water in their homes. While the project was initially focused on the private sector’s role, what we found is that success was dependent on a combination of sectors and skills. The private sector was best suited to the design, manufacturing, and distribution of the project; the public sector could set standards and remove barriers to getting the solution to people; and the non-profit and community organizations were well-suited to work directly with communities because of their understanding of community needs and their ability to persuade a community to adopt new ideas. The world in which we live isn’t siloed, so oftentimes the answers to challenges or new ideas need to be crosscutting as well.
Q: How do you think this applies to what you’ll be doing at Nexight?
I think that my experience matches well with our strengths in working with groups–often across sectors and functions–to develop a strong strategy, formulate a realistic plan, or translate and communicate information and knowledge in a way that is useful to stakeholders. I also think that some of the different approaches and tools I’ve applied and lessons I’ve learned while working with different groups will be useful as I work with clients in government, the private sector, associations, and non-profits across a variety of technical areas.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about your new position?
In previous roles, I’ve been embedded as manager, project manager, or leader to support organizations and people with different functional expertise or focus. At Nexight, I’m excited to do that for a variety of clients and have a community of experts in program and project management, strategy, analysis, communications, and facilitation to work with, bounce ideas off of, learn from, and geek out with over new tools and approaches. I feel like I’ve found my tribe and still have all the advantages of being embedded in very different but interesting worlds.