From his early hustle in political strategy to our Head of Operations: Take a peek into Chris’ career discovery at OCUS
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Chris, how would you introduce yourself and what you are doing in OCUS to someone you just met?
My name is Christopher Kaisoum and my main priority at OCUS is to ensure that our services are delivered on time and in full to our clients while simultaneously looking for ways to innovate and improve processes.
Can you tell us how you became what you always wanted to be professionally? What experiences impacted you early in life?
An experience that impacted me occurred when I was 11 years old sitting in class and watching my teacher frantically turn the television on. We then all witnessed the second airplane hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. My aunt worked in the building and it wasn’t until later I learned that thankfully she did not go into the office that day. This event confused, angered, and saddened me all at the same time and I was determined to find a profession that allowed me the ability to try to work towards ensuring an event like that would never happen again. This pushed me towards going to university in Washington DC and pursuing an early career in defense and political strategy. While I ultimately left that field for the private sector, I would like to return one day to a profession that allows me to work towards the goal of establishing geopolitical stability.
What made you decide to move from USA to France and join OCUS?
My first role at OCUS was to open our North American office in New York City in 2019. Over time, I became more involved with teams based in France and was given the opportunity to move in order to work more closely with central operations. My father spent a lot of time growing up in France and it has always been a dream of mine to live here as he did. OCUS allowed that dream to come true.
What is it like to work in France? Memories from your first steps here?
It is similar enough to working in the US that I often forget I am working in a different country. This may sound like a positive but it actually can present a challenge as I become aware, after the fact, that I conducted myself as I would in an American work environment without realizing it. There are subtle differences that must be respected and I hope that my colleagues would say that I am adapting well as time goes on.
One of my first memories occurred when I arrived to the office on my birthday to see posters for the show “Emily In Paris” all over the office, including the bathroom, with my face superimposed on them. My team then surprised me with over 10 gifts specifically related to things I have said overdone since our time working together. This was really touching as I had only been in France for a couple of months and they made me feel like I belonged. I do hope that they don’t see me as clueless as Emily by now...
What is something that you are passionate about?
I’m very passionate about having discussions with people who have very different opinions and experiences than myself. The most effective way to do this is to travel the world as much as possible and connect with those around you when you do. I find that more than ever, people surround themselves with opinions that reinforce their own because it is comfortable. I try to break out of that comfort zone as it is such a rewarding experience for me to try and see the world through someone else’s eyes and hopefully have them take a look through mine.
Working for OCUS, how do you define ‘imagery’?
Worth a 1,000,000 words.
Since you joined OCUS, what have you learned about yourself?
I have definitely learned that I am much more stubborn that I previously thought. Earlier in my career, I was much more deferential to my peers that had more experience and a senior title. This behavior was reinforced by the top-down nature that I find to be more prevalent in the American work environment.
However, I now find myself being much stronger in my convictions when I believe what I am suggesting is the right path and fight for what I believe in. This can sometimes cause friction but I truly believe that organizations of any kind cannot achieve excellence without a little friction as long as all parties remain respectful.
Working in operations: what is the hardest and what is the most exciting?
The most difficult part of operations at OCUS is that we do not fully control the entire lifecycle of our service. This means that by the time we receive the order, it can contain new and unexpected challenges. This variability means that we must always be agile. While every business book will tell you is the goal but they often leave out the part that mentions how difficult this is for a team to maintain year over year.
This challenge also presents the most exciting opportunity as much of what we do can be quantifiably measured. If we implement an improvement, we can use data to ascertain if our work had the intended impact or not. Seeing the tangible impact of one’s work is highly rewarding.
What do you think made you grow so fast between your first and most recent position at OCUS?
At every company I work for, I aim to build a reputation of being someone who, when given a task, it is assumed that it will be returned both ahead of schedule and thoughtfully completed. I believe I am able to do so because I have had some excellent mentors in my career that always pushed me to be better combined with the ability to thrive in environments with high levels of stress and uncertainty for long periods of time.
Any tips to apply to OCUS?
If you are unsure but see a position at OCUS that interests you, at the very least apply and go through the interviews. When I was urged to apply to OCUS, I already had a signed job offer. However, after speaking with the founder and the team, I knew this was the place for me.