We Are Wabash_Chris Roberts (July 2020) (1)

We Are Wabash: Chris Roberts

  • Culture
  • Employee Engagement
by Rachelle Henderson, Communications Specialist | Nov 11, 2020

Wabash National’s Chris Roberts is both one-of-a-kind and as all-American as it gets: a family man, Navy veteran, respected team member and colleague. Chris is that guy who his colleagues admire – the one who brings out the best in others. When asked about a day in his life as a senior manager of corporate applications and IT delivery at Wabash National, he responds with humor and compassion.

“A typical day in my job looks something like ‘Ahhhh! Nothing works!’ or ‘Hey! I need this fixed – can you do this NOW?’ But, in all seriousness, I am blessed to be surrounded with dedicated, smart and caring people who are focused on helping others find the solutions they need – no matter the request.”

Nowhere is Chris’ whatever-it-takes attitude clearer than his five words of advice to others in his field: “Don’t say ‘Not my job,’” he advises.

And that reflects Chris’ character of integrity, leadership and compassion.

It may come naturally, then, to learn Chris has served a total of 14 years in the United States Navy: five years active duty, nine years reserves, with seven months in Afghanistan. He brings to Wabash lessons he learned in the military. Being a member of U.S. armed forces taught him to balance leadership and teamwork.

“Military is a commitment: long days, sacrifices, teamwork, leadership, ethics, integrity and decision making. I love being a sailor and being a part of something bigger than myself. I draw on this attitude and the skills and qualities I developed in the Navy to accomplish needs for Wabash National.”

His love of being part of something bigger than himself shines when he reflects on his proudest moments, so far, at Wabash National.

“There are many moments of which I’m proud, but the one I’m most proud of is how we transformed the IT Support Center—which is Wabash’s hub for handling IT issues across the entire company. It’s impressive to see how the Support Center has evolved from where it was when I started seven years ago to where it is now. Support Center staff are a small team juggling over 45,000 requests a year to support all IT issues at Wabash National, and they do these seven days a week, 24 hours a day.”

Outside of work, he prioritizes family. When asked how he’s surviving these strange times, it’s about family.

“Living in the pandemic has helped me put family in perspective, and my family has benefitted by spending time together and slowing down. Because of this, this month, our kids were able to complete their four-year goal to earn their black belts in Karate.”

Still, when it comes to balancing family and career, Chris is authentic and transparent about his experiences.

“I can’t say that I have balanced or perfected it. It is difficult, for sure, and at times, I fail. With Wabash National, Navy and family, I can get distracted and place family on the backburner, at times. My son recently asked to build a PC together for his birthday. He loves to build and wants to be an astronaut. When he first asked, I heard, ‘Let’s spend more money on something that dad could buy cheaper as finished product.’ What he was trying to tell me was that he wanted to do something together—just the two of us. My wife helped me see that, and it helped me remember that it’s easy to take family for granted because we expect them to give us a pass. I am constantly trying to do better with having gratitude for my family.”

Chris’ openness to listen, learn and help others achieve success is what motivates him most.

“I love to see people around me be successful. I love to lead and coach others. When people experience the reward from all their hard work and their confidence grows…that inspires me.”

Lately, when Chris is taking a break from leading others, he’s been streaming Ozark, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, and loves re-watching the Cubs win the World Series (at least once a month).

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