Chris Ornelas

This entry is part 57 of 77 in the series

Chris OrnelasChris Ornelas

Save A Lot
Director of International Development & Wholesale

Years with company:  10 years

Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations:

  • B.S. – University of Houston
  • MBA Graduate Candidate –Our Lady of the Lake
  •  Network of Executive Women
  • Produce Marketing Association
  • Make A Wish Foundation

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career: I have been fortunate to have had very strong role models & several key mentors throughout my career However growing up, my earliest role model and mentor was my grandmother. Being a true steel magnolia”, my grandmother became my earliest and most influential role model & mentor.  Thru her I learned early on how women in business can be a success. My grandmother grew up and lived in the” Bible Belt” in a time when few women worked outside the home and fewer still owned their own business. She taught me that women in business can be strong, independent & successful and do so with integrity, kindness & grace without compromising their values or sacrificing their family.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements? Do you have a defining moment of your career to dateI am most proud of  having been given the opportunity to lead and work with very talented individuals.  Working and training associates that continue to develop and that I see advance in their career is personally rewarding.  Those announcements &  promotions are the private moments- celebrations in which I know my contribution made a positive difference!

My defining moment:  When I began my assignment as director for international development, I met with several customers and in early conversation’s,  it became readily apparent that beyond establishing our brand abroad , driving sales and expanding market share,  as Americans that export [as an American exporter’s represents.   International customers aspire to secure a piece of “America for themselves.” As an American exporter we have a significant responsibility to uphold and deliver upon our international customers’ expectations of “American products”. Delivering safe, high quality products that the consumer everywhere can trust is critical, however what we are developing transcends our products… how we conduct business, how we operate, becomes a reflection of how “Americans in general operate”! This realization makes the difference in how we operate and interact with our international customers- we realize we set the tone for how international customers view our products, our company but also American’s overall.  That’s quite an obligation and requires more diligence and continuous attention to all nuances of how we operate to ensure we uphold our customers’ expectations and deliver a positive perception of Americans overall.

Most challenging part of your job:  Staying continually up to date & aware of the ever changing international import/ export laws as well as the political dynamics of each country in which we operate and export.

Advice for upcoming younger executives: As you work to progress in your career, don’t lose sight that your success cannot be achieved    independently, not at work nor at home.  Be genuine. Take the time to acknowledge, appreciate and engage those around you- everyone counts.

Hobbies:  Being in the food business- and genuinely interested in different foods, I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen-trying out  new recipes that I have come across in my travels and sharing the finished products with friends & family & any other brave individuals that are willing to be my “ taste testers”!  Other hobbies include working with glass- stained glass and most recently I have taken up metal-smithing.