5 questions with Leslie Verploegen
Our monthly checkin with staff from around the world. Learn more about the people who work at CHAI.
Please tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to CHAI.
My early career was in for-profit, but I knew I wanted to shift to working at a mission-driven organization and specifically focused on healthcare. I went back to school to get a Masters in Public Health (MPH) at Boston University. That is where I learned about CHAI, and I was drawn to the analytical and business approach. When starting my MPH I thought I would end up in a program position, but after joining CHAI I realized my quantitative skills are best put to use in finance and that I really enjoy providing support to program leads and technical staff.
1. What does a typical day at CHAI look like for you?
A typical day at CHAI often looks nothing like what I think it will when I log onto my computer in the morning. The Budgeting and Reporting team at CHAI receives almost daily ad hoc finance related requests to support new proposal opportunities, respond to donor questions, and for internal analysis. Although I’m based in Boston, most days I am in contact and collaborating with our program staff around the world, and occasionally I am communicating with donors. Any given day, I will be working on multiple grants at different stages in the grant lifecycle, from a donor proposal budget to the financial close out of a different grant that is coming to an end. No day is ever really the same.
2. What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job are the people at CHAI. There is incredible knowledge and passion among a generally very humble group of people. I am often in awe when I learn about the backgrounds of colleagues I have been working with for years and had no idea the impressive professional and profound life experiences they have had. In a support role, this means that the hard work and time I put in on the finance side is being leveraged in impactful and lifesaving ways.
3. What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is also the most interesting and what keeps me engaged. Our finance team is constantly problem solving with our program teams to ensure programs can get started and proceed with urgency while remaining compliant with donor and regulatory requirements. There is a very healthy push and pull that challenges us to come up with creative solutions to reduce administrative burden while also meeting grant and location requirements.
4. What advice would you give someone who’s considering joining CHAI?
Be prepared to move forward without having all of the answers ahead of time. Teams at CHAI are regularly setting bold and ambitious goals that pay off. Say yes to new challenges, work smart, and trust that you have the skills to make a big impact.
5. What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
When I am not working, especially these days in the middle of a global pandemic, I spend most of my time with my husband and two small children who are 9 months and 3 years old. On good days we love to cook, go for walks and find open spaces, and read books together. After the kids go to bed we try to stay up-to-date on our community and world events.