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Meet a WEXer: Kim Sorensen

Posted August 10, 2022

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When Kim Sorensen first landed a job as a customer service rep at WEX there were 20 people in her department and the company went by a different name. It was 1993. WEX was so small at the time that John Burke, WEX’s CEO during those years, was present for Sorensen’s interview: “A gentleman joined us and asked me a few questions and I only found out later he was the CEO!” Today, the customer service department at WEX is made up of over 700 people globally, and they no longer all come into an office together; they work remotely in as faraway places as Fargo, North Dakota and Melbourne, Australia.

Experiencing professional growth as a company evolves

Sorensen has welcomed the changes she’s seen during her time at WEX. “When I started there were 150 people at WEX. So when we had a company meeting, we met in the big conference room.” Now WEX is a global company with over 6,000 employees and company-wide meetings are live streamed to accommodate everyone. To host all of WEX’s employees in a physical space would require 40 conference rooms of the size that initially held the meetings Sorensen attended when she started at WEX.

When WEX was smaller, there was a more generalist approach to the work - more of a start-up mentality. “Back then, when customer service reps applied for other jobs within the company, we had so much experience because we were dealing with so many different markers and systems and customers, we had a lot under our belt.” As a result, CSRs could learn and adapt and move around and try different things within the company. Sorensen, in particular, picked up on how WEX operated on several levels in her early years on the job. She quickly moved to partner services. “There were 14 different partners at the time, I don't even know how many partners we have now. But the job was servicing our partners, working with them, and working with their customers.” She had a chance to travel as a partner services rep, to customer offices across the midwest.

Sorensen went from partner services into fleet sales which is where she found a home working in sales implementation. In this job, she works with inside and outside sales reps to get their accounts set up. “They submit their applications, get everything approved, then the customers will come to our department and we get the cards and drivers set up, to get them rolling.” Sorensen works with a team of people focused on setting up the drivers’ cards, who are in contact with the customer as the cards are set up. “As a senior implementation rep, I'm working with mainly outside sales reps. I help them. I’m kind of like their pre-card person, but I talk directly with them, while getting their account set up.” If anything is missing or Sorensen’s team needs some additional information she and her colleagues work directly with sales to resolve things for WEX’s fleet customers. As a senior rep, Sorensen also helps train new hires and temps.

Having a great team makes all the difference

Sorensen’s co-workers are a driving force for her commitment to WEX and her love for her job. “The biggest thing for me is the people I work with, my coworkers, our team. They make going to work really, really fun for me, exciting for me, and satisfying for me.” Sorensen feels the commitment of her team and thrives on the sense that they’re all in it together. “I know the team I work with and how hard we all work for the same goal.”

Building relationships at WEX contributes to a meaningful work life

Sorensen builds and nurtures friendships among her co-workers: “We try to get together, we do a little happy hour, one of the girls had a baby and so we got to meet her baby.” For Sorensen, because she’s been at WEX for so many years, the friendships go across the organization. Sorensen’s work friendships run deep. One perk of these long-term ties to colleagues is that Sorensen never frets over who to turn to when a complex problem arises or when she isn’t sure how to handle some intricacy of her job. “You do build relationships, and what is nice about being at WEX as long as I have been, if you have questions you might not know the answer to you have connections. It’s nice to have those connections.”

Sorensen recently trained a new staffer on her team and over the course of the training learned that the young woman was contemplating getting engaged to her boyfriend. “They were hemming and hawing about getting engaged and I said to her, ‘You know what, when you two get engaged, you let me know, and I’ll come up to your house and I’ll make you my baked stuffed lobster.’ A year and a half later, she goes ‘You coming up?’ and I said ‘I told you I would.’” Sorensen creates an environment where genuine affection can flourish between colleagues, where another person’s good news is celebrated by all.

Sorensen described times over the course of her nearly three decades at WEX when she and her colleagues were able to help one another through rough patches too. One friend’s child was experiencing medical issues and had to have surgery. “She was really concerned, he had been through a lot to get there. As a department we all chipped in and we got him some things to play with when he got home. He had to recover so it kept him busy. You just think of those things that you would do with your friends. You're kinda like a family, you're with them more hours a day than you are at home. It’s good to have a good relationship with your coworkers.”

A job that provides continuous learning and growth has kept Sorensen at WEX

Sorensen feels entrusted with a lot of responsibility in her work. At WEX, she has always felt a constant sense that she can continue to learn and grow. She feels her boss trusts her which is really important to Sorensen: “You're going to do this job, I have faith that you're going to do this job. It’s about taking ownership and being responsible and knowing that leadership feels that you can do it.” Sorensen’s boss’s confidence in her work ethic and competence is part of a larger dynamic of trust. Sorensen understands that if she makes a mistake along the way that her boss will support her, “I might trip, I might fall down, but I’m always going to be very open, I’ll share everything with her, good or bad.” Sorensen values learning and growth, so working for a company that shares those values has been a good fit for her, “I say to people, if I learn one new thing a day, that’s great! I swear with WEX you learn something new every day, even after 29 years.”

Finding time to travel and enjoy seeing the world

Sorensen and her wife, Shelley, who also works at WEX, consider travel their greatest love. “My first trip, when Shelley and I first got together, the very first thing we did was go to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake. Shelly had family in Salt Lake so it made sense, someone had tickets here at WEX and they couldn't go, so we bought the tickets from them.” Sorensen describes the unique value of that trip being the excitement of taking part in history. Since then, Shelley and Kim have traveled somewhere new nearly every year of their relationship. “My very first trip out of the county was to Greece, which was for two weeks. I had always seen scenes filmed in Greece in some of my favorite movies.” She wanted to see the Acropolis in person and explore Greece’s history and architecture.

In November they are going to Africa, which includes a two-week stay in South Africa. “We’ll be in Cape Town for three or four days and then we’re going to go to Zimbabwe and Botswana.” They’ll go on safari, visit Victoria Falls, and travel with a group and a guide across the countryside.

“We’ve been to Spain, and we've been to Portugal, Aruba, Morocco, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Honduras, the Bahamas, Mexico, we’ve spent two weeks in Paris.” One of Sorensen’s great loves is tennis so she and Shelley planned their trip around the French Open. “I saw Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, and Djokovic play. I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Is this real!?’ I was watching players who I’ve watched since they were kids. Going to the French Open was a wonderful experience.”

Kim and Shelley split their travel between historical spots and tropical trips because they have a love of the ocean and snorkeling. “We’ve been to a little island called Bonaire near Aruba and Curacao. It is a wonderful island, quiet but wonderful for snorkeling.” They’ve seen some wild things while snorkeling, including stingrays swimming below them. “Oh my gosh, stingrays! We were in Mexico, and we were snorkeling around these rocks and I saw something. You could see something down below, and all of a sudden he’s coming up and there’s this beautiful brown and white dotted stingray, and he was massive, just gliding up. We’ve seen eels, the big old green eels, like ‘You stay there and I’ll stay here.’” In South Africa, Sorensen hopes to see sharks while she is submerged under water in a protective cage. “I won't be too far down but just enough. This is in the Indian Ocean. They have great whites.” Kim and Shelley love most to “snorkel off the beach in the morning early when the water is calm and clear as can be.” They can swim far out but feel safe with plenty of people around.

Being Out at WEX and grateful

“Working for WEX, I never felt like I had to hide who I was.” Sorensen never had to worry that being Out at WEX would impact her career. “It was a non-issue. What a wonderful feeling it is to know that when you walk into work people will see you and say, “Oh hi Kim and Shelley!” For Sorensen that kind of freedom to be who she is at work, unapologetically, has played a role in her enduring loyalty to the company.

Soon after Sorensen and Shelley got engaged,  Shelley won a prestigious award at WEX, President’s Club. Part of the award was a trip to Jamaica with the other recipients. “One evening we were at the bar with a bunch of folks and Melissa [WEX CEO, Melissa Smith] was there. And she says to us ‘Oh! I heard you two got engaged!’ (In shock) ‘Yeah we did!’ And she was just so happy for us. Stuff like that, you don’t have everywhere. And it’s sad to say you don't have it everywhere. But you know we can be ourselves and that’s ok.”

WEX’s Sabbatical Program

Employees who’ve been at WEX for six or more years can apply to go on a sabbatical. If your sabbatical is granted you are given an additional month of vacation time to use however you choose. Sorensen’s wife, Shelley, was approved for sabbatical in 2019.

Of course, the plan included Sorensen, but she was worried about asking for that time off. “I asked my boss how she felt about me taking three weeks, Shelley had gotten one month. This is when we were going to go to Africa. And she said ‘Yes!’ and I was like ‘Really? You're going to let me, you're ok with that? Thank you!!’”  The trip, a three-week excursion planned for November of 2022, had originally been scheduled for early 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic. This kind of flexibility and support are a part of what makes WEX a special place to work.

Encouragement early on to believe in herself

Sorensen is close with her father, who will be 82 in September. “My father always told us there wasn’t anything we couldn’t do. He had two girls, he educated us, he wanted us to make sure we had our retirement, our savings, he made sure we knew about cars, he’s always been a huge supporter, to us, to me. Always right there when we needed him.” She learned a lot from her dad and felt his support most keenly when she came out to him as an adult. “He never blinked, when I came out to him, he didn’t blink, I was the same person I was two minutes ago. That’s my kid. And my mother too, I could put a rainbow flag on my parents and they’d walk in any parade. I’m so fortunate to have that because I didn’t know, things could have changed so abruptly in my life if I came out. I was in my 30s. I had been by myself and then I had met someone, and I said to myself I’m not going to hide who I am. In my own head I was saying I might lose my family. That’s a possibility. I did the rounds, my mother, my father, my sister, and nothing changed. And I am forever grateful for that. I know a lot of people who came out later in life and didn’t have that same experience. I am incredibly grateful. That just talks about the relationships I had with my parents. I’m so relieved that kids nowadays are who they are.”

Advice to her 18-year-old self

Sorensen’s advice to her younger self is to live a life without fear or regret. “You have to make sure you live your life to the fullest. Things could change dramatically, quickly, be genuine to yourself. And know that it is ok. It’s ok who you are.” She has found a way, with Shelley to work hard and also enjoy their lives. “So many of us we work, we work, we work, and that’s not all of it.” She encourages those around her to make the most of their time and not let a minute be wasted.

“It’s people like Kim Sorensen who make WEX a special place to work. She cares about her colleagues, is a dedicated team member, and takes really good care of our customers. We’re so grateful to her for her nearly 30 years of service to the company,” WEX Chief Human Resources Officer Melanie Tinto says. “She was with us in the early days and has a lot of earned wisdom and knowledge that’s invaluable to the company.”

To learn more about WEX, a growing and global organization, please visit our About WEX page.

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