Business Q & A

5 questions with Christian Lehr

Christian Lehr has had one of the more unusual career paths among his bank executive colleagues.

The recently named vice president of treasury services for Commerce Bank entered the industry with a bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University that combined the disciplines of advertising, marketing and public relations.

After completing a marketing internship at Commerce, his first full-time job there was in group operations, where he worked as a “float.”

“Which was a great starting point because I got experience in all parts of the bank,” Lehr, 33, said.

In that position, he started each day not really knowing exactly where he was going to be working. It could be in the vault, assisting with a branch audit or working as a teller.

“It was always something different,” Lehr said.

A graduate of Kapaun Mount Carmel High School and a father of a 6-month-old daughter, Lehr has worked in the bank’s treasury services area for six years.

He joined the bank in 2001.

Q. How did you end up in banking with an integrated marketing communications degree?

A. I always thought I would end up in advertising — that was my goal — or some form of PR, but when I started working at the bank, the marketing positions were very few and far between. I worked myself up through the bank until I learned I had a knack for sales.

Q. Where do you want to go from here in your career?

A. I used to think about that a lot. All the things I envisioned 10 years ago didn’t turn out, but things have worked out for the best. Eventually I’d like to pass on the knowledge that I gained in some type of leadership role.

Q. What is one of the top issues right now in the treasury services business?

A. Fraud control. It’s a big issue, whether it’s internal or external. A lot of companies, they kind of overlook the topic unless they have first-hand experience with it. Before the economy went on a downturn, we dealt with fraud once or twice a month. Now, we deal with it once a week.

Q. What keeps you up at night?

A. I would say my daughter, but most people know my wife (Rebecca) is nice enough to get up with her at night.

Q. What’s one thing most of your colleagues and clients don’t know about you?

A. Three years ago my grandpa got me into wood turning. It’s amazing what you can make out of a block of wood with a lathe and tools. It’s an opportunity to spend time with him. We belong to a group here locally that gets together once a month and shows off projects.