Sitting down with U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus to discuss his first 100 days at the helm of the nation’s largest federal law enforcement agency, the conversation quickly focused on the importance of working with people to get things done. “Everything I feel has been a successful accomplishment has been the result of a team that I’ve been part of.”
Working with others is a trademark of his management style. He describes himself as having a participative leadership ethos. “I know I certainly don’t have all the answers [and] you can be in a career like I had for four decades and still have a lot to learn,” said Magnus. “My management style will always reflect my enthusiasm and acknowledgement that there’s a lot that I can learn from other people and that will help me be more effective in leading CBP.”
Magnus’ career spans four decades and the continental U.S. He began his law enforcement career in Michigan, with the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department before achieving the rank of captain with the Lansing Police Department. Magnus moved on to become chief of police in Fargo, North Dakota; Richmond, California; and Tucson, Arizona.
Going from a force of just under 1,000 personnel in Tucson, the jump to lead CBP’s over 60,000 workforce at first left Magnus feeling stunned by the sheer size and scope of the agency’s mission and responsibilities. After a few months on the job, he’s most impressed by the workforce, calling CBP an “agency of innovators.” He emphasized, “There are some incredibly talented people who are leading this agency and I really feel fortunate to have so many of them helping me as I make this transition.”