Game-changing ideas from our own key talents

CEO Challenge 2021 Winners - Chris Flakus and Melissa Fulmore-Hardwick

At RGF Staffing we’re not only helping our clients and candidates to grow, but also create platforms for our own employees to flourish. That’s why we started the CEO Challenge, an internal program for our senior key talent to develop game-changing ideas. After a year of hard work and dedication, nine teams from our business units from around the world put in their ideas, with Florida-based CSI Companies seizing the first prize.

There was a wealth of wonderful ideas among the competing teams, such as; forest planting to bring us to net zero; a client portal to enable faster, simpler client transactions; a gamification of initial candidate screening for high-volume client requirements; a portfolio of inclusion & diversity initiatives to further-support existing activities; a candidate portal to enable flex workers to manage their bookings anytime anywhere; a service provision to support immigrants in their readiness for the job market; a training app to help job-seekers to upskill; and creating opportunities for life for students to support them through their whole career journey.

CSI Connects chosen as winning project

After a long and thorough debate, a jury consisting of RGF Staffing executives chose CSI Companies as this year’s winning team. Melissa Fulmore-Hardwick and Chris Flakus created ‘CSI Connect’, a new program in which CSI Companies partners with local colleges and high schools to help increase the number of kids from under-represented groups, which for the Jacksonville area are kids of color, who go into technology fields. It was officially launched as a pilot at the beginning of this past school semester and has already resulted in two interns at CSI Companies.

Melissa: “Once fully implemented, the program will provide internships, mentoring, tuition assistance, and technology related workshops in underserved parts of our city. During our challenge journey, we found that these students aren’t exposed to technology careers early enough. As such, the high school we partnered with (in one of Jacksonville’s lowest income neighborhoods) has committed to us implementing CSI Connect on their campus. Students ages 14-18 will be introduced to technology programs, which will lead to a greater pipeline of students seeking IT degrees and becoming candidates for the CSI Connect internship opportunities. Eventually, we will expand this program into other cities and provide a framework that can be executed globally.”

The winning team will have their business idea funded to enable them to bring it to life! In addition to the funding, the winning team were awarded €30,000 to donate to a charity of their choice.

Melissa: “We are incredibly honored to be selected as the winner of the first CEO Challenge. Our challenge journey has taught us that this business case is much more than just business, it’s personal. With the support of RGF Staffing, we can take CSI Connect to new levels globally.”

Goal of the CEO Challenge

The goal for the CEO Challenge 2021 was for each team to create a solution that addressed a real business problem in their business, and the solution had to address the following criteria; close the opportunity gap, inspire new ways of working and celebrate diversity & inclusion. The rest was up to the teams to get creative with.

Meeting the expectations

Angela Ashwell, Global Head of Talent, Performance and Inclusion led the initiative: “From a small seed of an idea, The CEO Challenge grew into the programme we always hoped it would. As this is ultimately a leadership development programme we ensured that the teams were supported with coaching, strategic workshops and mentoring to help them bring their ideas to life. All of this was done outside of their day jobs – and the dedication and outcomes were exceptional!”

‘Our people are our real capital’

Rob Zandbergen CEO RGF Staffing says he was impressed with the quality of all of the pitches. “The ideas and topics were very diverse and showed real creativity, with CSI meeting the criteria of solving a business problem while addressing local social issues the best. This program has been a true reminder that the real capital of our company is our people. We saw nine great teams and picking a winning team was difficult, it really showed that by giving our top talent the opportunity to play a bigger part in our strategic direction meant that we had access to a broader diversity of thought, and the participants got the platform they deserved to be heard.”