Silver Linings: How Tampa Bay area business leaders are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic

Sharing glimmers: Tampa Bay Business and Wealth talks to local business leaders and influencers on their silver linings, during the uncertainty of this global pandemic.

If you have a silver lining to share, please contact Bridgette Bello at [email protected].

For Dan Rodriguez, president and executive advisor at Next Path Career Partners, it’s a time to “pay it forward.” As Rodriguez explains, “as a staffing company, our job as recruiters right now is to help people whether it generates revenue or not. We’re really striving to help people who suddenly find themselves in a dire situation. It may mean fine-turning a resume, providing interview tips or brain-storming alternative options, but to Rodriguez, the most important thing is to offer support: “A lot of the people reaching out to us right now are not in our normal verticals and in normal times would never be in touch. But even if we don’t have a position that matches their skill-set, we can give them our time. Listen, advise and offer support. Hopefully, in some small way, we can guide them towards their next position.”

Carrie Charles, CEO of BroadStaff, another Bay area staffing company specializing in 5G talent, agrees: “There’s a huge opportunity right now to be a resource for others, not only for our industry. It’s not about selling something but about really thinking how we can help, how can we make a difference?” Charles points out that the situation has also motivated her team to find innovative solutions. “We’ve had the opportunity to get really creative for new programs for our staffing clients. This situation has forced us to be creative, to think outside the box.” Whether it’s implementing extended payment terms to ease the immediate financial pressure on small companies or developing new processes to encourage staff retention, Charles believes the current situation has engendered an exciting boost of creativity.

A former resilience and executive life coach it is Charles’ first crisis situation in a leadership role, but she’s embracing the moment. “I’ve really challenged myself to think about how to be a great leader during this time. There’s a lot of learning opportunities, and I’m trying to take every piece and learn from it to be a better leader for BroadStaff and take it into the future for my company.

Rodriguez, on the other hand, is no stranger to adversity. With over twenty-five years in staffing, he’s weathered the aftermath of 9/11, and the Great Recession of 2008, while he was founder/ CEO of Veredus Corporation: “I have been fortunate, or unfortunate, to have gone through difficult times,” Rodriguez says, “but with those experiences I know, this too will pass. We’ll get through this and things will be better, health-wise and economic-wise.”

On a personal note, Rodriguez is grateful for the added time with his family. “It’s been great being around the house, being around my family more. My son is super-bored, as he’s used to playing a competitive sport, so it’s good to see him step back and recharge. My daughter came back from college, for a visit, and my other daughter is a nurse, a Tampa first responder, so this situation has made me grateful for the added time spent together.” Adds Charles, “It’s definitely the added time with my kids, now all home from university. We’re eating dinner together every night and I’m getting to know parts of them that I never knew, now as young adults, since they were all away at school.”

Another personal aspect that Charles highlights is “being happy with less. Part of it is material, as in I don’t need all the stuff I thought I needed. But part of it is from a woman’s standpoint: I don’t need so many added layers to myself. I haven’t colored my hair, I’ve taken off my nails and eyelashes, and it’s okay. I’m finding this cool sense of power in authenticity.”

Charles admits it was “scary” at first, but she’s happier now emphasizing a healthy, fit lifestyle instead. “I’m in the best shape of my life, doing yoga again, improvising with a small gym I constructed in the garage with whatever I could find. It’s really made me realize how important it is to be who you are, that being you is enough, being you is just awesome.”

As Rodriguez concludes: “A final positive is in our relationships with our employees, candidates and clients. Loyalty works both ways. When this thing turns, we’re going to have a loyal group of employees who will come out of the gates charging. Now is the time to hone our skills, to focus on the people-aspect of the business. Fundamentally we’re in the business to change people’s lives, to put them in the position to succeed. We’ve got to be able to do that at all times — when the economy is good and when the economy is not as good. This will pass and in the meantime, we’re going to help as many people as we can to get back to work and to succeed.”



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