CPEP: Bruce Dixon
Through innovative out-of-school programs, CPEP serves as a catalyst to significantly change under-represented students’ knowledge, attitude, and behaviors relating to the pursuit of STEM careers.
CPEP CEO Bruce Dixon can spot encore talent a mile away. His own journey from the insurance business to STEM education gives him a sharp eye for relevant skills and passion in candidates with for-profit experience. When he met Tracie Cloutier, who had 23 years of financial services experience, Bruce saw a new resource for his team.
Bruce commented, “For nonprofits to be successful, they must develop innovative hiring strategies . . . to hire individuals who have broad and deep business experience. In almost every case, we must seriously consider experienced talent due to the added value they bring to an organization. Their value amplifies an organization’s ability to operate more . . . efficiently due to their understanding of best practices in many functions.”
“In considering experienced talent from another sector, first and foremost we look for people passionate about our mission, who wholeheartedly embrace the work. Second, we look to individuals over 50 who want to leverage their experiences while understanding that the nonprofit sector is drastically different than the for-profit sector. There’s a steep learning curve; humility and compassion are two words that would sum it up for us!”
“Prior to my tenure at CPEP, I worked for 20+ years in the financial services industry,” Bruce explained. “I realized I could use my corporate experiences to help build an organization that was effective and sustainable. To that end, I looked to find others with similar backgrounds to help us with our work. In order for us to actualize our mission we need to build, maintain and nurture a strong business – that’s something encore careerists understand.”
Bruce commented on his own transition: “I realized that I had a burning passion to help less fortunate students. This drive was so strong that I left two decades years of corporate life in 2007 to run the Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program.
“I believe that I’ve discovered my dream job. I can pursue my passion to help underrepresented students while leveraging my educational and job-related experience to create a nationally award winning nonprofit. It’s been a great marriage of my heart and my head.”
Bruce’s advice for hiring managers considering hiring 50+ talent and/or people from the corporate sector:
- Confirm that the mission is an absolute passion for the individual.
- In recruiting, paint a clear picture that demonstrates the “day in the life” of a nonprofit employee. Many people who have worked in for-profit corporations are accustomed to having more functional resources available to them. In many nonprofits, one must roll up their sleeves to do whatever needs to be done to further the organization’s mission.
- Create site visits for the individual to see first-hand the organization’s work and allow them to interact with participants/clients.
- Where possible, create an internship opportunity for the individual to assess organizational fit and interest.