Our Mission in Action: Bill Combs

Our guiding force at Rural Sourcing is our mission: to create high-quality technology jobs in Middle America cities where talent is often overlooked. Our Mission in Action showcases Rural Sourcing colleagues who represent how this mission impacts individuals and the communities in which we operate. Bill Combs’ love for technology began at the age of 13 when he received his first computer. After discovering BASIC and learning a few commands, he was hooked. Despite discovering this new hobby, however, it would take a few life changes before he was able to pursue a career in tech. The path to Rural Sourcing In 1999, Bill joined the Navy as an Aviation Structural and Hydraulics Mechanic. After leaving the military, he began a career in manufacturing and construction, and while he always took pride in his work, he didn’t find it fulfilling. After years of taking on solo development projects on the side (and a serious injury on the job), he finally decided to go all-in down this new path. After many late nights and weekends, Bill received his software engineering degree. Finding the right fit After receiving his degree, Bill started to apply for full-time developer roles. Despite having worked on solo projects for much of his life, he didn’t have experience working on a professional development team or in an Agile environment. His application was rejected almost immediately at many of the companies where he applied. Rural Sourcing seemed different, though. Bill researched the company before applying and, from the outside, it seemed like they’d be willing to take a chance on people who were new to the industry if they had the drive to learn. He was excited to be brought in for an interview. An opportunity to grow After meeting with Bill Rose, Director of Rural Sourcing’s new Development Center in Fort Wayne, Bill knew that he’d found the right place to start his career in tech. He soon discovered that the culture was all about supporting and mentoring colleagues who come from different backgrounds. He says, “Rural Sourcing has a culture that doesn’t restrict you. If you want to learn a new technology, the tools are there to help you do it.” In fact, after his initial project finished, he was asked by Bill Rose, “What do you want to do next?” He answered .NET because, despite working in web, he’d always had an interest in it. That pivot sent him on an adventure that he described as “the most challenging and rewarding thing I’d ever done as a developer.” Helping others While Bill is still pushing himself and his technical abilities, he’s also focused on helping new colleagues. “There were colleagues in my first few weeks at Rural Sourcing who were extremely gracious with their time, and now that I’ve been here a while, I try to be just as helpful as others have been to me.” DISCOVER MORE

Our Mission in Action: Brandon Avant

Our guiding force at Rural Sourcing is our mission: to create high-quality technology jobs in Middle America cities where talent is often overlooked. Our Mission in Action showcases Rural Sourcing colleagues who represent how this mission impacts individuals and the communities in which we operate. As he was entering his senior year as a computer science student at Arkansas State University, Brandon Avant was looking for an internship that would set the tone for the rest of his career. He’d already spent much of his childhood educating himself on the latest in technology, so he wanted an employer that would support his passion for lifelong learning. After meeting with Rural Sourcing and connecting with our mission and his potential colleagues, he decided to join our Junior Associate program as a programmer analyst. The opportunity to grow Ten years later Brandon is now a successful Principal Consultant and Technical Lead where he’s worked with clients in many industries, including agriculture, medical, and transportation. He says that being at Rural Sourcing has given him many opportunities to grow his professional skillset, and has enjoyed being able to mentor younger colleagues. Brandon shares, “Ever since I was a child, I’ve been interested in software development; I consider designing and writing code more of a hobby and less of a job, which is why I write software during my personal time as well. My career here at Rural Sourcing has allowed me to take what I enjoy and make a career out of it; for that, I would like to thank Rural Sourcing.”

Making Accessibility a Priority

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). When the ADA became law in 1990, it prohibited discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, and transportation. When the law was passed the internet was merely a tool to allow research professors to share notes. The law dealt largely with the physical world we lived in, not this virtual world where we shop, work, and play online. While the passing of this bill was certainly long overdue, I believe that employers, especially today, have an ongoing responsibility to improve the opportunities afforded to those with disabilities, and create an equally accessible world for them to succeed. As the father of two sons with special needs, equal accessibility for those with disabilities is something that I’ll always take a stand for. 61 million people The CDC reports that 1 in 4 American adults (that’s 61 million people) live with some sort of disability in the categories of mobility, cognition, hearing, vision, independent living, or self-care. That’s a large group of people with a wide range of skills that we as employers would be irresponsible to ignore. Through Rural Sourcing’s partnership with Georgia Tech Excel, a four-year college program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, we’ve had the opportunity to recruit some seriously talented junior associates in our Atlanta office. I’m also proud to serve on the Board at Ventures ATL, a non-profit organization that provides meaningful employment opportunities for adults with Autism or other developmental disabilities. It’s estimated that 80-90% of adults with Autism are unemployed, which is an unfortunate statistic considering so many of these individuals are extremely detail-oriented, logical thinkers, and have a strong technical aptitude – all sought-after skills that any employer would value.   The Walgreens standard Randy Lewis, a former VP at Walgreens who’s also the father of a son with special needs, pioneered a disability employment model in the company’s Anderson, SC distribution center that has truly set the standard in accessibility hiring. His model resulted in more than 10% of Walgreens’ distribution center workforce being comprised of people with disabilities. Lewis said, “The performance was the same. The safety was better. [The distribution centers] had better retention; they had less turnover. We also found better culture across the company.”  Doing our part At Rural Sourcing, our human resources and recruiting teams, along with our Equity Inclusion & Diversity (EI&D) Council, are working hard to make sure that we’re an attractive place to work for those with disabilities. Some of the steps we’re taking include ensuring we’re using inclusive language in our job descriptions, having quiet individual workspaces in our development centers for those who need fewer distractions, and we’re training our developers on how to make software applications that are accessible to all audiences. I’m excited for us as an organization, because I know these efforts are going to introduce us to many talented colleagues with disabilities; people who will enrich our business in a profound way. The supportive and inclusive culture at Rural Sourcing is something we are really proud of, and by making accessibility a priority in our hiring practices, we’re making our culture a priority, too.

Our Mission in Action: Jeanne Schmidt

Our guiding force at Rural Sourcing is our mission: to create high-quality technology jobs in Middle America cities where talent is often overlooked. Our Mission in Action showcases Rural Sourcing colleagues who represent how this mission impacts individuals and the communities in which we operate. Jeanne Schmidt has had an impressive career in tech. For many years, she worked at PeopleSoft in Silicon Valley, where she watched the company grow from only a few hundred people to over 10,000 employees. She learned a lot during her tenure at PeopleSoft, and really enjoyed the culture, but after Oracle’s acquisition of the company, certain things changed. The culture she had come to love was no longer in place, and frequent meetings at Oracle’s headquarters meant a much lengthier commute. As the mother of two young daughters, Jeanne wanted to make a change to support a better work/life balance for her family. Heading east With the high cost of living in the Bay Area, Jeanne and her husband decided to start looking for jobs in more affordable areas, preferably on the east coast to be closer to her family. After her husband got a job in Augusta, Georgia, Jeanne enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom for a few years while her children were still young. Eventually, she wanted to return to work, and spent a couple of years at other organizations, before getting a call from a recruiter at Rural Sourcing in 2013. Challenging but rewarding Working at Rural Sourcing presented an opportunity for Jeanne that otherwise might not have existed in Augusta: the ability to work for “an impressive list of clients” while living much closer to family, and with a higher quality of life. Jeanne says, “Since I started at Rural Sourcing, I’ve been able to watch the company grow and maintain its fun, positive culture. I’ve been impressed with the type of project work we do and the list of clients we have. This is challenging, rewarding work that has allowed me to grow in my career and mentor others.” DISCOVER MORE

Our Mission in Action: Natascha Thomas

Our guiding force at Rural Sourcing is our mission: to create high-quality technology jobs in Middle America cities where talent is often overlooked. Our Mission in Action showcases Rural Sourcing colleagues who represent how this mission impacts individuals and the communities in which we operate. Before starting at Rural Sourcing, Natascha Thomas worked for companies where many young developers have dreams of making their mark one day, including EA Games and Disney. With the exciting subject matter, however, came some drawbacks. Natascha’s work-life balance was basically non-existent, and she had become defensive and untrusting of her colleagues due to the competitive nature of the office. Plus, she wasn’t able to achieve her savings goals because of the high cost of living in Los Angeles.  From the ocean to the gulf Natascha and her family decided to move to her husband’s hometown of Mobile, Alabama where she accepted an offer at Rural Sourcing. Here she found a much more collaborative and supportive culture: “I’m never ashamed to ask for help, and have never had anyone say to me, ‘you should know this.’ I can tell my manager if I’m feeling ‘underwater’ or have too much assigned to me without fearing that it could negatively impact my career advancement.” A better quality of life Natascha took to living in Mobile right away: “I think the things that really drew me in about Mobile compared to Los Angeles were the low traffic, clean streets, and polite folks with cool accents.” And while she hasn’t exactly grown fond of the “most massive insects I’ve ever seen,” Natascha feels as though living in Mobile and working at Rural Sourcing has truly given her the space to thrive. DISCOVER MORE

Oklahoma City Development Center Spotlight

Oklahoma City has seen a major tech resurgence in recent years, and our fifth development center is proud to be a part of it. With living costs as much as 40% lower than the national average and world-class workforce development programs, it’s no wonder that Oklahoma City has attracted some of the country’s best tech talent. We talked to our OKC colleagues to learn about what life is like in the Sooner State. Tech-focused environment Businesses in OKC are booming, and with a supportive environment for tech workers, this comes as no surprise. Rural Sourcing colleagues have attended many opportunities for networking and professional development in the tech space including Techlahoma, Infragard, and the OWASP Foundation. Our Development Center has also hosted State government officials, arts council members, and Oklahoma City Public Schools students. Taking in the sights Living in OKC means there’s plenty of opportunities for fun with your family and your colleagues, including visiting the Myriad Gardens Crystal Bridge, Bricktown and the Canal area, and the Oklahoma City Zoo. Past events at the Center have included a chili cook-off, cereal bar, scavenger hunts, and summer family nights. Putting clients first Just as Oklahoma City is becoming a place where many different industries are thriving, our OKC Development Center keeps growing with diverse and talented tech professionals. As one of our colleagues puts it, Clients working with our OKC Development Center receive the “Oklahoma Standard of Service”; ensuring client success is at the forefront of everything they do. Learn more about Oklahoma City by reading up on our featured OKC colleagues Joan and Mitch. DISCOVER MORE

The Company We Keep

 “Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” - Booker T. Washington I’ve never been shy about voicing my opinion when it comes to the importance of being a socially conscious company. Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” mantra may have been the corporate world’s adage in the 80’s and 90’s, but “good” looks a lot different now, and at Rural Sourcing we’re only as good as the people, companies, and communities we surround ourselves with. Mission first Our mission since Rural Sourcing was founded has always stayed the same: provide meaningful employment opportunities for marginalized communities by creating roles for software developers in mid-sized cities throughout Middle America, thereby closing the Digital Divide. By doing so, we provide a great value for our clients while our software developers enjoy the high quality of life they’ve come to expect by living outside of major tech centers like Silicon Valley. This mission went into overdrive when we received the support of Bain Capital’s Double Impact Fund. In good company Bain’s investment in Rural Sourcing is part of what they refer to as Double Bottom Line Investing (DBL2). In other words, there’s a focus on both the traditional bottom line of financial performance (there’s no mission without margin), but also an equal importance given to the positive social impact of a company. Other companies in the Double Impact portfolio include Broadstep, HealthDrive, Penn Foster, Rodeo Dental and Arosa. Whether it’s through affordable dental care for children living in low income communities, or affordable in-home care for the elderly, or accessible online education for any socio-economic demographic, the Double Impact companies all have one thing in common: they’re doing well by doing good. I encourage you to take a look at Bain Capital Double Impact’s Year in Review and see why we’re proud to associate ourselves with a group that takes giving back as seriously as they do their bottom line and why we believe in “No greatness without goodness.” DISCOVER MORE

Albuquerque Development Center Spotlight

Known for its beautiful scenery, Spanish history, and the International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque is home to our fourth development center and nearly 200 of our colleagues. Development Center Director Margret Bailey shares what makes ABQ so special. Always learning The culture in our Albuquerque Development Center is “a crucible for leaders of all varieties,” and personal accountability combined with the Rural Sourcing focus on teamwork, collaboration, and collegiality produce an ownership approach to everything, “which is fantastic if you want a center full of smart, confident trust-but-questioners,” says Margret. In ABQ, everyone is encouraged to be themselves wholeheartedly, whether that’s by drawing comics, 3D modeling and printing, or sharing your passion for neurolinguistic programming. All of our colleagues truly enjoy learning from each other, which facilitated the creation of the Maker Space, where colleagues lead workshops including acrylic painting and tie-dying. Senior Consultant Mark Winchell even taught the center how to build a functional camp stove from aluminum cans! Trick or treat Without a doubt, the most popular center holiday is Halloween (in fact, it sometimes involves a month of activities!) Horror movie lunch trivia, costume contests, and pumpkin decorating rounded out last year’s spooky season celebrations. ABQ also loves a little healthy competition, especially against colleagues in other centers, and had a great showing in the firmwide lip sync competition this year.  Caring about the community Community engagement is important to everyone in ABQ, especially when it promotes STEM education. CodeClubs.org is a non-profit organization founded by Paul Perez, a Principal Consultant in ABQ, which partners with Girls Who Code and local schools to bring coding classes to kids ages 11-18. Senior Consultant Bresdin O’Malley is now the Executive Director of the organization, and the entire center loves to get involved either through teaching or spreading the word at local events. Margret shares, “The scale to which our colleagues devote themselves to these activities is impressive. I’m very proud of our center’s involvement with the community.” To learn more about Albuquerque, read up on our featured ABQ colleagues Abdul and Brandy.

Mobile Development Center Spotlight

Located on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, Mobile is home to our southernmost development center as well as nearly 200 of our colleagues. Development Center Director Trey Sparks tells us all about life in “The Port City.”  The home of Mardi Gras While many people associate Mardi Gras with the city of New Orleans, Mobile was actually the first city to observe the event all the way back in 1703. Mobile residents are very proud of their history, so the annual Mardi Gras celebration is simply a can’t-miss event (make sure to have a moon pie!) Another unique happening in Mobile is called the Jubilee. It’s a natural phenomenon where crab, shrimp, and other fish all swarm the shore at the same time in Mobile Bay. With such easy-to-catch seafood, it definitely draws a crowd. Development center fun Just like in Mobile Bay, food brings everyone together in our Mobile Development Center. What’s been the most popular event? “Anything that consists of food or beverages will most likely win every time: we’ve had events like the mimosa mingle, chili cookoff, and macaroni and cheese cookoff,” says Trey. Nerdlympics is another popular event because our colleagues love a little healthy competition. Colleagues coming together When it comes to what makes Mobile special, Trey says it’s the people. “Our colleagues are definitely the heart of our centers. They make it a point to ensure that there’s a strong culture of collaboration and inclusion, and they’re not afraid to speak out for the good of the group, or even for the benefit of one individual.” That’s why the Mobile center has such a deep involvement with the local community. In addition to working with the Ronald McDonald House and Angel Tree, through The Salvation Army, Rural Sourcing also holds a spot on the advisory board with the University of South Alabama. Trey says, “Even though we share many of the same values, it’s impossible to try to fit our colleagues into a mold when describing them. We really benefit from working with individuals from different backgrounds, experience levels, and personalities.” To learn more about Mobile, read about our featured MOB colleagues Nina, Savannah, and Jaforrest.

Jonesboro Development Center Spotlight

Jonesboro, Arkansas is the home of Rural Sourcing’s very first development center, established in 2004. We talked to Development Center Director Darrell Runyan to learn more about what it’s like to live, work, and play in “The Natural State.” The importance of giving back Community involvement is core to Rural Sourcing’s corporate ethos. There are many community engagement projects that Jonesboro colleagues have been proud to be a part of over the years, including efforts in the business and educational communities, as well as at non-profit organizations. Darrell himself is a frequent speaker at schools where he teaches about what it’s like to work in technology, and is also on Arkansas State University’s curriculum advisory board. Jennifer Rorex, the Human Resources Manager in JBR is a Goodwill Ambassador for the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce and is on the Home Selection Committee for Habitat for Humanity. The entire office has also enjoyed volunteering for the organization. Besides being a community of charitable people, Jonesboro is also a thriving agricultural and industrial center, and is home to large production facilities including Post, Unilever, Nestle, and NicePak. A family-like atmosphere Because of the Jonesboro center’s longer history, many of the colleagues in JBR have worked together for a very long time. This has created a family-like culture, where everyone knows each other and their families, and they enjoy spending time together at work, and out of the office. Darrell shares, “Colleagues here love to play games together and celebrate holidays, even random ones like ‘National Chocolate Cake Day.’ And even though our NERF guns haven’t been used as much recently, they’re still in the office. If it’s your birthday, watch out for the birthday NERF bullet!” Hometown pride In Jonesboro, you’re working with a team who truly loves what they’re doing, and brings a lot of passion to the table. Darrell says, “Many of our developers graduated from right here in the Northeast Arkansas area, and not only do they love what they do, but they love where they do it.”  To learn more about Jonesboro, take a look at our featured JBR colleague Rosemary.

Augusta Development Center Spotlight

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Augusta, Georgia?” As host of The Masters, the first major golf tournament of the season, Augusta is used to this upper-crust affiliation. The Garden City is still humble, though, and it’s home to our second center and more than 120 of our colleagues. We talked to Augusta Development Center Director Dr. Tony Robinson to learn all about it. Making an impact Our Augusta Development Center is heavily involved in the local and statewide business communities, through active involvement locally with the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce and Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, and statewide through Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan’s task force: Georgia Innovates/Rural Initiatives. Tony shares, “By serving on this task force, our center gets the chance to help cultivate opportunities for innovators, entrepreneurs, and small businesses throughout the state.”  Enjoying their downtime Wondering how our Augusta colleagues have fun? Look no further than the always popular Nerdlympics competition, where colleagues have invented a number of technology-themed games including Planning Putt Putt and Blocker Resolution and Cup Stacking. Tony says, “Whether you’re on a team or just watching the competition, it’s always fun to see the innovative ideas our colleagues come up with!” Plus, the variety of parks and recreation in Augusta, including the Savannah River, and numerous cultural events like Arts in the Heart of Augusta, the Westobou Festival, and the Greek Festival give everyone the chance to get outside and enjoy the great weather you tend to find Georgia. Supporting the community Community engagement is a big part of life at all of our centers, but in Augusta, it’s truly at the heart of everything they do. By working closely with educational partners like Augusta University, USC Aiken, and Augusta Technical College, our colleagues get involved with STEM-related activities like the Augusta University STEAMIFY Competition, where college students have gone on to compete and place in international competitions. Plus, through board leadership and classroom activities, our Augusta colleagues have been involved in technical programming curriculum development, and coaching engagements. To top it all off, the center was recently recognized with a philanthropy award based on the impact of their fundraising efforts for the United Way of the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). What’s one of Tony’s favorite parts about Augusta? “The diversity of the community and educational opportunities combined with all the great amenities we have, make this city a very special place to live and raise a family.” Learn more about Augusta by reading up on featured colleagues Samaiyah, Nick, and Richard.

Why Rural Sourcing is the Next Starbucks

Confession time: I’m a Starbucks fanatic. For me, the day hasn’t begun until I’ve had my triple grande nonfat cappuccino. In fact, the company's former CEO Howard Schultz is someone whose leadership and guidance I've always admired (I’m the proud owner of an autographed copy of his book: Onward.) It was Schultz’s idea to create a third place to have coffee: a place that wasn’t your home or office. This vision created a new alternative at a scale that didn’t previously exist. The Rural Sourcing business model follows the same concept. Up until recently, businesses had two options for their IT workforce strategy. Businesses could bring in the talent to their office in their city, often at expensive hourly rates, or they could offshore the work to an outsourcing firm for less expensive hourly rates and figure out how to manage the cultural, security, IP, and time zone challenges. At Rural Sourcing, we saw the need to create that third option at scale. [caption id="attachment_11219" align="aligncenter" width="600"]  [/caption] Small cities, big opportunities Onshore domestic technology talent is abundant in smaller cities such as Albuquerque, NM; Oklahoma City, OK; or Mobile, AL. These cities, complete with large universities, low cost of living and high quality of life, represent millions of available technology talent waiting to be deployed to solve software problems for the world’s greatest companies located in much higher cost locations. Rural Sourcing selects cities like these based on our proprietary data analysis of the qualified talent pool, the quality of life and the affordability of living in these locations. We then establish software development centers complete with the look and feel of a “Google-esque” environment, where software developers and quality engineers can focus on creating applications to support our clients on their digital journeys. The beauty of this third option, unlike Starbucks, is that it actually costs less than the other available options. With a substantially reduced cost of living in these smaller cities, the dollar goes a lot further than in San Francisco, New York, or even Atlanta. Also, when measured against offshore, domestic sourcing is more cost-effective when evaluated by the total cost of ownership (TCO) of completing a successful project in today’s agile software development world. The right blend I’m not saying that businesses shouldn’t consume the available talent within their own cities or even offshore, as both have their respective roles to play in the sourcing strategy. What I am saying, however, is that there’s a new coffee shop available that serves a remarkable third alternative that may just taste better than your traditional sources. Find out more about our unique blend of services here. NEED HELP? LET'S TALK.