Michelle Cirocco is head of global marketing for Televerde, a company focusing on business-to-business demand generation and inside sales solutions.
Televerde staffs a portion of its contact centers with incarcerated women, providing them with training and helping them find career opportunities after their release.
In this exclusive interview, Cirocco explains how everyone wins when a company provides employees with the opportunity to turn their lives around.
Michelle Cirocco:Televerde is the global leader in market insight. Our mission is to provide opportunities for our clients to grow their businesses and achieve their personal best.
We"re a B2B sales and marketing agency, and we generate demand and accelerate sales for our clients. Our clients are the largest technology companies in the world, as well as startup, high-tech, high-growth companies. Ninety-eight percent of our customers are in the high-tech space.
We"re a true extension of our clients" sales and marketing organizations, and we"re consistently delivering measurable value for our customers.
Our company was founded with the idea of providing job opportunities for women in corrections. Our CEO came with a technical background, and when he came to Televerde, he found the answer to what sales, marketing and technology companies needed.
Sales reps needed good-quality leads, and he believed he could teach women in corrections all the skills they needed to enter the technical sales field. He built the business on this idea of providing job opportunities.
We"ve had over 1,700 women work for us inside correctional facilities in Arizona and Indiana, and we"ve expanded the business outside of corrections to provide jobs when they"re released and want to build real careers.
TNW: Could you describe the trajectory of your career. How did you get where you are today? Cirocco:
Cirocco:My real business career started with Televerde, and I"ve been with the company for almost 20 years. When you have the opportunity to work with a company with such an amazing social purpose, it makes it easy to fall in love and be committed to the mission of the company.
That"s also part of what the company is about -- investing in individuals and helping to achieve their personal best. I started in an entry-level position in project management and account management, and my career has been a procession of increasing responsibility within the company, from sales to sales operations to marketing.
As my responsibilities increased, so did my education. When I started, I had an associate"s degree, and then I got my bachelor"s in marketing and finally an MBA. It"s been a commitment to lifelong learning.
TNW: Why do you have a passion for what you do? Cirocco:
Cirocco:I have a passion for what Televerde does. When you have the opportunity to work with people to recreate themselves and build a meaningful career for themselves and their families, and you get to watch and help that happen, it"s very rewarding.
It enables me to have my arms around the brand and, promoting Televerde so that it becomes a bigger organization that can provide more jobs and more opportunities for women. The bigger this company gets, the more women and families we can help.
TNW: What does it mean to use technology to accentuate the human connection? And why is it important? Cirocco:
Cirocco:The thing about technology is that we"re a human-touch organization. We"re people people. Everybody"s using technologies like artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, marketing automation tools, search engine marketing and lead analytics tools.
We"re using all these tools and technologies to identify who we should communicate with, and we use them to set the stage for our marketing and demand-generation efforts, and to get our names or clients" names in front of their prospects.
Ultimately, though, our real goal is to build relationships. At the end of the day, people buy from people. Technology is a tool for us to enable trust and build relationships.
TNW: What kind of work do the women do? Cirocco:
Cirocco:A large portion of the work involves contact centers, lead development and inside sales. But we have people in a wide variety of roles outside of those, including project management, technical reporting, IT work and QA testing.
We have women certified in marketing automation tools who are designing and setting up our marketing automation campaigns. We have folks in our finance department doing financial reporting and analysis. I have my marketing and communications team that"s responsible for writing content and graphic design.
Our own inside sales and sales development is also a job opportunity for women. They all have career paths at our corporate office when they get out, and many have career paths to go work for our clients.
TNW: Why do you think it"s a good idea to work with people in correctional facilities? Cirocco:
Cirocco:They"re a highly motivated, committed workforce. They"re women who went left when they should have gone right, and they"re at the lowest point in their lives. Every single one wants to have a better life.
They"re all willing to work hard at whatever will enable them to have a better life, to get their children and families back. It"s a workforce of people who are in love with their jobs. These are people who truly love what they"re doing, because they have the time and focus and ability to commit to it.
They"re in an environment that encourages them to be naturally supportive of each other to be more successful. Because of this environment, we have the highest-quality call centers in the world. Our clients buy from us because we"re the best at what we do, and that"s because we have a phenomenal workforce.
TNW: Is Televerde"s mission being adopted by other companies? Cirocco:
Cirocco:Most states have correctional industries responsible for jobs within the community or within the government, providing work opportunities for inmates. While people are incarcerated, they"re required to have a job, unless they"re medically exempted.
Many companies are using this kind of workforce, but we"re one of the biggest employers. We"re also one of the few employers developing knowledge workers.
Most correction industry job opportunities tend to be vocational and blue collar, but our employees are truly knowledge workers, in fields like sales and technology. We offer more than just job opportunities. These are career opportunities.
Vivian Wagner has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. Her main areas of focus are technology, business, CRM, e-commerce, privacy, security, arts, culture and diversity. She has extensive experience reporting on business and technology for a variety
of outlets, including The Atlantic, The Establishment and O, The Oprah Magazine. She holds a PhD in English with a specialty in modern American literature and culture. She received a first-place feature reporting award from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists.