For companies like Exeter, long string
of appearances reflects ideal fit with race
BOSTON, June 25, 2012 — When the 18th straight capacity crowd approaches the starting line on July 12 for the 2012 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Boston, among the energized throng will be a team from Exeter Group, Inc. For Exeter, it will continue a string of consecutive appearances that has extended into its second decade.
"We feel it is a great way to stay healthy, socialize and give back to charities in one fell swoop," said Pam Tarro, company captain and Exeter's Director of Recruiting. "I think the (7:15 p.m.) race time during the week really allows our folks to take advantage of it. It's a nice way to get the team together without a big time commitment."
As Tarro suggests, the Corporate Challenge is a great fit for Exeter. The reasons for that may reach all the way to the heart of the company culture at Exeter.
"This event helps promote work/life balance, but also continues to allow all levels of the organization to engage with each other, which is in line with Exeter's overall culture," says Pam Tarro, who has organized Exeter's Corporate Challenge teams for years.
An IT consulting firm headquartered in Cambridge at One Canal Park, Exeter has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington and Bangalore, India. Exeter consults with clients to help them realize business value by leveraging technology. That type of business mission not only requires the recruitment of a tech-savvy, personable, and flexible workforce, it also demands a culture that, as Exeter points out on its website, is "heavily focused on teamwork."
Which makes the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge® — an event that requires individuals enter as part of a company team and then encourages camaraderie to extend far beyond the 3.5 miles of the team road race — ideal for Exeter, as well as the other 628 other companies that have entered this year's 29th running of the event in Boston's Back Bay.
Not that Tarro or Exeter needs much encouragement to have some team-bonding fun out of the office.
"We have an annual company sponsored party (the day of the race) since we have a large team together already," she said. "Even non-runners are invited to attend. I have hosted the pre- and post-race gathering at my place in Beacon Hill every year. Cold beverages, beer and air conditioning after the race are all key elements to keeping the energy level up after the race."
Tarro says she and at least two other members of Exeter's senior management team will be participating in this year's Corporate Challenge. The company also sponsored a race-day T-shirt design competition, as well as the registration and gathering after the run. That is no accident.
"We (senior management) feel it is important to engage socially, professionally and personally with our employees," Tarro said. "This event helps promote work/life balance, but also continues to allow all levels of the organization to engage with each other, which is in line with Exeter's overall culture."
So, Tarro, who has helped organize Exeter's team and race-day party for years, has put together another squad and celebration this year. Given the demand for spots in the perennially sold-out race and the limitations put on entries, it is not the easiest of tasks.
"I think the biggest challenge is making changes to the team roster once registration closes," she said. "Depending on travel schedules and client commitments, we need more flexibility than the current process allows. This year, for example, I have five runners who no longer have a travel commitment issue for client reasons but registration is closed. We are a consulting firm so client meetings always come first."
One year, she said, the challenging entry situation in Boston led to a last-minute entrant subbing for one of the team's 11-minute milers, who could not run.
"(The sub) came in 22nd in the whole darn thing," said a surprised Tarro. "We were amazed at how fast he ran and then we got to call his peer to congratulate him as well on his strong finish."
No doubt, even though it was unintended, that unexpected bit of fun also helped promote the team-building spirit at Exeter.