Gimbala Sankare is director of diversity and young career talent at WEX, a company that creates payment solutions for companies, specializing in fleet, corporate payments and healthcare.
WEX has 4,500 employees worldwide, including more than 400 who work out of its new headquarters in Portland and 1,000 at its South Portland office. It is always on the lookout for talent. Sankare sat down with Mainebiz to discuss the workforce and hiring efforts at WEX. An edited transcript follows.
Mainebiz: What influenced WEX to choose Portland over New York or Boston for its global corporate headquarters?
Gimbala Sankare: WEX is a Maine institution. Our culture and who we are as a company is all about Maine. This place allows us to showcase — not just to the country but to the world — that you can be a global company and be in this state. It’s a symbiotic relationship that’s positive for both parties.
MB: How are you planning to attract young workers to WEX?
GS: There are certain things they’re looking for in a position: The culture. Do they have an opportunity to grow? Is the company involved in the community? All of that, we do. That’s not our only focus. We live in the oldest state in the country, so we create a culture for seniors who live in Maine to have an opportunity to join our company and add value through the experiences they’ve acquired throughout the years.
MB: What are WEX’s long-term plans to retain employees?
GS: If I’m any young person who’s looking for a long term placement in a company, why wouldn’t I want to be with a company that’s in the growth stage? Because with growth comes opportunities. If you can create a culture that is all-inclusive, diverse, transparent, authentic, with benefits and the right balance of work and being able to enjoy life, folks will want to stay.
MB: Where do you typically recruit talent?
GS: For the early career talent, we work with college campuses, we’re involved in networking sessions in our community, recruiting from job sites, networking events and word of mouth. We have a WEX alumni networking program where we look at folks who have affiliation with Maine, who have been at WEX before and left on good terms, interns that were in our program. All those populations we keep an eye on.
MB: What does WEX have that attracts younger talent over other competing companies?
GS: The whole point of joining this organization that is everyone adds value from Day 1, from interns to our senior executives. You can be whoever you want to be here at WEX, and there is an openness and acceptance of that.
MB: What are the top three attributes you look for in a potential young recruit?
GS: Thinking big, adaptability to change and fitting our values.
MB: The position of director of diversity and young career talent seems like a unique and innovative role. How did this role get created, and for what purpose?
GS: We began to see and hear from our employees that they want our workplace to be more diverse and inclusive. We’re not quite there yet — that will take us about two years. Right now, we are establishing a foundation of where we need to be. Because without equity, you would not see your ideas respected. We want everyone to feel like they have a voice.
MB: What is your vision for the company?
GS: We aspire to be recognized as a world-class organization in diversity and inclusion, in talent attraction and development, and in all HR functions.
MB: What about that is meaningful to you?
GS: At the base of all of it is people. That is more meaningful to me than anything else, because without the people of the organization and if you’re not taking care of them, no one is going anywhere, the company is not going to grow.
Julia Bisson is a 2019 graduate of Greely High School in Cumberland who will be attending Bates College this fall. For two weeks in May, as part of the school’s career exploration program, she job-shadowed Mainebiz digital editor James McCarthy and Portland Press Herald staff writer Bob Keyes.