The Washington Post

At Dimension Data, CFO stands for ‘chief fun officer’

Company: Dimension Data Americas.

Location: Herndon, Reston and Centreville.

Employees: 150 locally; 15,000 globally.

Jaime Ellis is the CFO at Dimension Data Americas’ Herndon office, but she’s not the company’s top financial executive.

Instead, Ellis is the “chief fun officer” at the global technology services firm’s local outpost, a role that means she is responsible for facilitating social engagement among her peers.

“We’re just trying to create a stronger sense of community in our workplace,” Ellis said.

Ellis’s primary job at Dimension Data is as a marketing and communications specialist; she and another co-worker split the “chief fun officer” duties. With a small budget from their employer, they organize quarterly activities for the staff that they hope will build camaraderie and lead to better collaboration in the workplace.

Recently, they organized an outing for a few dozen employees to attend a Washington Nationals game. Participants were given two tickets for themselves and a guest, as well money to pay for snacks.

Other past events have included potlucks, luncheons and a take your child to work day. When the children visited the office, the money was used to buy supplies so the young guests could do a craft project.

As a result of these events, Dimension Data said it has seen a difference in its workforce.

“We see happier employees, we see more-connected employees,” said Jackie Funk, vice president of marketing.

Sometimes the dollars have been diverted for a cause. After Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast last year, Ellis said the Herndon office decided to put some of its social budget toward the relief efforts. As a result, they had a scaled-back holiday party, holding it at the office instead of at an another venue. Many Dimension Data offices across the country chose to use their money the same way, an effort that resulted in a $17,260 donation to the American Red Cross.

Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post's national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economic news.
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