C-SPARK: CEO-led Workforce Education for the AGE of AND

The definitive blueprint for the first-ever, CEO-led strategic approach to workforce education. Discover how to seize the opportunity to generate revenue, ensure business agility, recruit and retain the best talent, advance diversity, equity and inclusion, promote authentic corporate citizenship and create industry-leading brands.

From the foreword by Meg Whitman

Meg Whitman

United States Ambassador to Kenya and former CEO, eBay, Hewlett-Packard and HPE

“America’s future and way of life depends on an educated workforce. It depends on people being able to read and write and think critically and listen to different points of view and discern the truth. As you probably know first-hand, we have an education system that isn’t delivering all of that to all of our people.

It is now up to CEOs like you and companies like yours to pick up the mantle of those institutions and become a vital link in the lives of your people and your community. In C-Spark, Vivek gives you the path you need to make it happen. It’s a path poised to equip you to change lives, grow your company and make an impact that will ensure a lasting, memorable legacy.”

Praise for C-Spark

George Barrett

Former Chairman and CEO, Cardinal Health

“C-Spark lays out a workforce education strategy that embraces continuous learning and fosters opportunities for growth, with far-reaching benefits for individuals, participating companies, and beyond. When leaders commit to strategic workforce education, they expand individuals’ capacities to grow and better prepare them to drive the organization’s mission. This not only propels the organization and its people, but helps advance our economy overall, as employees develop new skills they can apply to better our neighborhoods and communities.”

“The future will be seized by CEOs who see the genius of the AND and not the tyranny of the OR. For CEOs who see their employees as an asset to invest in, C-Spark provides a practical toolkit to strategically use workforce education for their organization’s needs, both for today AND for the future.”

Greg Creed

Former CEO, Yum! Brands

Lynne Doughtie

Former Chair and CEO, KPMG

“People want to do their best for an organization when they feel that the leaders of the business care for them.”

“C-Spark champions the idea that a CEO’s future workforce can be found within their own organization. The U.S. military successfully employs this idea every year with thousands of military personnel being educated and trained in new skills. Corporate America and stalwart CEOs now have the chance to do the same, thanks to the availability of high-quality workforce education. Even the military could benefit from the ideas discussed in this book.”

Eric Fanning

Former Secretary of the U.S. Army 
President & CEO, Aerospace Industries Association

Robin Hayes

CEO, JetBlue Airways

“Corporate boards and C-suite executives are discovering that what makes a great company is being completely redefined. The decades-old stakeholder model is being transformed at a head-spinning pace by a values-driven societal expectation of change. The ‘Age of And’ is here and C-Spark offers a path to navigate these choppy waters and ensure your employees are truly part of these history-making changes.”

“There is a group of companies that has not yet felt enough market pressure to make strategic investments in their people, and there is a second group that hasn’t elevated it to the level of the CEO. In both of these cases, they share a commonality — they are laggards in their respective competitive landscapes.”

David Hoverman

Bain & Company

Debra Lee

Former CEO, BET Networks

“Being born the same year as Brown v. Board of Education, I was raised to work for the best education possible and then give back to my community. As one of the few Black female CEOs, I made sure my employees were coached, educated and promoted. C-Spark is the codification of what I inherently knew was important — education — with Corporate America being an important ally in that goal. Every CEO should read this book and incorporate its tenets into their business in order to keep the ‘AND’ in our ever-changing global landscape.”

“The best thing a CEO can do to drive their business forward is to train their workforce, give their people the skills that they’ll need now and for the future.”

Ray Mabus

Former Secretary of the U.S. Navy

Teri McClure

Former General Counsel, CHRO and VP of Labor Relations and Communications, UPS

“The C-Spark for effective strategic workforce education must come from the top. Buy-in from the board and CEO, and alignment to their development, compensation and success matrix is key.”

“As a lifelong learner myself, I appreciate the value higher education brings to our company growth, employee morale and ability to meaningfully impact our employees’ lives and futures.”

Jeff Meshey

President and CEO, Desert Financial Credit Union

Amy Miles

Former Chair and CEO, Regal Entertainment

“Every corporation is trying to figure out how to be successful in diversity, equity and inclusion. Workforce education strategically applied toward DE&I is a real answer — one that holds the promise of retention and promotion.”

“Most conventional workforce education programs I have seen have been generic in form and thus, mediocre at best. We should instead aim for specialized programs that develop skills tailored to specific needs a given company has.”

Chuck Rubin

Former Chair and CEO, Michaels Companies, Inc.

Brad Smith

President, Marshall University

“Some leaders see workforce education as an expense, when in fact it’s an investment. You can’t do anything for customers without great employees.”

“When you invest in the development of your people and support their success, their connection and loyalty to the organization increases exponentially.”

Tom Staggs

Former COO, The Walt Disney Company

Ron Sugar

Former CEO, Northrop Grumman

“Successful leaders who have embraced the concept of strategic workforce education appreciate the power of their people to drive corporate growth. C-Spark challenges every CEO to make a commitment to ongoing education of their employees — and by doing so, reap the rewards of their increased engagement.”

“C-Spark is truly an ignition guidepost that captures the best of leadership and workforce engagement — starting with C-Suite recognition and commitment. Through new and enduring engagement practices, C-Spark reinforces the principle that human capital is the foundation of successful companies. If you are an “Employee First” leader, this book is a must read! You’ll refer back to it often for insights and wisdom.”

Maggie Wilderotter

CEO, Grand Reserve Inn

C-Spark in the news

July 22, 2021

Attracting and finding talent is one of the biggest challenges facing small and medium sized businesses in 2021. Join us for a conversation with Vivek Sharma, CEO and Co-founder of InStride, to learn how businesses today are creating new frameworks for employee training and education that are driving recruitment and retention.

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