As founder of Prokanga, the innovative recruiting firm that connects companies with experienced, flexible marketing and finance expertise, Jamie Cheney (MBA 2007) understands the value of a fluid workforce. Together with Annie Davis (MBA 2007) and partner Lesley Finer, the Prokanga team is addressing today’s evolving workplace flexibility trend—offering high-caliber talent solutions that benefit employees, businesses, and the environment.

“The fact is, flexibility is there whether or not your company is actively embracing it,” says Cheney. “People are more open to talking about it now. Employers will come to us and say, ‘we’ve gotten the impression that we need to get our arms around this in some way. Our competitors are doing it.’”

Prokanga’s unique recruiting focus encourages employers to consider flexibility as part of the compensation package in order to help them access a higher level of talent within their budget. The firm is simultaneously mobilizing a part of the workforce—those with a need or a desire for flexible arrangements due to childcare responsibilities or other factors—that might otherwise be left on the economy’s sidelines.

Flexibility Powers Social Impact

As mothers themselves, Cheney and Davis both realize the value of flexible work situations. After years of national and international travel in their former careers, the former classmates began to craft more sustainable careers around family and parenting needs. Cheney founded Prokanga in 2013, and, as Davis started considering more flexible work options in 2018, she and Cheney discussed where and how she might be able to work with Prokanga to address the social impact space.

“It never occurred to me to work in human capital during business school, or how vital it was to the success of a business,” said Davis. “I developed this passion for high-level talent over the course of my own career. I saw an intersection with Prokanga, considering my operating background leading business development for socially and environmentally responsible businesses.”

Cheney says of her colleague: “Annie brings pure credibility. She has a career built on this. Authenticity is really important in the social impact world because so many companies are just now trying to capitalize on the space as it becomes ‘hot’.”

As Managing Director of Social Impact at Prokanga, Davis both educates businesses on remote working protocol to minimize the impact of commuting on the environment and matches candidates with the appropriate mission-driven organizations.

“The caliber of talent is crucial, but mission alignment is just as important for the organization,” says Davis. “I evaluate candidates not only for their skills, but also through the missions to make sure that are a good fit.”

Business-Backed Recruiting

Prokanga brings a deep talent bench that includes many HBS alumni. Whether a company is a complex hedge fund, marketing agency startup, or consumer goods client, the Prokanga team can consistently place top talent with contract, part-time, and full-time opportunities that span a wide range of verticals.

“Our clients are best served coming to us with a business problem and not a fully formed job description,” says Cheney. “We are only retained recruiters. People pay us to be a strategic partner in defining the recruiting need and then to execute the search. We offer a strategic business service, not just a recruiting service.”

After nearly six successful years in business, Cheney, Finer, and Davis at Prokanga maintain two strong practices with approximately 60 percent of their placements on the finance side and 40 percent on the marketing side. Aspirations for company growth lie in their ability to identify new niches, or industry verticals, and staff appropriately.

“I want to see us grow in a vertical-based model,” says Cheney. “I’d love to hire at least one to two people per year to own verticals and grow them entrepreneurially within the Prokanga platform.”

As Prokanga continues to capitalize on emerging verticals, its success is sure to multiply in today’s constantly evolving, ever empowering, flexibility-fueled work culture.