About Us

Engage2Excel takes employee
engagement and recognition to new heights.

America’s oldest employee recognition company is now called Engage2Excel.

TharpeRobbins was founded in 1892, when mechanization and mass production fueled rapid growth for companies that answered consumer demand for abundant and affordable products. For 125 years, we have been a pioneer in helping America’s leading brands find new ways to recognize exceptional employee performance.

Now, as Engage2Excel, we provide Engagement Surveys, ROI-based Recognition Programs, Performance Analytics and Talent Acquisition solutions that enable companies to improve employee engagement to drive bottom-line business results.

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What We Do

We help companies increase employee engagement to achieve higher levels of performance by:

  • MEASURING and analyzing employee engagement
  • MANAGING total recognition programs, and
  • IMPROVING the results from engagement program investment through prescriptive analytics
  • INFUSING highly engaged employees into your corporate culture


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Management Team

Phil Stewart

CEO

Phil Stewart, CEO, joined Engage2Excel in 2015. Phil is responsible for leading and growing all aspects of the business including sales, marketing, quality, operations, technology and administration. He brings 20 years of human resource experience to the position and spent the last eight years at IBM/Kenexa, first as Chief People Officer and then as President of Kenexa’s Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) business unit since 2007.  Prior to Kenexa, his roles included various human resource leadership positions at Dentsply International and Sara Lee Corporation.  He holds a MS in Human Resources from Warren National University and a BSBA in Management from Western Carolina University.

My favorite recognition moment: “I was part of a manufacturing leadership team with a facility that operated 24 hours a day. In an effort to meet all the employees, I scheduled several meetings with all shifts. During one of those shifts, I had a wonderful conversation with a front-line worker named Ron. He had some great suggestions for increasing operational efficiency. After that discussion, I thanked Ron for the ideas and sent him a Spot card that recognized his courage and insight.  The next day he came to thank me, but I wasn’t expecting what happened next; I saw tears in his eyes. I learned it was the first time a manager came to meet and speak with the 3rd shift employees and the first time he received recognition. At that moment, I saw the positive impact of a good recognition experience.  A couple years later I was thrilled to be there for his promotion to a management position, and share that story.”

Joel Kepley

Chief Financial Officer, CPA

Joel Kepley, Chief Financial Officer, CPA, is responsible for managing and directing the accounting, financial reporting, and treasury and risk management functions of the company. Prior roles include Chief Financial Officer of Beacon Industrial Manufacturing and Controller at Pneumafil Corp. Joel holds an MBA from Queens College and a B.S. in accounting from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Darren Findley

President, Recruitment Solutions

Darren Findley is a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) industry veteran. He brings over thirty-two years of recruiting and staffing solutions experience to Engage2Excel, where he leads the recruitment solutions team, powered by Decision Toolbox. Darren most recently worked at AMN Healthcare, as vice president and general manager of RPO. Prior roles included vice president and managing director of recruitment solutions at IBM/Kenexa, where he led recruitment-outsourcing programs for clients, including UnitedHealth Group, US Steel, Flowserve, Allstate Insurance, Express Scripts and Sprint PCS. He holds a BBA from Harding University.

My favorite recognition moment: My favorite recognition moment occurred when Phil sent my wife a gift card thanking her for supporting me and the intense travel I had been doing for a period of time. The fact that he acknowledged the extra travel and sent the note to her was more impactful to us as a family than anything he would have done for me individually. It demonstrated for me that when your leader understands your contributions and then expresses appreciation for it…it drives engagement. Now she brags about “her note and her gift” all the time to our friends and family.

Neal Cao

Chief Information Officer/Senior Vice President

Neal Cao, Chief Information Officer/Senior Vice President, has a long history with the company. He oversees Engage2Excel’s in-house IT staff, who are committed to providing simple, innovative technical solutions that make program implementation and administration easier. Neal joined Engage2Excel from Akibia, where he was Director of Applications Development. Before that, Neal was the applications and systems architect and the Microsoft technical lead for The Robbins Company. Prior roles include Chief Technology Officer and numerous consulting and programming positions.

Brett Tharpe

Chief Customer Officer

Brett Tharpe, Chief Customer Officer, knows the incentive business inside and out. He is responsible for sales growth and building strong business relationships with our clients. Brett’s focus is to ensure that our customers continue to experience the world-class service they have come to expect from Engage2Excel. He served the last 10 years as CEO for Engage2Excel. His prior roles include Area Manager of Unicon Concrete’s Grand Strand division. Brett received a B.A. in business management from North Carolina State University and executive management education from the Young Executives Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School.

My favorite recognition moment: “I remember two twin sisters who received their 70-year service award from a textile manufacturer in South Carolina. These ladies started working at the plant when they were 8 years old (obviously before there were any labor laws) and had worked side by side at their workstations the entire time! They had no intentions of retiring, either! They told us they still enjoyed working and that it was keeping them healthy!

Jack Wiley, Ph. D

Chief Scientific Officer

Jack joined Engage2Excel in 2015 and brings over three decades of organizational research and consulting. His groundbreaking research led him to co-authoring the highly regarded book, RESPECT: Delivering Results by Giving Employees What They Really Want. Sharing his insights and knowledge, he educates clients on the importance of employee engagement and how to leverage key drivers that build high-performance organizations. In May 2014, Jack was awarded the Distinguished Professional Practice Contributions Award, given in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the practice of industrial-organizational psychology. Jack is a licensed Psychologist (LP, State of Minnesota) and holds the SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) accreditation. Along with his position at Engage2Excel, Jack is a Professor of Psychology at Manchester University.

Emily Gatton

Vice President of Solutions

Emily Gatton, Vice President of Solutions, leads the program design team for client implementations. She builds on her strong background of solution design and implementation to create programs that drive engagement and support our client’s strategic business objectives. Emily joined Engage2Excel in 2006 where she guided client implementations and training of our engagement platform. In 2010, she began supporting the sales team during the RFP process, client presentations and managing solution design. She holds a BA in Psychology from Furman University.

Gail Lunghi

Vice President of Merchandising

Gail Lunghi, Vice President of Merchandising, and her team are responsible for ensuring that Engage2Excel has the right product offering with the right mix at the right value — for employers and their recipients. Gail’s team takes a disciplined, research-based approach to merchandising, so employers understand what recipients are looking for in terms of products, categories and brands. Another key focus is maintaining strong relationships with existing vendors and developing new ones, both domestically and globally. Prior roles include Director of Merchandising, Director of Product Development and Director of Marketing. She received her MBA in marketing/CIS from Bryant University and B.S. in marketing from Rhode Island College.

Jeff Gelinas

Vice President of People and Product

Jeff Gelinas, Vice President of People and Product, brings his strong leadership and product management skills to Engage2Excel. Jeff’s deep background in HR and staffing gives him the best vantage point to drive our product strategy and roadmap.

Prior to joining Engage2Excel, Jeff was the Talent Acquisition Product Management Leader at IBM and was responsible for the product development of IBM/Kenexa’s talent acquisition solutions, including BrassRing, a leader in applicant tracking systems. At Kenexa, Jeff spent several years leading global HR and staffing teams. He holds an MBA from Boston University, School of Management and a B.A. from Tufts University.

My favorite recognition moment: “Several years ago I led an internal recruitment team at Kenexa, now IBM. One recruiter on my team, Marta, was a very high performer. She embodied our culture, recruited great talent, and always met or exceeded her recruitment goals. Given the tough economic times, I was not able to reward Marta in the way that I would have liked. However, one quarter I was able to recognize her in front of the company and give her a gift card as a token of my appreciation. Marta was beyond appreciative and then proceeded to tell me exactly how that gift certificate would benefit her youngest child in preparation for a family vacation to Disneyland. I am a firm believer that business is personal, and I’ll never underestimate the impact that a manager can have at the right moment in time.”

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