The success of entrepreneurial leaders is measured in many ways, but two things distinguish the good from the truly great. First, are they able to dramatically scale their company and lead it towards a successful exit. Second, can they see beyond their own businesses to make a significant contribution to the community, however large the borders of that community may be.
Though Central Florida is fortunate in the number of leaders who demonstrate the passion and dexterity to pursue both these goals, few have been as successful as Harold Mills. One of the founders of ZeroChaos, Mills served as CEO until December, 2015. The Orlando-based staffing and strategic management company grew under Mills’ leadership to realize over $3 billion in annual revenue, with some 800 employees managing 100,000 workers in 45 countries. After a sizeable acquisition by Snow Phipps in 2011, Mills has continued involvement as an owner and vice chairman of the board, helping to facilitate the next phase of the company’s future.
ZeroChaos flourished during one of the most challenging periods in recent economic history through perseverance, innovation and a knack for building trust relationships. “We started off small and proved ourselves; then those companies became a great customer reference, which opened doors to others,” he said. Sensitive to the staffing challenges his clients were experiencing around the globe, Mills decided to branch his company by adding operations in northern Europe, China and India. The desire for job flexibility among baby boomers, and control and autonomy for millennials, is positioning ZeroChaos for continued growth.
As significant as his achievements at ZeroChaos, Mills’ influence stretches across the city, the state and the nation. He served on the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Jacksonville Branch, which advises the Fed on monetary policy, bank supervision, regulation and interest rates. He is also on the Board of Directors of Guidewell, a family of companies helping people and communities achieve better health and revitalize the health care industry including Florida Blue.
As chair of the United Way, Mills worked tirelessly to champion job awareness and training, along with the significance that the smallest efforts can sometimes make the greatest impressions.
By deploying passion for others along with honed entrepreneurial skills, his biggest impact likely will be his leadership role in Lift Orlando. The project, led by twelve business leaders, including CNL’s Tom Sittema and Florida Citrus Sports’ Steve Hogan, is focused on bringing community-led and community-empowered transformation to the disenfranchised Parramore neighborhood near downtown Orlando. Working to address the spectrum of challenges that produce systemic poverty, Lift Orlando is focused on job readiness and economic development, housing, health and wellness, and education.
Mills accepted the challenge of bringing economic viability to the community. This includes recruiting businesses to the area, which in turn provides employment and employee advancement, job awareness and vocational training. “Our goal is to achieve 100 percent employment in this community, with livable wages and to build entrepreneurs within the neighborhood, from startup ventures, to lifestyle businesses or scalable enterprises. This is a ten to twenty-year project, and our vision is pretty audacious, but it is happening,” he concluded.