Rich Campillo spent his 24-year corporate career with Nestlé S.A. traveling the world living and working as an executive throughout the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, Latin America and Asia.
He established the company’s first regional cereal businesses in Asia, the first regional food service business in Latin America, as well as serving as president of Nestlé Canada’s Ice Cream Division and vice president of the Global Ice Cream Strategic Business Unit in Switzerland.
In his “retirement” he is now sharing his passion for others and his business acumen with the South Florida community.
1. Of all of the places you could retire, what drew you to South Florida and Fort Lauderdale, in particular?
As an expatriate, you return to your country of origin every year to stay connected. We returned to Florida and New York to visit parents, and ultimately the sunshine beat out the big city for our next adventure. Besides the weather and family, Fort Lauderdale has a diverse social and business environment that allows me to find meaningful ways to leverage my experience.
2. After a very successful corporate career, you are now dedicating your time to helping others. Was that always your plan when you “retired?”
Like many people, I did not have a plan for retirement but knew that I wanted to use my varied experiences. At first, that came in the way of helping several Swiss start-up entrepreneurs refine their ideas and go-to market strategies. When we returned to the U.S., I focused on giving back to the community, which I was not able to do while working and moving every three years. I wanted to focus on causes that I could impact in my lifetime and came across the issue of the homeless, which also led to an interest at the other end of the spectrum… early learning education.
3. What business skills do you apply to your philanthropic efforts to help you achieve results for the people and causes you support?
I focus on defining and aligning where you are going, what others are doing that is similar and create a plan to accomplish your goals. In order to succeed when you are not a subject matter expert, you need to be driven by curiosity and a willingness to tackle the unknown. I have taken this approach every time I moved into a new leadership role.
Be curious, ask a lot of questions of a lot of people and actively listen to their responses. Simplify the complex to create a working vision. Identify the right people to deliver that goal and set targets. Lastly, have the discipline to review and adapt plans to meet the vision and goals. If you do this with honesty and sincerity, people will engage with you and together you will get amazing results.
4. Why did helping the homeless speak to you, and what particular areas have you been focusing on to help?
When I was in Switzerland, I read an article about a 90-year-old chef who was arrested at Fort Lauderdale beach for feeding the homeless. It sparked my interest as this was the place I was going to call home. When I arrived, I was fortunate to meet two individuals at Saint Anthony Catholic Church Homeless Ministry who shared with me their insights into the homeless situation in Broward County. As a result of their unselfish giving, I started to get involved.
I co-founded a mobile shower organization that now has three mobile shower units across Miami, Broward and Palm Beach counties, a project that gives glasses to the homeless every month and a project to secure the $1,200 stimulus check for the unsheltered homeless. The latter project has filed for more than $200,000 in stimulus payments, and I am working to expand to Miami with a local church. The rewards come in the form of a smile, a thank you and even, at times, donations from the very people we are assisting. A few weeks ago, one gentlemen I helped get his $1,200 check, came back and left me a $200 donation and said “thank you” and to do with it as I deemed best.
5. What other projects are you involved in and what advice do you give to others who want to make a difference?
My curiosity about the challenges leading to homelessness led me to the importance of early education, which in turn led me to the Early Learning Coalition of Broward County. I was invited to serve on the board and helped develop the organization’s strategic plan. I learned about the immense brain development between birth and age five and how with engaged parents, coupled with quality childcare providers and educators, we can help to ensure a great start for all children.
I am also involved as a co-founder of Register, Educate and Vote (R.E.V.) which is an association with the League of Women Voters, The Divine 9: Black Sororities and Fraternities and the Voter Participation Project to focus on low participation voting precincts.
The opportunities to get involved are only limited by your curiosity and willingness to step in and leverage the skills you bring with a genuine desire to make a difference.
Bonus question: We understand you enjoy pickleball, one of the fastest growing sports in America. What makes the game so great?
It’s a sport that allows you to be competitive quickly and because it’s fairly new, no one has the advantage of having played it in their youth, like tennis or golf. Secondly, it is a great way to meet a cross section of people in the community, from old to young, from teachers to pilots, across all races and cultures. The only issue is that most communities have not kept pace with the growth of the sport and are behind in building or retrofitting spaces in parks. Fort Lauderdale was an early adapter when it converted an underutilized roller skating rink to six pickleball courts and has committed to expanding courts as part of the recent Fort Lauderdale Parks bond issue.